COLUMBUS, Ohio -- It’s believed to have been the worst statistical defensive performance for Penn State since the 19th century.
“Linebacker U” hadn’t given up more than 60 points since 1899 when Duquesne Athletic Club downed the Nittany Lions, 64-5, to close out a 4-6-1 season under coach Sam Boyle.
But coach Bill O’Brien’s Penn State squad (4-3, 1-2 in Big Ten) went down in similarly historic fashion in Columbus Saturday, losing to No. 4 Ohio State (8-0, 4-0), 63-14 before 105,889 in Ohio Stadium. Quarterback Braxton Miller orchestrated a nearly perfect offensive attack for a Buckeye offense that scored 42 points in the first half and totaled a whopping 686 yards.
After the game, the Lions’ coach, in typical O’Brien fashion, took responsibility for the loss and said he’d better assess the game after watching the film. But these film sessions will likely lead to more cringes than ever in his 19-game head coaching career.
“We’ve got to learn from it. We’ve got to coach better. That’s two years in a row that we’ve lost to these guys,” O’Brien said. “Give them all the credit in the world. They did a good job and they’ve got a hell of a football team.”
Urban Meyer won his 20th straight game as Ohio State head coach to keep the Buckeyes’ national title hopes alive — and made sure this one wasn’t close in the process.
While up 35-7 with less than a minute to go in the first half, Meyer didn’t take the foot off the pedal. The Buckeyes executed a six-play, 84-yard drive in 52 seconds to tack on seven more. Later, Meyer challenged a first down call while his team was up 49 points.
The second-year Buckeye coach — who received a noticeable glare from O’Brien while the spot was being challenged in the fourth quarter — said he imagines that type of win would help his team’s reception nationally.
“I think it helps,” Meyer said. “That was not certainly our mindset. Our mindset is find a way to win this game against a very talented team. A lot of respect for a team that had some momentum going into this game.”
The sole time the Lions seemed to gain momentum in this one came on their first offensive possession of the game during a 12-play, 69-yard drive into the red zone. However, a Christian Hackenberg pass intended for tight end Adam Breneman landed in the hands of safety Corey Brown.
And the rout was on.
Miller demonstrated his Heisman side against the Lions for the second straight year, finishing with 320 total yards and five touchdowns — three in the air and two on the ground. Running back Carlos Hyde added 16 carries for 147 yards and two rushing scores, tallying on to a 408-yard Buckeye rushing performance.
O’Brien said simulating their speed in practice wasn’t easy, but the blowout loss was primarily a result of getting simply outplayed.
“They’re a good football team. No question about it. They deserve all their rankings and all the things that are coming for them,” O’Brien said. “They’re going to be tough to beat.”
The future of Penn State’s 2013 season is once again in limbo for a team that had been coming off a miraculous four-overtime victory against Michigan in its last outing.
O’Brien said ‘disheartened’ would be an acceptable word to describe the team after giving up 42 points in a single half. But, at the same time, he said he didn’t think any of his players quit — citing Allen Robinson’s catch and 80-yard scoring dash as a prime example.
Corner Jordan Lucas said despite the nature of the loss, he doesn’t expect its consequences to affect the team long-term.
“Any loss is tough, and losing like this to Ohio State, it definitely hits hard,” Lucas said. “But one thing about us…we look at the tape, we go over our mistakes and we try to fix it for the next weekend and try not to let anything like that happen again. So after Sunday, we’re past Ohio State.”
John Stuetz can be reached at email@example.com or (814) 865-1828. Follow him on Twitter at @JohnStuetz_PSU.