Posted by ESPN.com’s David Albright
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- A few quick thoughts at halftime in Happy Valley as Ohio State leads Penn State 10-7.
Stat of the half: 4.9. That’s how many yards per passing attempt the two teams have combined for so far. With both defenses in the top 10 nationally in total defense a low-output affair was expected by many. And there has only been 280 total yards through the first 30 minutes so it’s likely to be tight the rest of the way. This could clearly come down to the special teams units, both of which played a role in the first half.
Best player in the half: You could make an argument for Penn State quarterback Daryll Clark, who scored the Nittany Lions only touchdown, or for Ohio State punt returner Ray Small, who set up the Buckeyes’ only touchdown. Also, any number of players on either defense has delivered as expected so far. But I would go with the unconventional choice of Ohio State backup kicker Devin Barclay. He’s the difference in the game as his 37-yard field goal gave the Buckeyes the 10-7 lead. But more importantly he may have convinced coach Jim Tressel that he’s up to the task if this game comes down to a late field goal try.
What Ohio State needs to do: Find a passing attack -- even a little one. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor was just 3 of 9 for 33 yards in the first half. By the end of the second quarter it was clear that Penn State didn’t respect the Buckeyes’ passing game and it made even tougher for Boom Herron (13 carries, 51 yards) to find anywhere to run. If Pryor can’t loosen up the Nittany Lions defense a bit the yards are going to be hard to come by in the final two quarters. Ohio State also needs to cut down on the penalties (6 for 46 yards).
What Penn State needs to do: Find a running game. Just like Ohio State’s dearth of passing, the Nittany Lions haven’t found a consistent way to move the ball on the ground (18 carries, 44 yards). That’s not a huge surprise as the Buckeyes came into the game with the nation’s sixth best rushing defense (86.4 yards per game). If that continues then the pressure on Clark to create something through the air is going to continue to mount.