Teams that give up a 100+ yard kickoff return for a touchdown, a safety, give up a huge momentum shifting opening play of the game touchdown and commit four turnovers don’t often win said game. Along with a much better defensive showing, Kenny Guiton’s faith under fire lead what for almost fifty eight minutes was an abysmal performance to a miraculous overtime win in Ohio Stadium to keep the Buckeyes perfect at 8-0. No matter what happens in the remainder of his time at The Ohio State University, Kenny Guiton will always be remembered as the hero of the 29-22 thriller over Purdue in 2012. And it’s well deserved!
The “Smooth Jazz” of Kenny G.
I think it goes without saying that everyone’s heart skipped a beat or two when Braxton Miller went down in the third quarter Saturday just when it seemed the Buckeyes were poised to break out of the offensive funk that had been holding them back all afternoon. Fortunately “coach” (as Urban Meyer’s staff often refers to him) Kenny Guiton was prepared to step up to the plate and shine in his opportunity. He didn’t exactly look pretty, especially the ground shot that Chris Fields had to dig off the turf or the lazy blooper for the two-point conversion to Jeff Heuerman to tie it in the waning seconds of regulation, but after ten years of Tressel-ball we should be pretty accustomed to ugly wins. Guiton’s steady appearance, knowledge of the offense and the faith the staff and his teammates have in him were the steady hand needed to wage an epic comeback and get a win over Purdue, who may have been playing their best defensive game of the season.
The famous question: What happens when preparation meets opportunity? Kenny Guiton showed you on Saturday.
How bad was it?
One of the questions I kept asking myself after the game was just how bad were things this past weekend against what seemed to be a lowly Purdue team on the back end of its season having reached its proverbial peek? Some aspects of it were down right disgusting. Other parts of it left me feeling pretty good about where they’re headed.
Special teams were up and down. You had the crucial blocked field goal to keep the game within reach, but you also had the nearly untouched 100 yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Despite replays showing plenty of holding (the one on Noah Spence is grossly blatant) good teams can’t let that happen.
Carlos Hyde continues to make the most of his opportunities when he gets them. I thought the game plan in the second half was going to be more of a direct attack with 34 toting the pill. Meyer seems reluctant to make a solid commitment to Hyde early in games as well. I’m still not sure why “feed Carlos” isn’t more of a higher percentage of the attack. You have to wonder if Braxton Miller’s injury Saturday will now force Meyer’s hand a bit to give Hyde more carries early.
I don’t understand why this team can’t stop a bubble screen. I also don’t understand the complete unwillingness to blitz. When the game was on the line, they brought pressure and Purdue quarterback Caleb Terbush was flustered and made bad throws. Where was this earlier in the game?
It made me feel good seeing Gution come in and lead them to the win when everything was stacked against them. We’ve seen Kenny come in in spots to spell a dinged up Miller, but never in a spot like this and with Miller clearly not returning. If needed this week at Penn State or later in the stretch run, Guiton has this win under his built to fall back on and remove the doubt of “if” he can get the job done. At least now we know.
Battling the Nits
By now everyone is acutely aware of the scandal that went on at Pennsylvania State University. The sanctions to the football program were handed down hard and Jerry Sandusky has received his sentencing. Forever changed, it’s back to football at Penn State.
This weekend brings two teams together with no chance of a bowl game or even playing for the Big Ten championship despite to this point appearing to be the two best teams in the league. They arrive at this matchup coming from very different directions. One team is limping its way through its schedule, trying to remain unbeaten. The other team started slow, dropping its first two games to Ohio University and Virginia, but is now catching fire and is coming off a steamrolling win at Iowa.
We can break down game film and look at tendencies to try and find out where this game can be won or lost, but it’s really pretty simple: Nittany Lion quarterback Matt McGloin (Captain Moxie) is playing the best football of his life under the tutelage of Bill O’Brien and the PSU defensive front seven is as stout as it has always been.
So what will it take for Ohio State to win it? It’s also pretty simple: Be physical. Take the fight to Penn State and bring it for 60 minutes.
Up front dominance and a little “ground and pound”
Corey Linsley, Jack Mewhort, Reid Fragel, Marcus Hall and Andrew Norwell, this one is on you guys. Can they move the PSU front four at the point of attack. Can they wear them down as the game gets later and later into the evening? If we see an old school Buckeye offensive line effort, it’ll be a massive key to getting this one done this week.
Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith, this one is on you guys too. In no way can they allow one man to bring them down. These guys have to average four yards or better for the night and have a lot of carries. The will has to be there to want to put this game on their shoulders and carry it to victory. As much as we love what we have seen from Hyde and in spots from Smith, this Saturday we see what these guys are truly made of.
Planning and pressure
While Penn State will align in traditional sets and runs a more conventional offense, they do it in a relatively fast pace and typically with no huddle. It’s time to man up and cut out the zone defense. Ohio State has better athletes at corner and safety than PSU has at wide receiver and running back. Make them beat them one-on-one.
I’m not naïve enough to think that Matt McGloin isn’t an improved player or is somehow just hype since they’ve won five in a row. He legitimately may be the best “traditional” quarterback in the Big Ten. But I have to think that somewhere inside that tendency to make an error in a pressure spot is still there. As big as this game is for Penn State and Ohio State, it’s even bigger for Matt McGloin because it’s his chance to really silence his critics in State College for good. I need to see silver bullets flying around everywhere on Saturday night. And I need to see them coming from all different locations. Bring the heat. Get him off balance. Force him into bad spots. Put him on the ground. That’s the recipe for shutting down Penn State’s offense. To kill the snake, cut off the head.
Saturday night’s game is one of those “difference” games. What I mean is, what will be the difference? Will it be a turnover or a special teams play? Maybe it will be one team’s line dominating that makes the difference. One thing we should be able to count on is our team being better prepared and having a better game plan. Urban Meyer can be the difference.
This is the week that Urban Meyer and his staff earn their money. They need to outcoach Bill O’Brien, something O’Brien himself has been doing to opponents on a weekly basis. I’m not taking anything away from O’Brien’s ability or what he has accomplished thus far this season, but he had better have no answer for Ohio State’s defensive schemes and offensive attack and the adjustments being made to them as the game progresses. Urban and company need to be one step ahead of O’Brien all night long like Lionel Richie.
The bottom line:
We all know what this game means to Ohio State. They’ve worked so hard this offseason learning a new system with new staff and players and ten months later we’re seeing the fruits of their labor unfold into an 8-0 start to the season. I can only imagine how badly they want to be 9-0 and eventually finish this campaign unblemished to prove the critics and the doubters wrong and to feel the vindication inside them that can only come from winning. How badly do they want to feel that sense of accomplishment that no matter what limitations are thrown your way, you overcame it all and rose above the fray to achieve the maximum result allowed. That you pushed it to its limit and that you rode it till the wheels fell off. Certainly they want to make a statement to the college football world and justify to themselves that all the hard work, late hours and buckets of sweat mattered and ultimately paid off.
Well, this game matters a lot to us too. Not as much as the battle on November 24th will matter (we’ll have more on that in the week leading up to it) but this one hits a nerve with us more so than any of the others on the schedule. It’s about them for years saying how we “cheat” and taking a moral high ground trying to make us feel inferior and as though our teams success has in some way been tainted. It’s about two historically great football programs butting heads over which one shines brighter in the pantheon of college football greats. It’s about who’s the real “Linebacker U” and arguments over imaginary games between the 1994 Lions against the 2002 Buckeyes.
And so here we are, heading over to Beaver Stadium for an evening affair in what is being hyped in State College as the biggest home game since the 2005 OSU-PSU game. Students have been camping outside the stadium since Monday in hopes of getting a spot in the bleachers for what is undoubtedly Penn State’s version of the Super Bowl. Except for Luke Fickell and Adam Griffin, there is not a single soul involved in any way with the program that was there that night. A brief memory jog, Ohio State lost that game in 2005, 17-10 in an absolute war that came down to the final seconds before Tamba Hali sacked Troy Smith ending the Buckeyes chance at a game winning drive. It’s considered by PSU blog sites as “The best weekend and game of the Big Ten era in Penn State history.” (www.blackshoediaries.com) It’s a night that still eats at Ohio State fans for many reasons other than the final score.
Ohio State cannot take any chances or do anything to compromise the undefeated dream. They must pull out all the stops and do everything possible to be sure 2005 is not repeated. They have to be relentless in their desire to remain perfect and play with passion and Buckeye pride. My old high school coach used to say “Make your luck”. Do that and Ohio State will come home 9-0.
Wrap it up
We should be treated to a great game and an all-out battle on Saturday night. A battle that I feel confident our guys can win. Ohio State has much more speed and better athletes across the board. They also have one of the best coaches in the country on their sideline. Buckle up, it should be fun! Until next week, Go Bucks!
Metallica track of the week
As if the hype for Saturday doesn’t do a good enough job on its own, we go back to 1988’s …And Justice For All for an absolute adrenaline pumper for our MTOTW. Let’s go to back to Sofia, Bulgaria and The Big 4 dvd for this crushing video of “Blackened”!