A loss like few others for Nittany Lions

Derek Levarse dlevarse@timesleader.com

October 27, 2013

COLUMBUS, Ohio — He didn’t elaborate. But there was no shortage of subjects Bill O’Brien could have been talking about.

“We’ll learn from it,” the Penn State coach said of his team’s humbling 63-14 loss at Ohio State. “And we’ll remember some things.”

The Nittany Lions weren’t talking about any rivalry during the week, but this latest game against the Buckeyes will likely stew with them all the way until next fall.

Right at the top of the list, one imagines, was Ohio State coach Urban Meyer calling timeout to challenge a Penn State fourth-down conversion in the third quarter. The Buckeyes led 56-7 at the time.

When asked specifically about that decision by Meyer, O’Brien stared silently ahead for three, four, five seconds.

“The timeout to challenge the spot?” O’Brien said finally. “I mean, he didn’t think we had the first down, so he called a timeout to challenge it.

“I have no thoughts on that.”

Meyer won the challenge and Penn State turned it over on downs.

Needing a boost in the BCS standings, the unbeaten Buckeyes crushed the undermanned Lions, delivering a loss of historic proportions.

The 63 points were third-most ever surrendered by the Lions. And the most since the 19th century — a 64-5 loss to Duquesne Athletic Club in 1899. For history buffs, that would be during the McKinley administration.

The 686 yards of offense the Buckeyes racked up were the most against a Penn State squad in any century.

“That’s probably the worst game I’ve ever experienced,” linebacker Mike Hull said.

O’Brien did, however, say he didn’t believe the Bucks ran up the score.

“No, I don’t think so,” O’Brien said. “I saw them running the ball. No.”

With backup Kenny Guiton and third-stringer Cardale Jones taking over for Braxton Miller at quarterback in the second half, the Buckeyes threw just two passes in the final 23 minutes of play.

Meyer was asked if he waited a bit longer than usual to “call off the dogs” because the Buckeyes were trying to make a national statement for their BCS push.

“Number one, we’re trying to be sportsmen,” Meyer said. “But also I didn’t want to get guys hurt. I’m not sure of the question. … I think in the third quarter we started pulling guys out, if I remember right. Carlos Hyde and Philly Brown and Braxton.

“I’m not sure the exact time. That’s the reason we do that, we pull guys, is we don’t want guys to get hurt.”

Asked a follow-up question about it, Meyer responded, “Move on.”

The few positives for Penn State were a 98-yard performance on the ground by Bill Belton, and 12 catches and 173 yards from Allen Robinson.

“I don’t think anybody quit,” O’Brien said. “Obviously Allen Robinson, he didn’t quit. … He took a look pass for a touchdown when it was 63-7, so I think that’s a good example of our team. Nobody on our team quit.

“We’ve gotta learn from it. We’ve gotta coach better against these guys. That’s two years in a row we lost to these guys. We gotta do a better job next time we play them. But give them all the credit. They’re a hell of a football team.”

Hackenberg banged up

Another item perhaps for the Lions to “remember” going forward.

Quarterback Christian Hackenberg checked out of the game midway through the third quarter and immediately had his throwing shoulder wrapped up by trainer Tim Bream.

O’Brien said Hackenberg actually was injured in the first quarter after a hit on a dead-ball play where Donovan Smith was flagged for a false start.

“One of their guys came in and slammed him to the ground,” O’Brien said. “He slammed him on his shoulder. So we’ll have to get that checked out.

“He tried to go. He’s a tough kid, man. He tried to go and he just didn’t feel good about throwing. He wanted to keep going, and I felt it was in the best interest of the team at that point to go with Tyler Ferguson. And I thought Tyler went in there and did some decent things.”

The player in question was freshman defensive lineman Joey Bosa, who was not flagged for the hit.

“I asked about it. But, you know, they really don’t give you an explanation,” O’Brien said. “Know what I mean? But, look, I don’t think that was a dirty play or anything. I think it was crowd noise and the kid maybe didn’t hear the whistle or whatever.”

Infirmary report

Safety Ryan Keiser appeared in the game, but O’Brien said he’s still limited a bit by a cast, revealing that Keiser had suffered a broken hand that required surgery following the Kent State game in September.

As such, former walk-on Jesse Della Valle got his first career start, playing at safety opposite Malcolm Willis. Adrian Amos moved back down to corner, replacing Trevor Williams.

“It’s tough for (Keiser) at times, but he’s fighting through it,” O’Brien said. “Jesse had a good week of practice, so we decided to go with Jesse. Jesse’s a tough kid.”

Linebacker Glenn Carson briefly went to the locker room with trainers in the second half because of a finger injury.

“He’ll be fine,” O’Brien said, noting that Carson could have returned had the score not been so lopsided.

Freshman wideout Richy Anderson did not make the trip for academic reasons.

“He needed to study,” O’Brien said. “To open his books and study this weekend.”