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"I Can’t Describe This Feeling," A Look at What Went Wrong for the Buckeyes Saturday Night
By Patrick Murphy
 

COLUMBUS – It was the play that changed the game, and maybe the season for Ohio State and it all started with a decision.

With four and a half minutes remaining and the Buckeyes up 21-17, on fourth down Urban Meyer had a tough choice to make and he deliberated.

It was a 47-yarder, (kicker Tyler Durbin) hits that easily in practice,” Meyer said of his thought process in that moment. “It was a little bit breezy, it was a rotating wind a little bit.

“I was going back and forth. That would have put us up by seven… You punt it there, I think it was on the 30-something yard-line, and it went through my mind, and I had enough confidence in Durbin to kick that thing because he does in practice all the time.

By the time Meyer made up his mind, the play clock was running down and Durbin and the field goal unit hurried onto the field. With time running out, the group lined up hastily, with holder Cameron Johnston setting up at least a yard short of the normal seven.

The snap got off on time, but the rhythm was off. A low kick combined with the pressure of Penn State led to a blocked kick. All that was left was for Grant Haley to pick the ball up and race the 60 yards into the endzone, which he did for the game-winning score.

The hurried play changed the game, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.

Offensively we didn’t control the line of scrimmage,” Meyer said. (Quarterback J.T. Barrett) was under pressure all night when we threw it and we didn’t move them off the ball in the run game, and we gave up some big pass plays.

 

Right tackle and first-year starter Isaiah Prince was victimized all night by the Nittany Lions defensive line, while left tackle Jamarco Jones struggled as well resulting in six sacks on Barrett.

Veteran offensive lineman Billy Price made sure PSU was given respect for what they were able to do to win the line of scrimmage.

You’ve got to give credit to Penn State. Those guys are athletic, they’ve got a good defense,” he said. “They schemed us and brought one more guy than we could sometimes see or they disguised the look. You’ve got to give credit to Penn State.

Even when Barrett did have time to throw, he struggled to find open receivers. As was the case in wins the last two week, Barrett often held the ball, scanning the field before taking off running or checking it off to running back Mike Weber or Curtis Samuel in the flats. On Saturday night, this was not enough.

After the blocked field goal, the Buckeyes had the chance to drive the field and win the game, but Barrett could only connect on one downfield pass when OSU needed to go 89 yards.

“We just didn’t make the plays we needed to down the stretch,” Barrett said.

“I think it was just mental errors. I think that was part of it. Small mental mistakes. Not looking for a hot, different things like that, not clearing out on some routes so somebody else can get open.”

Sometimes a loss is just what a team needs to get weaknesses fixed and turn things around and this season is far from over for Ohio State. If the Buckeyes win the remaining games on the schedule, including a home date with No. 2 Michigan on the final Saturday of the regular season, the Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis is still a very realistic possibility, something not lost on Sam Hubbard or his teammates.

“The only thing we can do is get back to work on Monday,” he said. “This isn’t our season, this isn’t it. We’re ready to get back to work. I can’t describe this feeling. This is what we’re going to feel until the end of the season when we keep winning games. But this pit in our stomach is just terrible.”

Player profiles relevant to story:
6 - Hubbard, Sam | 16 - Burrows, Cam | 54 - Price, Billy | Coach - Meyer, Urban
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