Its hard to believe that the team in Scarlet and Gray after the clock ran out was the same lowly bunch that wore those uniforms in the first half.
The Buckeyes were down 11 at halftime before exploding in the second half to win, 38-14, over Penn State.
“Our guys went out the second half and took over, but I think it was fueled by how hard that defense fought in that last series that they had to stop them,” coach Jim Tressel said. “We weren't a great first-half team. That's the facts.”
The fact is now, however, that regardless of their lackluster first half, Ohio State is two wins away from breaking a Big Ten record and winning their sixth conference title.
As Penn State drove late in the second quarter, up already 14-3 it looked as if the Buckeyes were headed for another “Wisconsin-like” hole.
On 4th and one from the 17 yard-line, however, Jermile Hines burst across the line and knocked the ball carrier backward. Ohrian Johnson helped clean up the play and the Buckeyes got themselves out of monumental trouble.
“We talked at halftime about the fact that the turning point in the game was when we stopped them on fourth down in the second quarter and that all the stories were going to be written as that being a turning point,” Tressel said.
Apparently even after the stop the Buckeyes got a wake up call at halftime.
Ohio State’s usually calm, even keeled coach was no where to be found at halftime. Tressel channeled his inner “Woody” and supposedly laid into his team about their weak first half performance.
“The halftime locker room was not a fun place,” Tressel said. “But it was not a place that looked like there was any quit in anybody.”
Tressel’s players described his demeanor at halftime as unlike anything they had ever seen.
Quarterback Terrelle Pryor said he thought Tressel was yelling “at the top of his lungs” and other players said they couldn’t even remember what he was saying but that just seeing him like that was extremely motivating.
“He loves seeing us drive down the field. At halftime he made sure we knew what to do in the second half,” Tackle Mike Adams said. “We didn't want to let him down and we didn't.”
After a 98 yard drive capped by a touchdown run by Boom Herron the Buckeyes sealed the win with back-to-back interception returns for scores.
Devon Torrence, who was picked on mercilessly in the first half, put the Buckeyes up, 17-14, and after another pick-six by Travis Howard the Buckeyes were clearly in control.
"We've been there before with Wisconsin and we didn't get the outcome we wanted,” captain Cameron Heyward said. “Since then we have assessed how we can come back and really applied it tonight. We picked it up and got the game rolling in our favor."