Tressel still unhappy with Ohio State’s offensive production

Published 4:04 am Wednesday, October 29, 2008

This figures to be a week of learning for No. 13 Ohio State.

No, not necessarily in the classroom. Not even in a football game.

Instead, the Buckeyes will have a bye week to do nothing but rehash Saturday night’s 13-6 loss to No. 3 Penn State that put a severe dent in any hopes of winning the Big Ten title or continuing as a national contender.

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‘‘You probably learn less in victory than you learn in defeat,’’ coach Jim Tressel said Tuesday on the Big Ten coaches conference call. ‘‘We’ll learn a lot about ourselves.’’

The Buckeyes (7-2, 4-1) have three games remaining after Saturday’s day away. They play at Northwestern (6-2, 2-2), at Illinois (4-4, 2-3) and at home against archrival Michigan (2-6, 1-3) before heading for a bowl game.

Ohio State will spend most of this week working on fundamentals and analyzing their mistakes before even taking a peek at the teams that lie ahead, though.

Things were pretty much going their way through three quarters against the Nittany Lions. They led 6-3 in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter and had the ball near midfield. Then the game, and a good part of their season, spiraled out of sight.

Freshman quarterback Terrelle Pryor, rather than just keep the ball for the 12 inches or so that were needed on third and less than a yard, decided to bounce outside right end in an attempt to get big yardage. Instead, his ill-advised move resulted in Mark Rubin punching the ball out of his hands, with Penn State’s Navorro Bowman recovering at the Ohio State 38.

Seven plays later, Penn State backup quarterback Pat Devlin did precisely what he was told to do on a sneak and scored from a foot out to give the Nittany Lions a 10-6 lead with 6:25 left.

Tressel said it was clear that Pryor should have just gotten the first down and then headed back to the huddle instead of trying to win the game by himself.

‘‘For sure the best decision would have been to stay focused on really what we needed at the moment,’’ Tressel said. ‘‘What we needed at that moment was a first down, obviously.’’

After Ohio State was forced to punt on its next possession, Devlin led the Lions downfield to set up Kevin Kelly’s 35-yard field goal for a 13-6 lead with 1:07 remaining.