Ohio State’s marching band formed the shape of a Tyrannosaurus Rex and proceeded to eat one of their own dressed in Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner’s jersey at halftime on Saturday.
Before and after that the Buckeyes spent the evening chewing through the Penn State defense under the lights at Ohio Stadium and rolled to a 63-14 win over Penn State (4-3, 1-2) before the fourth largest crowd in the Horseshoe’s history.
No. 4 Ohio State (8-0, 4-0) hung the most points on a Penn State squad in 114 years and didn’t have much trouble doing so thanks to quarterback Braxton Miller who provided much of the bite for the Buckeyes.
Miller completed 18 of 24 passes for 252 yards and three touchdowns and added 68 yards and two more scores on 11 carries. The Buckeyes got off to a quick start as Miller led a 75-yard drive and accounted for 69 yards including 66 through the air. Buckeye running back Carlos Hyde finished the drive with a two-yard touchdown run to open the scoring and added another touchdown and 147 yards on 16 carries.
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“We didn’t have them prepared good enough as a coaching staff, me as a head coach,” Penn State’s Bill O’Brien said. “Therefore we didn’t play good enough. We’ve got great kids in that locker room and they’ll put it behind them and learn from it and we’ll remember some things and we’ll get ready to play Illinois.”
When Penn State defenders had Miller in front of them, he slipped away and got behind them with his legs or slipped away from pressure to hit wide open receivers down the field.
Penn State defensive end Deion Barnes nearly had Miller down for a sack in the first quarter before he slid out of the pocket to turn what would’ve been a sack into a modest gain. In the second quarter, Nittany Lion end Anthony Zettel bulled his way through the Ohio State offensive line and lunged toward Miller who eluded Penn State’s pressure again.
It went on and on as Ohio State’s offense ran up 686 total yards and Miller took his curtain call midway through the third quarter with the Buckeyes up 49-7.
“It’s just tough because you feel like you’ve got the guy,” Penn State linebacker Mike Hull said. “He escapes, he scrambles and makes something big happen. That’s the challenge when you have a running quarterback.”
Miller added scoring runs of 39 and six yards. Miller connected with Chris Fields for a three-yard score in the second quarter and added a 25-yard touchdown pass to Corey “Philly” Brown with three seconds remaining in the half. He hit Dontre Wilson from 26 yards out in the third quarter to give Ohio State a 49-7 lead.
A Heisman Trophy hopeful, Miller led eight scoring drives including six of seven in the first half. On the eighth drive, Miller and running back Jordan Hall teed up a two-yard touchdown run for backup Kenny Guiton. Before leaving the game, Miller opened the drive with a nine-yard pass then handed off to Hall who racked up 61 yards on four carries.
“I don’t think it was hard to duplicate their speed in practice,” Penn State cornerback Jordan Lucas said. “Obviously their receivers were very fast and quick off the ball but I don’t feel like we had trouble with that today. (It was) just miscommunication and coverage busts.”
Ohio State used four scoring plays of 26 or more yards to put the game out of reach.
Penn State tried to match Ohio State’s opening score but couldn’t capitalize on a long drive. After running 12 plays to get into the red zone, Christian Hackenberg was intercepted at the goal line by Corey “Pitt” Brown.
Hackenberg finished with 12 completions on 23 attempts for 112 yards and two interceptions. He hit Brandon Felder on a 12-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter to cut Ohio State’s lead to 28-7. Hackenberg left the game and had his right shoulder wrapped in the third quarter. He was replaced by Tyler Ferguson who tossed a 65-yard touchdown pass to Allen Robinson midway through the fourth quarter.
After Miller left the game, Ohio State backup quarterback Kenny Guiton scored on a two-yard run in the third quarter and added an 11-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.