Sometimes it is the little things that add up that ultimately determines the outcome of the game. A few random thoughts on decisions made/not made that had a hand in the loss today.
* With Penn State in the red zone in the first quarter, and the play clock running down, the team was called for delay of game to push a manageable 3rd and 3 back to 3rd and 8, ultimately leading to a FG. I frequently see head coaches running up to the official to get a timeout to avoid a penalty in that spot. Getting FGs vs TDs in the red zone was what decided this game and I feel (and felt at the time) they should have used a timeout there to preserve a better position to score a TD. That decision could have resulted in four more points for PSU. Instead, PSU *saved* that timeout and used it in advance of a Minnesota punt at the start of the 2nd quarter.
* I'm completely frustrated with all of the running plays that they called in the red zone. Not only were they not succesful, I would love to have all that time wasted from those plays - it could probably be another possession's worth of time. It seemed like the throws to the TEs were having success, would have liked to see that more often, especially on FIRST downs...including on the first and goal at the end of the game. And, please no more fade patterns to KJ in the end zone.
* I think the 2 Point Conversion call after the TD to make it 24-19 in the third quarter was unnecessary and completely impacted the remainder of the game. There wasn't any reason to expect that Minnesota wasn't going to score the rest of the game to worry about making it a 3 point game at that point. What happened from that point on was that after Minnesota made it 31-19, PSU's decisions were impacted by that missed point. If it were instead 31-20 when PSU was in the red zone in the mid 4th quarter, they likely would have kicked a FG to make it a one score game at 31-23 (instead of going for it on fourth down). Then the subsequent TD would have either made it 31-29 or tied at 31...meaning if they were still behind it would have only been by a max of two points at the end of the game. Yes, there were plenty of other plays that impacted the loss, but this was simply a bad decision.
I don't think this game can be viewed as anything but a huge disappointment, you just don't get many opportunities like this at an undefeated season. I've read a lot of comments online saying that this loss doesn't change anything in terms of Penn State's path, etc, but unfortunately I think that is people trying to make themselves feel better. Penn State had a legitimate shot at the playoff even with a loss to OSU, especially due to what is happening to Alabama as I'm currently typing vs LSU. Plus the consolation of missing out of the playoff and going to the Rose Bowl is pretty much gone....Minnesota hasn't been there in a very long time so if they can get them to Pasadena that is a no-brainer choice.