Five Answers: Ohio State at Penn State

Ohio State thumped another team in its own backyard Saturday night, a habit the Buckeyes seem to like. We take a look back at how the big fellas up front faired, the matchup of secondaries and wide receiver corps, matters of poise and more in this week's Five Answers.

1. Can the Buckeyes dominate the line of scrimmage?

The OSU offensive line won its battles all night, setting the tone for Ohio State's dominating victory.

Not only did Kirk Barton, Ben Person, Jim Cordle, Steve Rehring and Alex Boone clear the way for Chris Wells and Maurice Wells to combine for 188 yards on 38 carries (a 4.9-yard average), but both coaches gave the fivesome kudos for making Todd Boeckman's life easier.

"We didn't get any pressure on (Boeckman)," Penn State head coach Joe Paterno said. "And then when we did go after him, he did a good job of dumping it off and they hit that one screen on third-and-13 for the touchdown. They did a good job. I mean, you've got to give them credit. That's a good football team and they played very well."

A PSU team that entered the game with more sacks than any team in the country managed just one all night against the Buckeyes.

"It felt like it was seven guys against five," Penn State defensive end Josh Gaines said.

In that case, don't forget a tip of the cap to OSU fullbacks Dionte Johnson and Tyler Whaley along with tight ends Jake Ballard and Rory Nicol.


2. Will the Buckeyes keep their poise?

A week after seeing way too many flags fly for false start, Ohio State drew just one pre-snap penalty, a false start that proved to be a mere bump on the way to the visitors' first touchdown of the night.

Not bad considering the hostile environment they were warned about all week.

Beyond that, Boeckman's star shone perhaps brightest on third downs, when the junior completed 8 of 9 passes, including his last eight in a row. All those completions resulted in first downs.

The Buckeyes as a team were 12 of 16 in converting third downs, a number made all the more impressive when considering that two of the failed conversions were third-and-longs in which Tressel opted merely for a draw to set up successful field goals in the second half.

Another failed third down was followed immediately by a successful fourth down conversion.

"That is what killed us and will kill you in every game," PSU linebacker Dan Connor said of his team's deficiency on third down.

On the flip side, the Buckeye defense underwent some adversity early when Penn State drove 78 yards for a touchdown the first time it got the ball.

The Nittany Lions had just one drive that gained more than 33 yards thereafter.

"I thought our defense showed good poise," OSU head coach Jim Tressel said. "Penn State moved it on that early drive and not a whole bunch after that except for that one field goal drive."


3. Can the Buckeyes protect the ball better?

Boeckman's one glaring error was a second-quarter interception to Connor when the quarterback tried to force a pass into coverage.

"I thought he nursed that throw a little bit," Tressel said. "He tried to slip it in there instead of throwing it with the authority that I thought he threw with the whole game."

That could have been a momentum changer late in the first half but the Ohio State defense stiffened.

After two Evan Royster runs gained 13 yards and Anthony Morelli connected with Terrell Golden for another 5 to get the Nittany Lions to the Buckeye 41, Marcus Freeman slowed the hosts' momentum by knifing in to drop Royster for a loss of 1. That set up a third down in which OSU safety Kurt Coleman dropped Jordan Norwood with a sure tackle in the open field two yards shy of the line to gain, forcing the Nittany Lions to punt.


4. Will Anthony Morelli lose the game for Penn State?

For those of you keeping score, the Nittany Lion quarterback has thrown for three touchdowns in two games against Ohio State – all for the Buckeyes.

Malcolm Jenkins got him for a second year in a row, although the Ohio State corner had a much easier path to the end zone with his interception this year as opposed to last, when he dodged a slew of potential tacklers and tight-roped the sideline.

It is tough to pin the loss on Morelli, though, when his team's defense was torched both through air and by land.

Morelli completed 12 of 21 passes for 111 yards, including a handful of nice throws on his team's opening drive that produced a touchdown.


5. Which defensive backfield will play the best?

Not much of a contest as it turned out.

Boeckman cut up the Nittany Lions from the start. He completed 19 of 26 passes for 253 yards, beating them long (a 60-yarder to Ray Small), short (a 9-yard touchdown to Brian Robiskie and a 16-yard screen pass to Brian Hartline for another TD) and intermediate (Robiskie got loose for a 27-yarder on Ohio State's second play).

While Robiskie did not have a huge night, he was able to shake Penn State's Justin King for the aforementioned touchdown and a 19-yard gain on Ohio State's second touchdown drive. King got credit for a pass breakup when video replay overruled what was initially called a Robiskie catch at the 1-yard line on one third-quarter play.

The OSU secondary kept the wraps on Penn State's wide receivers for most of the night as none caught a pass for more than 13 yards.

Third corner Chimdi Chekwa broke up a pair of passes for the Buckeyes.


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