They simply called 1-5, as in No. 15, senior backup Scott McMullen. McMullen came off the pine to direct a pair of OSU touchdown drives in the second half, including the game winning 72-yard march -- capped by his 5-yard touchdown pass to Michael Jenkins with 1:35 left -- as the Buckeyes pulled out a 21-20 win at Penn State Saturday.
"I think the ABC person (Sam Ryan) asked me on the way back out to start the second half what we would have to limit with Scott in the game," OSU coach Jim Tressel said. "I said, `Nothing.' Scott knows everything we're doing. You saw him take us to two wins earlier in the year. We don't change anything we do when he's in the game. He knows what to read and where the good match-ups are and who's blitzing. Scott knows everything that Craig does."
McMullen completed 12 of 17 passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns in the win. On the winning drive, he was all good, completing all seven pass attempts for 54 yards and also rushed a couple times for 11 yards.
"There toward the end, we started to spread them out with five wide receivers," McMullen said. "We've got the guys to do it and they had a hard time stopping us. I was pretty comfortable out there today."
McMullen said he took a page out of Krenzel's book with the late heroics.
"I've been watching Craig this whole last year bring us back to victory," McMullen said. "I just took some pointers from him."
In fact, Tressel said that Krenzel, who was shaken up by a vicious hit by PSU blitzing linebacker Deryck Toles late in the first half, designed the touchdown play to Jenkins.
"That last play, for the touchdown, Craig Krenzel called that play," Tressel said. "He suggested it to Scott McMullen. He said we should put Michael to the boundary and just have him jump up and get it. He said, `There's no way they can handle Mike over there.' Craig was absolutely right. There were a lot of people who contributed to a very hard fought win."
McMullen added, "We had worked on that in practice. It's called really a fade jump. Mike takes the fade and I just throw it in there hard to him. Most of the time the defensive player does not have his eyes on me. Mike's seeing the ball."
McMullen, as a fifth year senior, knows he must be ready at a moment's notice to replace Krenzel. Earlier this year, he started and helped lead OSU to wins over Bowling Green and Northwestern when Krenzel was hurt. Last week, he relieved Krenzel in the rout at Indiana and was a perfect 5-for-5.
"I am pretty much already ready," McMullen said. "I'm thinking get loose and move the offense. I've been prepared these last couple years in case Craig did go down.
"When I got in there, I was pretty confident. As I was looking around the huddle, guys were pretty confident. We were sure we could come down there and pull it out. We've only got a couple games left. There was no way me or any of the other seniors wanted to lose."
McMullen's teammates were supportive of his relief effort at Happy Valley.
"It's a huge thing for us," said tight end Ben Hartsock. "He comes in and he's such a natural player. He makes great reads and really flows with the game really well. To be able to do that after sitting for 3-½ quarters is really impressive. Everybody feels real comfortable with Scott in the huddle. He handles himself real well and goes out and makes plays. Very few things get him rattled.
"His quickness in making reads and putting the ball on the money, it's really something he is confident about. When he comes in, he's ready to go. Scott is a very laid back guy. He never gets flustered. This was as high pressure a situation as you could ask for. But he maintained his composure and went out and made some plays."
Tressel liked the way McMullen handled PSU's pressure package.
"They mixed it up and Scott did a good job of knowing what was coming," Tressel said. "The ball came out of there fast when we needed it to."
McMullen served notice by completing his first pass for 38 yards to Santonio Holmes. That helped set up a 4-yard TD pass to Jenkins.
"That was good, especially, coming and getting my first completion like that," he said.
Krenzel Update; Who Will Start?
Tressel discussed the Krenzel injury.
"He got banged," Tressel said. "I don't know what the medical update is. That's not my arena. But he got banged and the doctors didn't feel the right thing was for him to go back in."
OSU mustered just 137 yards total offense in the first half, when Krenzel was 5 of 12 passing for 36 yards with an interception, which Alan Zemaitis returned 78 yards for a touchdown.
When asked who would start next week against Michigan State, Tressel said: "Oh gosh, I don't know. We'll make that Tuesday's drama (for the weekly press luncheon)."
Stepanovich added, "No, Craig got hurt. He's never proven he can't lead us to victory."
And Hartsock added his two cents: "If he's healthy? Yeah, I guess. He's the starting quarterback. Craig is the starter right now. Everybody is happy with how Craig played. Nobody is ready to make any controversy with how Scott played today. We're happy he came in and played well for us today."