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Buckeyes Buckeye Archive Braxton is Back - Buckeyes Pound Penn State
Written by Dan Wismar

Dan Wismar

Braxton PSU12fTurns out Braxton Miller is okay. The Buckeyes’ sensational sophomore proved too much for Penn State to handle, rushing for two touchdowns and throwing for a third, as OSU stayed unbeaten with a 35-23 win in Happy Valley. Ohio State (9-0, 5-0) assumed sole possession of first place in the Leaders Division of the Big Ten, while Penn State (5-3, 3-1) saw their winning streak end at five games.

OSU linebacker Ryan Shazier returned a Matt McGloin interception for a touchdown to break a 7-7 tie in the third quarter, and the Buckeyes went on to dominate the quarter with a bruising no-huddle rushing attack featuring Miller, Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith. Miller quieted the white-clad crowd with two touchdown runs in the period, including a 1-yarder of the ankle-breaking, jaw-dropping variety that has become his trademark, as the Buckeyes surged to a 28-10 lead.

The Nittany Lions would make it interesting with a long touchdown drive early in the 4th quarter, but Miller put it out of reach with a 72-yard touchdown pass to Jake Stoneburner on a 3rd-and 5 play with six minutes remaining. The Ohio State defense didn’t allow a touchdown until the 4th quarter, and the Buckeyes once again survived a blocked Ben Buchanan punt for a touchdown.

Guess What?....Slow Start

Hyde PSU12cPlaying Penn State to a scoreless tie in the first quarter had to feel like a win for the Buckeyes, considering the Lions 66-0 scoring edge over their opponents in the opening period this year. The first nine possessions of the game ended in punts, until Penn State turned the ball over on downs deep in OSU territory. But the Lions grabbed the lead first when they blocked Buchanan’s punt and recovered it in the end zone with 6:15 to go in the half.

Ohio State mounted the tying touchdown drive before the half ended though, aided by a defensive holding penalty on Penn State that kept the possession alive. They didn’t complete a pass in that 12-play, 75-yard drive, but Miller broke out of his early game doldrums with the key play, a 33-yard run down to the PSU 6-yard line, setting up a short Carlos Hyde TD run.

Third Quarter Dominance

After Shazier gave the Buckeyes the lead with his 17-yard pick-six just three plays into the second half, Ohio State went back to the ground game that had worked for them just before the break. Meyer decided to go no-huddle in an attempt to tire out a Penn State defensive line that had given OSU trouble in the early going. The final rushing total for OSU of 234 yards, to just 32 net rushing yards for Penn State tell the tale.

The hurry-up strategy worked, as the OSU offensive line wore down the NIttany Lion defenders, and Miller finished off two drives with short TD runs. On the first one, he kept the ball on a read option to the right side, and looked to be trapped about the 5-yard line...but managed to juke two bewildered and helpless Lion defenders, and then launch himself into the end zone on a dive from two yards out.

Another Down then Up Day for Braxton

Braxton PSU12dIt was another “Wow!” moment for the young quarterback from Dayton, who rushed for 134 yards, and in the process became just the third Big Ten quarterback to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season. (Robinson, Randle-El), with a running total now of 1,093, with three games to go.

Miller didn’t look sharp throwing the ball early...missing a wide open Corey Brown on what would certainly have been a TD in the first quarter...and sailed several other throws off-target. In fact, when he connected with Stoneburner for the clinching TD, the 72 yards doubled his passing yardage total on the day, and he finished with 143 yards and one TD, on 7 of 19 passing.

Braxton also demonstrated that he is learning how to take care of himself a little better after his trip to the hospital a week ago. He sacrificed yardage for safety more than once, with slides to down himself, or quick steps out of bounds to avoid hits. A combination of coaching and survival instinct, I’m guessing.  

Miller did have help on offense of course. Carlos Hyde picked 55 tough yards on 22 carries, and Rod Smith added 48 more on just four tries. Receiver Evan Spencer had a nice day with 3 catches for 33 yards, including two big third down grabs to convert first downs at key moments.  

Boren Steadies the Defense

Shazier PSU12aThis game was won in the trenches, as the OSU front seven played one of its strongest games of the season, sacking McGloin four times and mercilessly stuffing the Penn State running attack. Once again, newly-minted linebacker Zach Boren tied for the team lead in tackles with seven, and his presence in the middle seems to have had a stabilizing effect on the whole unit. He is active in pass coverage on top of being a solid tackler, and he just shows up in the right place most of the time.

It was Shazier though, who was the playmaker for the Buckeye defense on this day. He had two sacks of McGloin, causing a fumble on one of them, and his interception for a TD gave the whole team a kick-start in the all important 3rd quarter. His seven stops tied Boren for tops on the team. Bradley Roby had another strong game at corner as well, making five tackles and breaking up four passes.

The Buckeyes last three opponents of the 2012 season all lost on Saturday. Wisconsin fell to Michigan State in overtime, (also losing starting QB Joel Stave for the season with a broken collarbone). Michigan lost to Nebraska (Denard Robinson was knocked out of the game in the 2nd quarter and didn’t return), and Illinois was the victim as Indiana won their first Big Ten game since 2010.


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(photo credits - Jim Davidson, Dan Harker -

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