Originally posted on Crystal Ball Run  |  Last updated 11/20/11


Undoubtedly, Penn State and Ohio State are at a crossroads for their respective programs. Scandal has come to dominate the headlines for their seasons.

Let their matchup against each other remind everyone that they can still be potent football teams – young and not ready for national championship contention, perhaps – and can put the distractions behind them to put on an entertaining show.

Even though Luke Fickell and Tom Bradley may not be the head coaches when the 2012 season kicks off, Ohio State and Penn State football will endure.

Penn State set up its showdown with Wisconsin for the Big Ten Leaders Division crown at Madison, Wis., next week by toppling Ohio State 20-14 at the Horseshoe on Saturday.

This was an ugly, stereotypical Big Ten game. The run games were tough, the defenses even tougher. Every yard mattered, and no team could give up on any chances afforded to them. Ohio State freshman quarterback Braxton Miller learned that more than any other player in this one.

With Ohio State trailing by six, and Miller doing everything possible to keep plays alive and gain yards, Miller scrambled away from a sack on 4th and 10 at the Penn State 41. He had enough green in front of him to have a chance to pick up the first down. But the Nittany Lions were able to track down Miller and stop him a yard short.

Against this stout Nittany Lions defense, all that was left were a few desperation heaves in the dying seconds.

Miller certainly appeared to be the breakout star with 105 yards on 18 carries and 83 yards on 8-for-18 passing. His play was both exhilarating in his ability to dodge defenders and create plays and frustrating in his inability to keep the Buckeyes moving and generating offense consistently. It is tough to remember sometimes that he is just a freshman and has a lot of growth ahead of him. Now is not his time.

But now does appear to be Penn State's time. Even with the pall of the scandal hanging over the program the last few weeks, the Nittany Lions are one win away from playing the Michigan State Spartans in the Big Ten Championship Game.

Penn State was fast out of the gates to score its two touchdowns. The Nittany Lions took the opening drive to the house on a 39-yard run by Stephfon Green. On the day, Penn State racked up 239 total rushing yards, with Green leading the way with 98 rushing yards.

Twice Penn State took 10-point leads and was able to hold on. The Nittany Lions wrapped up the scoring with a field goal to end the first half.

The defenses took over in the second half, as those have become the hallmark of these teams this year. Ohio State had a goal-line stand, keeping Penn State out of the end zone on three consecutive plays from the one-yard line. The Nittany Lions made their stand, too. They forced fumbles on consecutive drives – including one after that goal-line stand – to bring momentum back to their side.

And that is where the real difference between these two teams came into play. As much adversity as they have both overcome, it is the even-keel play of Matt McGloin that made the difference.

He never made the spectacular plays Miller seemed to make, but McGloin was consistent in a 10-for-18, 88-yard performance. Early on, especially, he showed command and confidence in running this offense without Rob Bolden looking over his shoulder. Add in the new Wildcat offense wrinkle to the team, and Penn State had multiple ways to attack Ohio State.

Even with everything going on around both teams, you get the feeling that both Ohio State and Penn State can head in the right direction on the field, at least.

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