Sunday, October 27, 2013

BUCKEYES DELIVER HUGE STATEMENT TO PENN STATE, BCS POLLSTERS

Braxton Miller posted five touchdowns against Penn State on Saturday night in Columbus. (AP)
COLUMBUS — "I take full responsibility for this loss."

Those were the words uttered Saturday night by Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien after his Nittany Lions came into Columbus and were handed their worst beating in more than a century.

With all due respect to Coach O'Brien and his willingness to field the blame, it was actually Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller who can take full responsibility for Penn State's historic loss.

The Buckeye superstar dispatched the Nittany Lions' defense Saturday night with both his arm and his legs, accounting for five touchdowns and more than 300-yards of offense, as the Buckeyes defeated their guests, 63-14, for their nation's best 20th straight win.

The fourth-ranked Buckeyes (8-0, 4-0 Big Ten) are now 20-0 under head coach Urban Meyer.

Meyer was giddy about Miller's performance Saturday night, as well as his progression as a true quarterback.

"I just love where Braxton's at right now," Meyer said. "I love the fact that he's acting like a quarterback. I'm not disrespecting Braxton. You guys know I love that guy. But I felt like he was an athlete playing quarterback a year ago. Feel like he's a quarterback that's a really good athlete now. 

"(Offensive coordinator) Tom Herman and (Miller) spend a lot of time together. Braxton comes in on his own and says, 'coach, can we spend more time together.' 

"That's a sign of a quarterback."

Miller threw for a career-high 252 yards, and added three scoring tosses against the Nittany Lions, as well as completing 75-percent of his passes in the win. He also ran in two more scores, including one for 39 yards late in the first quarter.

With teams like Alabama, Florida State and Oregon putting up monster numbers, the Buckeyes felt they needed to make a statement that they, too, can light it up with the heavyweights of college football.

"Gotta keep our foot on the pedal," Miller said following the win.

"We didn't really talk about (the other teams at the top of the poll), just watching it all day, we had all day to watch. You just can't go out there and predict whatever is going to happen. Just have preparation. 

"It turned out real well."

It did indeed.

The Buckeyes racked up 686 yards of offense, rushed for more than 400 and found pay dirt nine times in the blowout victory.

Senior tailback Carlos Hyde had another huge performance Saturday night, rushing for 147 yards — his third consecutive game of 100-plus — and two touchdowns, including one of his own from 39 yards out.

Hyde did all of his damage in a little more than a half of play.

"Carlos didn't play but two and a half quarters if I remember right," Meyer said. "That's a lot of yards against a team we have a lot of respect for. Penn State defensive line. And looks like he had 147 yards. 

"Once again, that was two and a half quarters. I see an offensive line that's one of the best in the country. I'm willing to say that. I've not seen a lot of teams play but I've been around football a long time. I'll take my offensive line anywhere. Those guys are playing very well."

Offense wasn't the only area of strength for the Buckeyes on Saturday night. Defensively, the Buckeyes played perhaps their best game of the season — at least against a quality opponent.

The Buckeyes forced three turnovers in the win, including a momentum killer on Penn State's opening drive of the game.

After marching on a 12-play drive that put the Nittany Lions inside the Buckeyes 15-yard line, Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg fired a pass in the end zone which was picked off by a leaping Corey "Pittsburgh" Brown. The interception was Brown's first of his career.

Penn State didn't see the OSU side of the field again until late in the first half.

"That was a game changer," Meyer said of Brown's interception. "When Christian Bryant goes down, that's a lot of production and leadership. And (Brown's) a guy that's been around a long time and is really deserving.

"He works awful hard at his job."

Now the Buckeyes will look to make it 21 straight when they travel to West LaFayette (Ind.) next Saturday for a tilt against Big Ten Leaders Division cellar dwellers, Purdue (1-6, 0-3).

With BCS title hopes still in reach, the Buckeyes will look for another major statement to keep stride with the upper pack.

"We don't worry about it.," Senior safety C.J. Barnett said. "Honestly, we just focus on the task at hand and next week that will be Purdue. 

"All the other stuff will take care of itself at the end of the season."