Monday, September 25, 2006

Sweet Victory

September 25, 2006

I will be the first to admit it. The score didn’t do justice to the game. 28-6 is seen as a runaway victory if you look just at the scoreboard when the final gun sounds. Such was not the case in Columbus on Saturday. The game was much closer than the final score makes it appear. After all, at half-time the #1 team in the nation had been shutout and Penn State held a surprising 3-0 lead. And the Buckeyes were not out of danger until the final 5 minutes of the contest.

Praise God for second halfs! But even when it was over, the Penn State defense had nothing to hang their heads about. With all the offensive firepower and speedy weapons that Ohio State has, to hold them to 14 points for 60 minutes of football is more than respectable and on most days will provide you with a victory.

When it comes right down to it, the difference in the game from my vantage point was in the play of the quarterbacks. The Penn State quarterback is going to be a good one, but last Saturday in Columbus, it was Heisman hopeful, Troy Smith, that won the day. That is where Ohio State had the edge that resulted in a big win for the scarlet and grey. But let’s not be too hard on the young Penn State QB. This was really his first true test on the road against a #1 team who happens to be a Big Ten rival in a driving rainstorm. Add to this the fact that the location of the game was in Ohio Stadium where the Buckeyes are extremely hard to beat. All in all, Smith was just the better athlete on this day.

I also have to give the edge defensively to my Buckeyes as well. Yes, holding the Ohio State offense to just 14 points is respectable, but keeping the Penn State offense out of the end zone, even when there were several opportunities inside the 10 yard line, is nothing short of outstanding. That was the question for Ohio State going into the season. They only had two starters from last year returning on defense. But after great defensive showings against nationally ranked Texas and now Penn State, I think we can say that the Buckeye defense is for real. And without question, two interceptions returned more than 50 yards for touchdowns in the fourth quarter was the exclamation point to a pretty good day on the defensive side of the football.

There seems to be little doubt that Ohio State is currently the best college football team in the nation. Do they have a chance to win another national championship? You bet! But as much as I love my Buckeyes, I also realize that this is Big Ten Football. This, in my opinion, is the hardest conference there is to play in and end the season undefeated. The next 2 weeks won’t get any easier. Next Saturday night we have to go to Iowa to play the undefeated Hawkeyes. After that, we have to go to Michigan State to face the Spartans. These are two hard wins, especially on the road. And if we do survive these and all other Big Ten contests, the season ends against archrival Michigan. At least that one is in the Horseshoe. Will we be playing in Arizona come January for a National Championship? I think we can as long as we don’t beat ourselves. But even if we don’t, for the next 12 months I will have the satisfaction of knowing we beat Penn State! O-H…I-O!

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