STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- A few things Ohio State will feel good about and some issues it will need to correct after adding one more win to its perfect start with a 35-23 victory over Penn State at Beaver Stadium on Saturday evening:
1. He's back: If there was any lingering soreness, Braxton Miller didn't show it. The sophomore quarterback wasn't perfect, looking uncertain at time with his decisions and inaccurate at others by missing open receivers, but he bounced back from his scary injury with another signature performance. Miller made a 1-yard touchdown into a must-see highlight, was hit on the biggest throw of the game with a delivery to Jake Stoneburner for a 72-yard score that clinched the outcome and finished with 134 more yards on the ground to add to his Heisman Trophy candidacy.
2. Making a memory: Ryan Shazier put his heart on his jersey, changing numbers to honor the memory of a friend he lost earlier in the year. And whether it was the emotion the sophomore linebacker poured into the game or the more aggressive defensive schemes, either way Shazier turned in one of his most complete efforts. He still isn't a finished product, but his interception return for a touchdown dramatically swung the momentum and he added seven tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble on top of that.
3. Trophy case: The race isn't over in the Leaders Division, but the Buckeyes are clearly in control of the bid for the only trophy they can win this season. Penn State came into the weekend as the closest competitor without a loss in Big Ten play in three tries, but Ohio State now has a two-game lead in the win column plus a head-to-head edge over the Nittany Lions heading into what figures to be an easier game next week against Illinois. Another win for the Buckeyes might come close to locking up some hardware.
1. Kicking themselves: Another week, another blunder on special teams. Eventually the plays such as the missed assignment that helped Penn State block a punt and score its only touchdown of the first half might come back to haunt the Buckeyes, but that hasn't happened yet this season, obviously. Injuries have really taken a toll on Ohio State in the kicking game, but it has had issues with consistency in that phase even before bodies started dropping out of the lineup -- and that will drive Meyer crazy giving the emphasis he puts on winning with his specialists.
2. Start it: The Nittany Lions continued their trend of shutting down opponents in the first half, and the Buckeyes didn't seem a likely candidate to turn it around given their own struggles to get rolling. If not for a dominant defensive performance and a helpful penalty on special teams by Penn State, though, the wild early throws from Miller and the inability to string together first downs before halftime could have ended a different streak -- the nine-game roll the Buckeyes have been on.
3. Finish it: For all the positives the defense could have focused on, the inability to finish off an otherwise sparkling performance had Ohio State's attention after the win was official. The late touchdown Penn State punched in wasn't nearly enough to put the outcome in jeopardy, but everybody from Shazier to Urban Meyer voiced displeasure in not finishing the game on a high note -- particularly with the memory of what happened two weeks ago against Indiana still fresh.