5 Answers: Penn State at Ohio State

This week we put both quarterbacks under the microscope and wondered about play in the trenches. Also covered: the ever-important turnover battle and the effect of the ballyhooed "Scarlet Fever" at Ohio Stadium.

1. Which quarterback can make plays while limiting mistakes?

Both defenses appeared to keep the opposing quarterback regularly flummoxed.

Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor and Penn State's Daryll Clark both hit a big pass play to set up a field goal but were mostly contained.

"We just tried to screw with the QB a lot," OSU safety Kurt Coleman said. "I thought we did a really good job of messing with his head. There were a lot of times where it looked like we were in deep coverage and we would come up and smack them."

Pryor lost the ball at midfield while trying to turn a thid-and-1 quarterback sneak into something bigger, and that miscue opened the door to the game-winning 38-yard touchdown drive for the Nittany Lions.

Clark was not the man who led that drive, however. He was relegated to the sidelines because of wooziness, leaving backup Pat Devlin to lead the Penn State offense.


2. What factor will each team's return game play?

The Big Ten's respective leaders in kickoff (Penn State's Derrick Williams) and punt return average (Ohio State's Ray Small) faced off in this contest, but neither did much of anything.

Williams returned one kickoff 18 yards, and Small went nowhere on his one punt return. Williams also returned two punts for a total of 12 yards.

Lamaar Thomas made a nice cut to daylight to set up Ohio State's first-half field goal drive with a 37-yard kickoff return late in the second quarter.

Ultimately, the biggest play of the night involving a return game probably occurred after the PSU touchdown drive when Maurice Wells muffed the ensuing kickoff out of bounds. That left the Buckeyes to take over possession at their own 7-yard line.


3. Which team will control the line of scrimmage?

Simply put, Ohio State lost the game up front on the offensive side of the ball.

Penn State stuffed the Buckeyes at every turn, limiting Chris Wells to a season-low 55 yards on 22 carries. His longest run was eight yards and he averaged just 2.5 yards per carry, less than half his season average.

Pryor couldn't find much running room, either, gaining 21 yards on nine attempts that include one sack.

"I mean, you have to look at the results," center Jim Cordle said. "Sixty rushing yards or something, that's not what we wanted to accomplish."

Pass protection was satisfactory thanks to Pryor's scrambling ability, and the freshman bought himself time before finding open receivers on multiple occasions.

On the flip side, Ohio State's much-maligned defensive line held its own for most of the night before giving way on the final two drives, which produced 53 yards rushing and 10 points.

"I think our D-line did a good job getting pressure when they were throwing the ball," linebacker James Laurinaitis said. "The guys kept fighting. We saw on film that they fight for 60 minutes and that's why they're a great team. We just wanted to fight for 60 minutes back. With the exception of a few plays we did that."


4. What about turnovers?

Again, this stat was just as telling as could be expected.

Ohio State committed the only two turnovers of the game, both in the fourth quarter and both crippling.

First Pryor's fumble gave the Nittany Lions possession at the OSU 38, then his final pass attempt of the night was an underthrow intended for Brian Hartline that settled into the arms of a diving Lydell Sargeant.

"When you turn the ball over twice in a game, everyone can say that it's not my fault," Pryor said afterward. "But if you really look at it, it is."

He disapproved of his decision making on the interception.

"I should have known not to throw the ball there," Pryor said. "I should have known to throw somewhere else or throw it away. That's the game. I feel it's on me."

The Buckeyes fell to 24-10 when losing the turnover battle under head coach Jim Tressel. They are 42-3 when coming out on the happy side of that state.

In the OSU-PSU series, the last time a team won the turnover battle but lost the game in this series was 2002.


5. What effect can the crowd have?

The Ohio State faithful heeded Tressel's call to wear scarlet, but the Ohio Stadium-record crowd of 105,711 was nothing to write home about.

Few judged the atmosphere to have equaled that of recent big games in the Horseshoe, such as the 2005 tilt with Texas or the 2006 matchup with Michigan.

A university decision to pipe in popular music during some stoppages rather than to rely on the OSU Marching Band to keep the atmosphere lively seemed to backfire as the music got little reaction from the crowd and seemed to throw off the band, leaving some unexpectedly quiet moments.

Ohio State fell to 6-2 in home night games.


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