It was a tale of two different halves for the Penn State football team on Saturday afternoon.
The first half showed a new look Nittany Lions offense that showed promise, with Matt McGloin having the best half of football in his career passing for 178 yards and two touchdowns.
Penn State's defense kept the Ohio offense at bay in the first half, only giving up a Matt Weller field goal with 10:22 remaining in the second quarter. The Nittany Lions also held the Ohio attack to just 167 yards of total offense in the first two quarters.
However, the second half did not go so well for the Nittany Lions.
The offense along with the defense became extremely stagnant and the Bobcats took advantage. Ohio outscored the Nittany Lions 21-0 in the third and fourth quarters and Bill O'Brien's first game at the helm for Penn State did not go the way Nittany Nation had hoped.
Ohio's spread offense with a "pistol" format absolutely gutted the NIttany Lion defense in the second half.
Penn State gave up 301 yards of offense in second half. Ohio quarterback Tyler Tettleton was a known threat to the PSU defense coming into Saturday and he didn't disappoint. Tettleton was pretty accurate on the afternoon and didn't make mistakes going 31 for 41 with 324 yards and two touchdowns through the air. Tettleton also carried the ball nine times for 47 yards and a score.
Tettleton's partner in crime on the afternoon was running back Beau Blankenship. The junior running back played with a hard-nosed approach for most of the ball game and pounded out 109 yards on 31 carries. Penn State didn't perform badly against the run on the day, only giving up about 3.7 yards per carry, but the Bobcats got key yardage when they needed to.
Simply put, the PSU defense was a disappointment in the second half. They looked gassed at times and depth looked to be an issue as Ohio picked up the intensity on the offensive end.
"We gotta coach a lot better, get back to practice on Monday, gotta review film tomorrow," said O'Brien. "Defense has to make stops. We all have to coach better and it starts with me. I gotta coach better. Nothing surprised me about their offense, we just have to do a lot better."
The Nittany Lions offense disappeared in the second half.
The third quarter was not kind to Penn State and they couldn't get much of anything going. McGloin and the offense only came up with 49 yards of offense in the third and 155 yards in total in the second half. The Bobcats made noticeable adjustments in their coverage and the Penn State offense seemed to be stifled. McGloin often looked to the check down receiver and missed some long-range targets as well. Still O'Brien expressed he was not disappointed with McGloin's performance.
"I think he made some plays," said O'Brien. "He's made a lot of strides and I'm going to do a better job for him."
The turning point in the game came at the 10:40 mark in the third quarter. Ohio quarterback Tyler Tettleton dropped back and threw an errant ball across the middle that should have been intercepted by PSU defensive back Stephen Obeng-Agyapong. Instead, the ball tipped off Obeng-Agyapong fingers and fell into the hands of the Bobcat's Landon Smith for a 43-yard score. The Smith touchdown brought the Penn State lead to 14-10. Tettleton then punched in another touchdown seven minutes later and put the nail in the coffin with a a beautiful fade to the back left corner of the end zone to Donte Foster with 2:55 left in the fourth.
"Ohio is a very, very good football team, a veteran team, coached by an excellent head coach and they beat us. We lost to the better team today," said O'Brien. "I just told them in the locker room that it's a long season and that's one game. We gotta learn from our mistakes and we can still be a good football team. I told them the number one priority is that I'm gonna come to work tomorrow and do a better job for them."