Penn State And Ohio State Showing Their MettleFootball, The Rev — By Rev. P. Revere on October 24, 2012 at 11:47 am
For the first time in more than 20 years, the Big Ten football conference is going to live up to its moniker. Thanks to the sanctions levied on Penn State and Ohio State, the 12-team Big Ten has been reduced to just 10 teams eligible for the second Big Ten Championship Game.
And wouldn’t you know it, as the Ohio State Buckeyes travel to State College to take on the Penn State Nittany Lions this Saturday, there may not be two teams in the conference playing any better football right now than the besmirched top two teams in the Leaders Division.
Through eight weeks, only three teams remain undefeated in Big Ten play: ninth-ranked Ohio State, sitting at 4-0 in the conference and 8-0 overall; 20th-ranked Michigan, sitting at 3-0 in the Big Ten and 5-2 overall; and Penn State, also 3-0 in the conference and 5-2 overall following its most impressive outing of the season in Iowa City.
As good as Michigan has been following tough losses to Alabama and Notre Dame, Denard Robinson isn’t putting on the kind of the show he has the past few seasons. In fact, he’s getting the Big Ten headlines stolen from the likes of fellow signal-callers Matt McGloin and Braxton Miller, the two men who will square off at 5:30 p.m. Saturday in Happy Valley (assuming Miller is ready to go).
It’s kind of ironic when you think about it. The two hottest teams in the conference, the two that have arguably been the most fun to watch in recent weeks, are the two that were supposed to be cast aside and forgotten about. Next year is supposed to be Ohio State’s year, with the postseason ban lifted, Urban Meyer’s system firmly entrenched and Braxton Miller set for a run at the Heisman, as the Buckeyes were supposed to use 2012 as a building block for 2013. For Penn State, it was supposed to be a difficult season, one that focused more on moving forward and forgetting the past than competing for a top spot in the conference. It was Bill O’Brien’s job to start laying a new foundation for a fallen program.
Only nobody told Penn State and Ohio State they were supposed to follow the script. Or if they did, the Buckeyes and Lions simply weren’t having any of it.
Everyone knew Ohio State was going to be good, that Urban Meyer was going to put his stamp on the program and do what he’s done everywhere: win. But with the scholarship restrictions and the postseason ban, it was thought the Buckeyes may be a year away from really breaking out. Now, they’re one of only a handful of undefeated teams remaining the country, cracking the top 10 and putting up offensive numbers that are eye-popping — even if the victories haven’t always been pretty.
While the Buckeyes are not the stout defensive team they’ve been over the years, they possess one of the most potent offenses in football. Led by sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller and his talented receivers Corey Brown and Devin Smith, the Buckeyes are averaging 39 points a game and have scored a conference-leading 43 touchdowns. And they’re doing it with amazing balance, averaging 249.6 yards per game on the ground while having the second-highest passing efficiency — 136.8 — in the conference.
It’s a testament to Meyer and his system, no doubt, but none of this would be possible without Miller, who right now is fourth in the Big Ten with 959 yards rushing, fourth in pass efficiency and second only to Denard Robinson in total offense. At this point, there may not be a more terrifying attack or a more electrifying player in the Big Ten than Ohio State and Braxton Miller.