Maybe Ohio State isn’t going to lose this year. It’s at least starting to feel that way, in a season that could pose as a flashback of OSU’s last perfect season.
Almost 10 years ago, a late-game pick-six propelled OSU to a victory against Penn State, keeping the Buckeyes’ dreams of a perfect season alive. Saturday, sophomore linebacker Ryan Shazier’s interception for a touchdown sparked a 21-point third quarter, en route to a 35-23 victory against the Nittany Lions.
On the field, OSU has been anything but perfect this season. There have been countless mistakes, embarrassing defensive lapses and a rash of untimely injuries. But thanks to some incredible individual efforts, late-game heroics and even a few lucky bounces, the Buckeyes are 9-0 with three games to go.
The Lacking Leaders
It’s been a fairly embarrassing season thus far for the Big Ten, and no one represents that better than the conference’s Leaders Division.
OSU and Penn State sit atop the division, but both are sanctioned from representing the Leaders in the conference championship game. Wisconsin will likely go in place, even if they finish as the division’s third-best team.
The Badgers are 3-2 in conference play, but with the wins coming against the likes of Illinois, Purdue and Minnesota, they haven’t impressed anybody.
Prior to the season, Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald suggested that a committee could select an opponent to play the winner of the Legends Division in the conference championship game. That suggestion doesn’t sound so egregious right now.
Give an extra helmet sticker to…
Sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller.
There are times when generally-important things such as the play call and blocking just don’t matter, because Miller is simply the most gifted athlete on the field.
It happened again against Penn State in one of the most important plays in the game.
Leading 14-10 late in the third quarter, OSU faced a third-and-goal from the one-yard line. On a read option play, Miller pulled the ball away from junior running back Carlos Hyde at the last possible second, hopped backwards to evade one defender, and then dove past another for the touchdown.
The score gave OSU a two-possession lead, and deflated a home crowd that likely thought the defense had stopped Hyde, and then Miller, short of the goal line.
Miller rushed for 134 yards and two touchdowns in his first trip to Happy Valley, and became the first Buckeye quarterback to ever surpass 1,000 yards rushing in a season.