During warm-ups, running back Evan Royster caught a swing pass, turned and ran into a teammate. He tried to stop but ended up tweaking his right knee. It was nothing too serious as he started and carried the ball 13 times. But it was a fitting precursor to the offensive struggles the Nittany Lions would have.
In its 24-7 loss to the Buckeyes in front of the fourth-largest crowd in Beaver Stadium history (110,033), Penn State was lackluster in nearly every aspect of the offense. It gained only nine first downs and just 201 total yards of offense.
There was one piece of consistency for the Lions' offense. No. 11 Penn State (8-2, 4-2 Big Ten) was 4 of 16 on third downs, resulting in 10 Jeremy Boone punts. The most telling of all the struggles is the number of three-and-outs Penn State had -- seven.
I gotta see it [on film] because I don't even really know exactly what all the problems were, junior center Stefen Wisniewski said. It's just frustrating to keep going out there drive after drive and keep jogging back over to the sideline after three plays.
No. 16 Ohio State (8-2, 5-1) was able to keep the Penn State offense -- which had averaged 35.2 points per game in its last five games - in check all day.
The Buckeyes' front seven handled PSU just as the Iowa front seven did in State's only other loss of the year.
They only sacked Penn State quarterback Daryll Clark twice but kept him under pressure throughout the game, forcing Clark to rush his throws. He completed just 12 of his 28 passes for 125 yards and an interception.
I thought our offensive line did what they could in certain situations, Clark said. You win some, you lose some and whatnot. It was just a couple of plays were they definitely got back there faster than I expected. When you have someone in your lap, it's kinda tough to throw the football down the field.
I knew we were going to have troubles, Penn State coach Joe Paterno said. We had felt that the front seven of Ohio State played the run about as well as anyone we've seen, including Iowa. We knew we were going to have our hands full.
Left guard Johnnie Troutman left the game with a calf injury, Wisniewski said.
On Penn State's first three possessions, it gathered 12 yards and went three-and-out on all three. On their fourth possession the Lions gained their initial first down of the game and ultimately drove 71 yards for a touchdown -- scoring on fourth-and-goal from inside the 1-yard line when Clark dove over the goal line.
But the slow start ultimately paved the way for the offensive frustrations.
I think we just failed to develop a rhythm early on in the game, Clark said. [Ohio State] did a good job of getting to the backfield and just rushing four a couple of times. When that happens, it's kind of tough to execute your offense both running the ball and passing. It was just real spotty throughout the entire game.
Of Clark's 12 completions, seven were to wideout Graham Zug. No other receiver had more than one catch. Noticeably absent from the game plan was wide receiver Derek Moye. In the first three quarters, Moye was thrown to just once. He drew a pass interference penalty on that throw and Penn State would later score on that drive.
Clark said the Buckeyes used a cornerback underneath and a safety over the top to cover Moye, which prevented Moye from running post-corner routes and streaks. Despite not being able to get the ball into the hands of his most productive receiver, Clark said it didn't limit the team offensively.
I could have played 10 times better, Clark said. Sometimes when I had time, some of the balls were overthrown, thrown low. It's just a lack of rhythm.
And it started before the game even kicked off.