Ohio State goes into Happy Valley and is left feeling elated. What was a season left for dead after an embarrassing loss to Purdue, now has the possibility of culminating in another BCS trip.
Here are five things we learned after taking in the biggest win by Ohio State in a couple of years:
5. Penn State's Defensive Stats and Record May Have Been a Product of Playing a Soft Schedule:
I will never sit here and say that Penn State is not a good football team. Anyone who can see a television set can see that the team has talent. What I am a little leery of at this point is just how good they are.
Penn State entered the game as the leading defense in almost every category among Big 10 teams. They left the field knowing that they just played a defensive team that is much better than their own unit.
Penn State had gaudy numbers, but mainly because their out of conference schedule was littered with more cupcakes than a church potluck.
When it is all said and done, Penn State has yet to beat a team of great quality. They are an above average team at best.
4. Ohio State's Defense is Really Good:
We have been saying as much throughout the entire year, but to hold Penn State to only one score, and to only 76 yards rushing, and 201 overall says a lot. Penn State rarely gets overwhelmed like they did on Saturday, especially at home.
Ohio State's defensive line was in the backfield all day disrupting any kind of rhythm that the Nittany Lions could muster. Their silver bullet's linebackers and secondary were all over the field putting the clamps on everyone else.
Ohio State's defense is predicated on getting pressure with four guys, dropping back, and not giving up the big play. It has worked wonders so far this year.
3. The Offense is Beginning to Find its Identity:
Three straight solid outings for the offense is nothing to take lightly. It has taken the coaches and players more than half of the season to figure out what they really are, but you can see things starting to take shape.
What Ohio State always has been, is a run first team. Occasionally, they sprinkle in play action or a play to give Terrelle Pryor an option to run or pass when in need of critical plays.
Over the last few games, what we have seen is a very slight evolution of getting the young receiving core out on the outside with quick passes in space. They are now putting Pryor in a position to make an easy read and pass. From there, they take their shots deep just when the defense is sucked in.
The result: Pryor did not have to try and do too much, and was left to manage the game instead of thinking he had to will his team to victory. Well done...
2. Cameron Heyward is a Beast:
We've always known that Cameron Heyward possessed a great upside ever since he was cast into the fire as a freshman.
What we didn't know is how he would grow into a man child toward the end of this year. You could make an argument for Heyward being the MVP of this game. I cannot remember watching a game in which a defensive lineman lead the team in tackles like Heyward did Saturday.
The defensive line set the tempo for this game, and Heyward was the world class conductor. Now about going pro next year...
1. Jim Tressel Can Still Come Up With Great Game Plans:
Say what you will, but Ohio State was extremely prepared to step onto the turf in State College Saturday. Their head coach surely had a lot to do with it.
Ohio State came in with a great game plan of taking away the big play on defense, while using a mix of run and efficient short passes to be efficient on offense.
Another great sign of a coach that has his act together is the adjustments made at halftime. The scoring after halftime in this one: Ohio State 14, Penn State 0.
As much heat as Tressel has taken over the last couple of years because of his game plans and conservative play calling, he and the entire coaching staff is to be commended for how things transpired in this contest.
It's back home next week against an Iowa team that may be without its quarterback and leader. We'll see how the Hawkeyes respond, and if Ohio State can keep getting better.
One thing is for sure, Buckeye Nation will sleep well tonight.