OHIO WON. A near-perfect first half dissolved into a second-half nightmare for Penn State, as a 14-3 lead at the break became a 24-14 home defeat against the MAC favorites in Bill O'Brien's Nittany Lion debut. The Bobcats took the lead on a Tyler Tettleton one-yard touchdown plunge late in the third quarter before clinching the win with a backbreaking 14-play, 93-yard, 6 minute 47-second scoring drive, going up 10 points with less than 3 minutes to play. Matt McGloin completed 27-of-48 passes but for only 259 yards, a meager 5.4 yards per attempt.
WHY OHIO WON. When all was said and done, it was simple: the Bobcats were the better team.
That's not often the case when a MAC squad travels to one of the most famous stadiums in college football to meet one of the sport's most storied programs, but in the wake of the mass defections from the Nittany Lion roster, it's the truth. The best player on the field was Ohio's irrepressible junior quarterback Tettleton, who completed 31 of 41 passes for 324 yards and added several big plays on the ground for good measure; the Bobcats were the more poised, disciplined team, committing no turnovers to Penn State's three and never flinching when the Nittany Lions went up 11 at the half; they finished the game having outgained the home team 499-352. (This game -- and the Bobcats' long fourth quarter march, in which they converted four different third downs, putting them at 12-for-20 for the game -- will do nothing to repair the damaged reputation for former Auburn defensive coordinator Ted Roof.)
In short, this was no fluke. It may have been an upset in terms of the Vegas line and the prestige of the two programs, but it lookd like anything but on the field. And that being the case, if you're a Penn State fan, it's hard to be optimistic about where the team goes from here.
WHEN OHIO WON. Given that the Nittany Lions had failed to score at all for the half's preceding 27 minutes, Tettleton's perfectly executed 5-yard fade to Donte Foster with 2:55 to play was the final dagger. Asking McGloin, game as he'd been, to direct two scoring drives in the allotted time remaining (with an onsides kick recovery sandwiched between) was asking entirely too much.
WHAT OHIO WON. Though the wild-n'-wacky MAC typically doesn't let its champions through unscathed, it's impossible to look at the Bobcats' schedule -- with nonconference games against New Mexico State, Marshall, and Norfolk State -- and not think Frank Solich's team can make a serious run at 12-0. Solich won't want to hear it, but after Saturday, the Bobcats have to be considered a dark horse for a BCS bowl bid.
WHAT PENN STATE LOST. First off, a chance to claim a critical home victory in what could be an uphill fight to even make the postseason. But just as importantly, whatever mystique or weight simply being "Penn State" carried into this season has been lost. There won't be a team on the Nittany Lions' schedule that won't look at what Ohio did Saturday and think anything other than "we can take these guys." That's not to say O'Brien and the Lions are already doomed to a failure of a season, but it's also fair to say that whatever they get in 2012, they're going to have to earn.
THAT WAS CRAZY. Joe Paterno -- or, at least, an irredeemably creepy cardboard cutout of him -- made an appearance in the Penn State luxury boxes: