COLUMBUS, Ohio - What's brewing with the 2013 Ohio State Buckeyes
BUCKEYES BUZZ: Sometimes even kids forget to be kids.
QB Braxton Miller said after Saturday's 34-24 win over Iowa that he tried to play with joy and reckless abandonment instead of worrying about everything. The result was one of his best games ever: 22 of 27 passes for 222 yards and 2 TDs with no interceptions and 18 rushes for 102 net yards.
Miller spoke with friends and family about his mindset.
He said his father told him, "Just like last year, let's have fun. Just make plays, go out there and have fun with your teammates."
He also spoke with his teammates.
"Me and him talked about that during the week. I was just telling him, `Just relax. You can't worry about making mistakes while you're out there. That's the last thing that anybody should be worried about. You can't be nervous. We've been playing this game all of our lives, so there's no reason to be nervous,"' WR Corey Brown said he told Miller. "I told him to just go out there, have fun, don't worry about making mistakes, don't try to be perfect. It doesn't really matter what the critics say, because whether you do good or do bad there's always going to be something wrong."
Another WR, Devin Smith, said he noticed a change in Miller.
"You could tell it was a lot different, especially from watching him play against Northwestern. At Northwestern, he felt like he had to do a little more than what he usually does. The (Iowa) game he just came out relaxed and knew exactly what he had to do, made his reads, made his throws and made plays."
Penn State coach Bill O'Brien believes Miller is better than he's ever been.
"He's obviously a hard-working kid who's throwing the ball very well," O'Brien said. "He's accurate. He's making plays on third down in the passing game. He obviously understands coverage, and he's just doing a really, really good job of running that offense in all facets.
Smith said the change in Miller was evident to everyone.
"He had a smile on his face every time he made a play," he said.
O'Brien said it figures that a talented team would have a talented QB.
"You don't win 19 games in a row or you don't get to 7-0 and No. 4 in the country without being an excellent quarterback," he said. "And that's what he is."
SCARLET, GRAY AND PINK: Pink will be added to the color scheme of the Buckeyes when they play Penn State Saturday at 8 p.m. at Ohio Stadium.
Players will wear pink towels, gloves, wristbands and socks, while coaches and staff will have shirts with pink accents.
All are to promote the Breast Cancer Awareness campaign.
THE PANCAKE MAN: Former Buckeye and NFL star Orlando Pace will be honored at Saturday's game.
Pace, voted into the College Football Hall of Fame, starred with the Buckeyes from 1994-96. He was known as the "Pancake Man" for flattening his opponents with his exceptional blocking techniques. Pace finished fourth in the 1996 Heisman balloting, the highest finish for a lineman since 1980.
"Orlando Pace is not only the best offensive lineman I have ever coached, but he is the best I have ever seen," said former Ohio State coach John Cooper, also a College Football Hall of Fame inductee. "Every game was a highlight reel for him. We ran a lot of counter sweeps and a lot of screens, and on many of those plays Orlando had to be out in front of the ball carrier. And we had some pretty good ball carriers. I don't know how you could play the position any better than he did. He was just a fantastic football player."
Pace was a two-time All-American, won the Lombardi Trophy in consecutive years and won the 1996 Outland Trophy. He did not allow a sack in his final two seasons and blocked for Hall of Fame and 1995 Heisman Trophy-winning running back Eddie George.
Chosen with the first overall pick by the St. Louis Rams in the 1997 NFL Draft, Pace enjoyed a decorated 13 seasons in the league, culminating with the Rams' Super Bowl championship in 1999. Pace was named All-Pro five times, and he earned seven Pro Bowl selections.
Pace becomes the 24th Ohio State player to be inducted, joining Warren Amling (1944-46), Hopalong Cassady (1952-55), Jim Daniell (1939-41), Bob Ferguson (1959-61), Wes Fesler (1928-30), Eddie George (1992-95), Randy Gradishar (1971-73), Archie Griffin (1972-75), Chic Harley (1916-17, 1919), John Hicks (1970, 1972-73), Les Horvath (1940-42, 1944), Jim Houston (19557-59), Vic Janowicz (1949-51), Gomer Jones (1933-35), Rex Kern (1968-70), Jim Parker (1954-56), Chris Spielman (1984-87), Jim Stillwagon (1968-70), Gaylord Stinchcomb (1917, 1919-20), Jack Tatum (1968-70), Aurealius Thomas (1955-57), Bill Willis (1942-44) and Gust Zarnas (1935-37).
Six coaches with stops in Columbus are in the hall: Earle Bruce (1979-87),
John Cooper (1988-00), Woody Hayes (1951-78), Howard Jones (1910), Francis Schmidt (1934-40) and John Wilce (1913-28).
DEALING WITH TEs: The Buckeyes have struggled covering tight ends, particularly Iowa's three-TE set last week.
Ohio State's coaches and players said they did not adapt quickly enough to that scheme. And it nearly cost dearly.
"It was a bad deal," coach Urban Meyer said.
When Penn State and Ohio State last met, the Buckeyes won 35-23 but graduated QB Matt McGloin's two TD passes were both to TEs. Kyle Carter, on this year's Mackey Award list presented to the nation's top TE, caught one of those, and he's back. Jesse James, who is 6-foot-7, and freshman Adam Breneman have also started for the Lions.
"They're very good players, they're big, they make matchup problems for us," Meyer said. "I know that they like to utilize them. If it's not concern No. 1, it's either 1a or 1b."
DATE CHANGE IN '14: Ohio State will host Atlantic Coast Conference power Virginia Tech on Sept. 6 next year instead of Sept. 20, as was originally scheduled.
The change was made to accommodate ESPN.
Sept. 6 was initially an off week for the Buckeyes after the season-opener against Navy at Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium. The first off week of the 2014 season will now move to Sept. 20.
The remainder of the schedule: Sept. 13, Kent State; Sept. 20, bye; Sept. 27, Cincinnati; Oct. 4, at Maryland; Oct. 11, bye; Oct. 18, Rutgers; Oct. 25, at Penn State; Nov. 1, Illinois; Nov. 8, at Michigan State; Nov. 15, at Minnesota; Nov. 22, Indiana; Nov. 29, Michigan.
STILL SOLID: Despite the Sandusky scandal that rocked the Penn State program and brought about the fall of legendary coach Joe Paterno, Penn State has still retained its dignity and a high standard of play in the aftermath.
"They're never going to fall off (a cliff). They've got good athletes just like everybody else," Ohio State WR Corey Brown said. "It's still a big school, it's still Penn State at the end of the day. I never thought that they would fall off."
Brown is a native of the Philadelphia area but said it doesn't mean a whole lot more to him to be playing perhaps the most dominant college program in Pennsylvania.
"It's not really a game I mark on my calendar, but it's always fun to beat my state team," he said. "I don't want to go home and hear people's mouths if we were to lose to them. I don't really have time to hear what people have to say."