Sure it was a hard-fought, well-earned victory for Ohio State in Happy
Valley, but Simon Fraser quickly put the win in its proper perspective after the
"We took care of business today," Fraser said. "It was a close one, but we're used to it."
But these Buckeyes haven't exactly been used to being down by ten points at halftime. So this time around, it was the offense that really needed to make something happen to get the victory.
"Last week (the offense) gained some confidence and this week with the ball, coming down the stretch there, we had no doubts our offense would pull it off," Fraser said. "I've got a lot of confidence in our players out there, and they're starting to get their stride now."
A.J. Hawk also gave a big assist to his offensive mates for the victory as well.
"The offense played unbelievable tonight, and we love to
see that," he said. "That was a great drive that they had at the end
of the game, and of course (Scott) McMullen came in and played great, so that
just helps the defense; we feed off of that."
The Ohio State defense was fed a steady diet of Zack Mills and just like two years ago when he was inserted in the lineup against the Buckeyes, Mills was the main catalyst behind the Penn State effort.
"He's a great player, he does a lot of things and makes their offense very dynamic," Fraser said. "We had to go out there and contain him and he busted out a couple of big runs against us, but apart from that he had a great day passing."
Mills was 27 of 42 passing in the contest for 253 yards with one touchdown and one interception. His 27 completions were a career high and the third highest total in school history.
"Actually we played a lot of man today, a lot of man coverage, but we tried to mix it up," said Dustin Fox. "We tried to show some off and then mix it up with some man and try to mess with him a little bit. But for the most part we played a lot of man with some zone, and then at the end we played a lot of Cover 2."
Mills was 5 of 6 passing for 64 yards and he had a 10-yard run
on Penn State's lone touchdown drive of the game in the first quarter that
knotted the score at 7 at the time and set the tone for the Nittany Lions for
the rest of the game.
"We knew he was going to come in and play this way," said Will Smith. "He's a veteran and he made a lot of plays today."
Be it through the air or even on the ground, Mills was a constant threat to the Buckeye defense.
"He creates on the run," Fraser said. "He'll get outside the pocket and look like he's going to run and then pull up and throw a 15 yard pass. So he's a very crafty and very mobile individual and he just creates a lot of havoc for teams."
And Mills did just that particularly on third down plays against the Buckeye defense. Penn State was 9 of 17 on third-down conversions.
"We needed to stop them on third down, which we didn't do that much tonight," Hawk said. "It was just little things, maybe missing a couple of tackles or letting them throw down the field where we shouldn't. But I think we'll get it corrected."
Of course the rushing defense of OSU was as stout as usual throughout the game, holding the Nittany Lions to just 33 total yards on 27 rushing attempts. Mills led Penn State on the ground with 20 yards on 10 carries and was able to elude the pressure, for the most part, from the guys up front.
"(Penn State) coaches did a good job of getting him out of the pocket and allowing him to make some designed runs which they do well," said Fox, who along with Nate Salley led the Buckeye defense with nine tackles . "He's a good player and a good runner, and he seems to have his best games against us. He played great."
But it wasn't enough for Penn State against a Buckeye defense who stood tall despite the offense giving away seven points on a 78-yard
interception return for a score in the second quarter.
"I think we did well. We shut down the run and made them go to their passing game," Fraser said. "Overall I think we did a good job handling the adversities and the situations that we were put in."
Unlike two years ago at Beaver Stadium when Ohio State let a big lead slip away, the Buckeyes were able to finish off the Nittany Lions this time.
"It feels great, it really does," said Fox whose brother Derek played for Penn State just a few seasons ago. "We were down 10 points and the offense came out and made some plays and the defense held them off at the end, so we did finish and that was great."
It wasn't a pretty win but it was a win that everyone had a hand in.
"Like we said in the locker room after the game here, it was a big-time team effort," Fox said. "The special units, defense and offense really played well for us and got us the win."
It was a big win for Ohio State in so many ways.
"We're just excited," Fraser said. "To come back from behind in the fourth quarter with a big victory against Penn State! Even though their record doesn't show it, they're still a great Penn State team and it was a great win for us today."