Ohio State at Penn State was supposed to be a clash of the titans, and for a half, it certainly looked every bit like exactly that. The game stood at 0-0 after one quarter and 7-7 at the half, and neither team could solve the other's defense.
Then Urban Meyer figured it out: Just crush them.
Ohio State unleashed its power rushing attack in the third quarter and Penn State simply had no answer. The result was a 21-point outburst in the third, and it helped guide Ohio State to a 35-23 victory at Happy Valley.
Coming into the game, one of Penn State's greatest strengths was its rush defense; the Nittany Lions were 21st in the nation, giving up a paltry 113 yards per game and 3.44 yards per carry. On Saturday, the Buckeyes racked up 234 and 4.4 per carry.
Penn State had given up four rushing touchdowns for the entire season coming into the Ohio State game. On Saturday, the Buckeyes tallied three of their own.
Oh, and there was also this play.
Meanwhile, the Buckeye front seven destroyed Penn State's rushing attack. Penn State is a pass-first team to be sure, but there's no explaining away 28 rushes for 32 yards. It didn't matter which side of the ball Ohio State was on; it was winning the battle up front, and in convincing fashion.
This is not an anomaly; it is Ohio State's modus operandi. And nobody in the Big Ten can stop it.
Nebraska couldn't stop Ohio State. It didn't even come close. The Buckeyes outrushed the Cornhuskers by nearly 150 yards that day in a 63-38 OSU win.
Michigan State gives up only 100 yards per game of rushing, which leads the conference; Ohio State more than doubled that in its 17-16 victory. Oh, and the Spartans managed all of 34 yards rushing of their own.
And now here's Penn State getting absolutely worked on Saturday, leaving no doubt as to who the most physical, most talented team in the Big Ten is.
These aren't just three random opponents we cherry-picked; these are the best three teams Ohio State has faced this year. There are more tough opponents upcoming, of course—Illinois has a strong defensive front, Wisconsin is rediscovering its power rushing game and Michigan is Michigan.
But so far, Ohio State is better and more physical than anyone else it has faced, and it sure looks likely that'll continue for the rest of the season...and beyond.
What should worry the Big Ten the most is that this isn't going away next season. Braxton Miller is back in 2013. So is every Buckeye tailback. So is most of the OSU offensive line. There are bigger losses on the defensive front, but Ohio State's depth and talent there means the dropoff will be minimal.
And remember: This is only Urban Meyer's first year. Imagine what's coming next season when the focus shifts from teaching fundamentals to adding wrinkles. That team could be unstoppable.
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