Penn State smashed Ohio State by a score of 63-14 in 1994, when the Nittany Lions were putting together an undefeated season capped with a Rose Bowl victory. Penn State did not get recognized as a national champion that season. Ohio State could be on a similar path after matching the most lopsided victory in the series history Saturday night in Columbus.
Ohio State, sitting fourth in the BCS standings behind Alabama, Florida State and Oregon, is unlikely to pick up much ground in the rankings but did everything they needed to do against Penn State. The Buckeyes were dominant in racking up the most yards ever allowed by Penn State in a single game and scoring the most points allowed by Penn State since the 19th century. That’s right, the 19th century. But no matter how impressive Ohio State was Saturday night they still figure to be the odd-team out of a crowded top in the BCS standings. With Oregon pulling away from UCLA for a big win in the Pac 12 to remain undefeated and Florida State having no problems with North Carolina State, the Buckeyes will have to hope there are some voters out there who feel more confident about the final score put together by Urban Meyer‘s squad.
Ohio State extended their winning streak to 20 games. Meyer has not lost a game in Columbus since being named the head coach. Braxton Miller completed 19 of 25 pass attempts for 261 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 68 yards and two more. Carlos Hyde led all players with 147 yards and two touchdowns. The Buckeyes forced three Penn State turnovers, including two interceptions of freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg in the first quarter while the Ohio State offense had zero turnovers. Ohio State finished the game with 686 total yards of offense and converted seven out of 10 third down conversions. Ohio State took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and a 42-7 lead in to halftime and then kept it rolling in the second half by outscoring Penn State 21-7. Kenny Guitton, who eventually replaced Miller as he did earlier in the season, added two rushing touchdowns in the second half as well.
Ohio State also got a little help in the BCS standings when Missouri fell to South Carolina in double overtime. Though Ohio State was ranked ahead of the Tigers, seeing one more threat knocked off will help Ohio State’s chances if they continue to string together wins.
Saturday night was the first great win for Ohio State this season, at least in terms of overall performance. After some closer than expected calls to start Big Ten play, the Buckeyes finally set the tone early and brought the hammer down on their opponent. Saturday night was an example of the kinds of performances Ohio State must have the rest of the way to convince voters they belong in the BCS Championship Game.
As long as Alabama, Florida State and Oregon are doing the same in front of them, Ohio State will continue to chase. The Buckeyes are clearly the best team in the Big Ten, it’s not even close. But given the conference’s national perception right now, the Buckeyes not only need to win their final four regular season games and the Big Ten championship game, but they may need to do so in a huge way. Ohio State has the players to score the style points, but they may need some help from around the country to get back to the BCS championship game.
Otherwise, this Ohio State team could be left to play in a Rose Bowl without a loss and no shot at a national championship just like Penn State in 1994.