Teams that have mastered as many football skills as the Buckeyes (2-0) are rare in the college department.
“We have a lot of guns,” said Ryan Day, 18-1 as head coach.
“I think we really made a statement today about what kind of team we have, that we’re not one-dimensional, we can do all kinds of things,” said Jeremy Ruckert, who got two short touchdown passes as the football flowed like this how it flows best: by the committee.
Even when a brief tension after half welcomed Penn State’s # 18 75-yard drive for a touchdown that meant a past 21-3 deficit had narrowed to 21-13, that tension had a caveat. If you score against Ohio State, the ball goes back to quarterback Justin Fields and his teammates.
Within two and a half minutes, Fields had thrown a handsome 49-yard touchdown pass on the left sideline to Chris Olave. The accuracy glowed as the lead increased again.
In the end, Fields had put a 28v34 result on his 20v21 result against Nebraska last week, a staggering 48:55 last season. Obviously, he had his own present and future in mind as he lobbied so hard and publicly as an Ohio State sophomore quarterback who moved from Georgia and starred last season to play once the Big Ten had canceled this fall season for the first time, but only one might see it as a public service as well. Those in the mood for high-profile quarterbacking can see someone even more refined than they were in their stellar 2019, someone still significantly injured from that final interception in the semifinals of the College Football Playoffs on December 28th against Clemson.
It’s almost too obvious to mention that he hasn’t thrown any interceptions under his 55 passes this time around. He threw three – against 41 touchdown passes last year.
“We put so much work into the off-season,” said Fields. “I scratched my bum.”
Then there’s the annual Ohio state nightmares churn that must be defended or that you will defend. Some nightmares keep coming back, others keep coming back. Now there’s Garrett Wilson, the receiver who spent the inaugural offensive game running into 62 yards of open ground to make a delivery. There’s the eight people who caught footballs, led by Wilsons 11 for 111 yards and Olaves seven for 120, which also included a great deal on the final sliver of the end zone on the left for a 26 yard touchdown catch, who made it 14-. 0. “I think the combination of our receivers chasing deep balls and Justin throwing the ball across the field with accuracy is tremendous,” said Day, who brings some NFL experience to his playing role.
There is Master Teague III who rushed for 110 yards 23 times. There is an offensive line that often pushed Penn State (0-2). It’s no wonder that Day played two quarter-finals while driving in the fourth quarter, bringing the score to 38:19. “I needed a drink after this ride,” he said of the one that ended with Fields’ 1-yard touchdown pass for Ruckert, but added, “He has to be trusted.”
There are defenders like Jonathon Cooper and Pete Werner who drove Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford to the spoil of an early quarterfinal game, or Zach Harrison who once nearly devoured both Clifford and a back trying to block for him .
None of this was observed by the usual over 100,000 who couldn’t attend a cold pandemic Halloween night with a full moon and only the families of the players were there. They couldn’t pull off the traditional Penn State white-out spectacle.
This fact, of course, also confirmed a saying: Sometimes it is better not to see things.
Sure, they would have seen one of the catches of the year, a one-sided miracle for a 21-yard touchdown on the left sideline from Penn State’s Jahan Dotson, who caught eight passes for 144 yards and three points. They would have seen their team show some courage, even if they hadn’t seen themselves and their program as a unit that needed courage. They would have seen their coach walk fourth and second off Penn State’s 45-yard line with more than 11 minutes in the first quarter, a token of respect (to Fields et al.) If there was ever one.
Maybe they could have spent some time arguing about it.
But most of the time, when their team fell behind 21-3 and 31-13 and 38-19, they would have stayed as quiet as the cardboard clippings Penn State used to raise money to help families cope with childhood cancer, even if they briefly found solace in two games of Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s eternal “Monster Mash”. Otherwise, even Fields’ ailments were often cured by his litters.
During an 89-yard run in the second quarter that went down 21-3, a snap from Penn State’s 1-yard line managed to fly over his handle for a 13-yard loss, and he did it to model exactly what one should do in such situations. He stopped trying to pick it up and just dropped onto the thing. When he nearly tripped in the third quarter, he still looked up and turned to Jake Hausmann for a 13 yard profit. With a rusher charging in next door, at least threatening to change the throw, he still steered a corner throw of 26 yards to Wilson.
“He’s worked really hard this week getting ready in the boardroom,” said Day. “He was there. When you start bringing the meeting room to the field with ease, you become special. ”
He threw all kinds of touchdown passes, four of them, the two to Olave and the two to Ruckert, a third and a fourth. He was a sight to see, this artist Fields, unless you were on the side that preferred not to see him.