Fickell doesn't make excuses after latest loss
The Buckeyes saw their faint hopes of reaching the Big Ten's first title game dashed on the second-to-last game of conference play. Ohio State had won at least a piece of six straight Big Ten titles, before last season's championship was vacated due to the tattoo and memorabilia scandal.
Ohio State lost to Leaders Division front-runner Penn State by a 20-14 count, while rumors swirled that the Buckeyes had already been shopping for their next head coach. Multiple unconfirmed Internet reports claimed former Florida head coach Urban Meyer was already signed to a deal to take over in Columbus.
Meyer and Ohio State officials denied the reports, but the distraction was certainly legitimate. Current head coach Luke Fickell's deal runs through just the end of January, and with the loss to Penn State his record drops to 6-5 overall and 3-4 in the Big Ten.
Fickell refused to use the hyper-speed rumor mill as an excuse for his team's performance against Penn State, which included two crucial second-half fumbles.
"No, no, we're not going to use any excuses," Fickell said. "If you don't turn the TV on, you don't listen, you don't pay attention to those things, you stay focused on your guys; you give them everything you've got."
The Buckeyes dug themselves a 10-0 deficit to start the game, for the third straight week, and then struggled to catch up. Penn State never trailed in the game, and neither team scored in the second half.
Senior C Mike Brewster, one of two dozen Buckeyes playing their final home game for Ohio State, said the nearly year-long scandal and NCAA investigation, followed by all of the rumors concerning Meyer, have made for a difficult slog.
"This team has done a heck of a job moving forward and grinding it out, even though we're 6-5," Brewster said.
"I don't think people understand; we've had to scrap for those six wins. We came up short in a few others and it's been a crazy year but I'm proud of these guys for sticking together and not pointing fingers. No one ever pointed a finger and just kept fighting."
--Ohio State stopped Penn State on three straight downs at the Buckeyes' one yard line, following a fumbled exchange that set Penn State up at the 11 yard line. The Buckeyes took over on downs after the final stop.
--Ohio State had won or shared the past six Big Ten championships, but that string ended when Wisconsin won at Illinois and the Buckeyes lost at home to Penn State. Ohio State was eliminated from contention for the Leaders Division crown, and a shot at the conference title game. Ohio State's 2010 Big Ten title was eventually vacated.
--On Ohio State's final possession of the Penn State game, the Buckeyes managed just three incomplete passes and an intentional grounding penalty.
KEEP AN EYE ON: WR DeVier Posey -- The senior missed the first 10 games of his final season as a Buckeye due to a pair of five-game suspensions. His debut came in the final home date of the season, against Penn State, and Posey led the Buckeyes in that game with four receptions for 66 yards. "We know he can make a lot of plays," Ohio State coach Luke Fickell said. "He obviously did what you expect him to do."
LOOKING GOOD: QB Braxton Miller continued his advancement in the position with 188 total yards in the loss to Penn State. The freshman had 18 carries for 105 yards and one touchdown, and completed 7-of-17 passes for 83 yards and one touchdown.
STILL NEEDS WORK: The Ohio State rushing defense, which for a very long time has been the anchor on that side of the ball, has struggled this season. In the loss to Penn State, the Buckeyes could not stop the run. Penn State ground out 239 rushing yards and scored a pair of rushing touchdowns.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm disappointed to lose at home on senior day. We came into the game wanting to go out with a bang. Obviously that just didn't' happen. It was emotional before and after the game. Every time you take a loss it's hard but especially on senior day." -- Ohio State senior RB Dan "Boom" Herron on the loss to Penn State
--QB Braxton Miller tied a career-best with his two touchdown passes in the loss to Purdue. Miller also ran for a touchdown on a six-yard scamper.
--LB Ryan Shazier, a freshman from Florida who started for the first time in the Penn State game, led the Buckeyes with 15 tackles against the Nittany Lions.
--S Orhian Johnson grabbed his third interception of the season in the loss to Penn State. Johnson picked off a tipped ball and took it back to the Penn State 37, setting the Buckeyes up for a touchdown five plays later.
--WR DeVier Posey, who sat out the first 10 games of the season serving a pair of NCAA-mandated five-game suspensions, returned to the lineup against Penn State and was in the starting lineup. Posey had four catches for 66 yards.
--LB Andrew Sweat, who left the Purdue game in the first quarter with apparent concussion-like symptoms, did not dress for the Penn State game, his final home game as a Buckeye.
--LB Ryan Shazier, a freshman, replaced the injured senior Andrew Sweat in the starting lineup against Penn State.
--RB/KR Jaamal Berry remains suspended following his arrest for his alleged involvement in a fight outside a downtown Columbus bar.
--DE Nathan Williams, lost for the season with a knee injury in the season-opener, has had two rounds of surgery.
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