Penn State gets a drive and a 30-yard Matt Bahr field goal out of the first turnover, and nurses the 3-0 lead through the half. Gerald, who replaces Schlichter at quarterback on some series and is a split end on others, fumbles the ball away after one 46-yard completion to the Penn State 20. Then Schlichter is hit and loses one himself at the 41. Petruccio intercepts still another hurried throw at the Nittany Lion 32. But Penn State's offense is not able to convert these gifts into a single point.
At halftime Paterno's staff works quickly but with remarkable calm. Offensive and defensive squads get separate, short, incisive blackboard critiques. Gradually, Paterno allows the enthusiasm to rebuild.
When it is time to go back out, he says, "It's all yours now. All you have to do is finish the job. We're not going to sit on any three-point lead. We're going to play this baby like we were behind, like we are desperate.
"Before the game I told you I thought we were better. Now we know it. Right?"
The second time they get the ball in the third quarter, the Nittany Lions drive 80 yards to the game's only touchdown, and it is no less than a finishing blow. The march consumes 13 plays—only one a pass—and almost six minutes, and is a bruising, painstaking work of art that establishes the superiority of the Penn State line and its running backs.
Suhey is the cutting edge. He gets 43 of the 80 in eight carries, including the last one for three yards into the end zone, sliding outside off a cluster of minglers and diving in from the two. After that, Bahr kicks three more field goals, giving the sweeper for the Tulsa Roughnecks of the North American Soccer League eight in two games and nine of 11 for the year. Clark and Millen and Mehl and the others finish off the first shutout of the Buckeyes in an opening game in 76 years and only the 14th in Hayes' 27-year career at Columbus.
In the Penn State dressing room, Paterno climbs to a bench and spreads his arms and smiles broadly as his players shout, "We're No. 1!" He tells them it was a great job, but "only the first of a lot more. We're going to get better. So keep your feet on the ground."
At 8 p.m., when their feet get back on the ground, the Nittany Lions are met by 5,000 fans. The fans have waited two hours for the chance to tell them once more that they are No. 1.
Well, O.K. If you insist.