COLUMBUS – Ask and you shall receive.
Receive and pass and run and sack and intercept and dominate.
No. 4 Ohio State (8-0, 4-0 Big Ten) got the game it has been looking for all season when it beat Penn State 63-14 on Saturday night at Ohio Stadium.
Almost all the questions that have been asked over and over again about the Buckeyes, even though they had run off seven straight wins to start the season, were answered.
For one night, at least.
Braxton Miller completed 18 of 24 passes for 252 yards and three touchdowns and ran for two more scores and Carlos Hyde rushed for 147 yards on 16 carries and two touchdowns to lead the Buckeyes to their 20th straight win with Urban Meyer as coach.
Ohio State’s offense rolled up 686 yards, 408 of it on the ground. Its defense sacked Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg four times and intercepted two passes.
The domination was total. OSU ended up punishing Penn State almost as hard as the NCAA did.
“You can’t predict how it’s going to turn out. We had a hard week of preparation and it turned out well,” Miller said.
“We’ve got to keep our foot on the pedal. We can’t overlook any opponent,” he said.
Even with a 7-0 record, there had been questions about OSU’s ability to defend the pass. There were questions about whether its youthful defensive line could get pressure on good quarterbacks.
There were questions about why the Buckeyes kept winning close games and their seeming inability to dominate an opponent.
Freshman phenom Hackenberg was supposed to be a quarterback who would be a thorn in the side of OSU’s defense. Instead, he was on the sideline 6 ½ minutes into the second half, watching his backup Tyler Ferguson play with Ohio State up 49-7.
Think Ohio State wasn’t serious about dominating this game? Think it didn’t want to win big?
With a 49-7 lead, it lined up in a formation that had Kenny Guiton at quarterback and Miller at wide receiver and scored on a 2-yard run by Guiton.
With a 56-7 lead, it challenged the officials’ spot of the football that would have given Penn State a first down and won the challenge.
Until Saturday, the most points Ohio State had ever scored against Penn State was 45 in a 45-6 win in 2000.
The Buckeyes’ 63 points was the most given up by a Penn State football team since Duquesne scored 64 points in 1899.
Ohio State scored on six of its seven possessions in the first half – on drives of 75 yards, 88 yards, 52 yards, 60 yards, 45 yards and 84 yards to take a 42-7 lead after two quarters.
That 84-yard drive in the final minute of the first half, which ended with a 25-yard scoring throw from Miller to wide receiver Corey Brown, took only 52 seconds and delivered a message. Two of them, actually.
The first message was that the Buckeyes were in this to dominate. The second was that the touchdown, not the punt, has become the most important play in football at Ohio State.
Penn State arrived in Columbus hoping it was riding a wave of momentum after its four-overtime 43-40 win over Michigan two weeks ago the last time it was on the field.
But it quickly became apparent that wasn’t going to happen.
Ohio State took a 7-0 lead just over three minutes into the game on a 2-yard run by Hyde.
Penn State (4-3, 1-2 Big Ten) responded by driving to Ohio State’s 7-yard line, but safety Corey Brown picked off Hackenberg in the end zone. It was the first interception of the season for Brown.
Ohio State had to punt on its possession after Brown’s interception, but after that it was unstoppable in the first half, scoring on five straight series.
Miller completed 15 of 18 passes in the first half for 204 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for two more on runs of 39 yards and 6 yards. Hyde had 130 yards on 13 carries in the first two quarters and scored two touchdowns.