Former Ohio State star lineman Orlando Pace may be happily retired, but his trip back to a sold-out Ohio Stadium on Saturday night gave him a yearning to return to his playing days.
“I was walking to the stadium, and I felt like I did — I hate to say this — almost 20 years ago … The fans, the electric (atmosphere), everything that goes along with it,” he said. “I think I could go out there and give them a series or two.”
Pace was recognized in the first half of the Penn State game for his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame this year. And while the former offensive tackle didn’t pancake any defenders for the Buckeyes, he did give the program $250,000 to refurbish the recruiting room.
“Recruiting is such a big competition, and I wanted to do my part and give back. … Once those recruits walk in that room, they’ll see Ohio State is the place to be,” he said.
The former NFL No. 1 pick was impressed with the OSU offensive line, which helped quarterback Braxton Miller and his cohorts gain 686 total yards in a 63-14 win.
“They do a great job of protecting Braxton, and they run the ball well,” he said. “They don’t get talked about a lot, but those five guys up front play really well as a unit.”
He added about left tackle Jack Mewhort: “You’re definitely going to see him playing on Sundays.”
Pace is considered by some to be the greatest Buckeye of all time. He was a two-time Lombardi award-winner and finished fourth in the Heisman balloting one year, a rare feat for a lineman.
He made seven Pro Bowl appearances while playing 12 years with the St. Louis Rams and one with the Chicago Bears.
“I wanted to be the best. I didn’t just want to block a guy, I wanted to destroy him,” he said “I just wanted to be the best at my position so people could talk about it for years to come.
“Everybody asks me, ‘Who’s the best athlete you ever coached?’ I don’t know. I can’t answer that,” former OSU coach John Cooper said. “But the best football player John Cooper ever coached was Orlando Pace, no question.”
Back in action: Cornerback Bradley Roby had two pass break-ups and five tackles one week after being ejected for a targeting violation.
It was a controversial call since Roby appeared to lead with his shoulder and didn’t make direct contact in the neck or head area.
“It was very tough — especially after I watched the replay. I definitely think there was nothing wrong with that hit. If that’s a penalty, I just don’t know how to play football,” he said.
“But that’s in the past. It happened. I’m over it and moving on.”
He was matched up some with Allen Robinson, the Big Ten’s leading receiver who finished with 11 catches for 167 yards. Robinson had a 65-yard TD in the fourth quarter against OSU’s second string.
“I got beat a few times, but that’s the life of a cornerback. I see (NFL star Darrelle) Revis get beat all the time,” Roby said.
No let up: With the Buckeyes leading 56-7 late in the third quarter, OSU coach Urban Meyer challenged a first-down call, arguing the refs spotted the ball too far forward on a fourth-down reception by Robinson.
After a review, the call was reversed, and the Buckeyes took over.
Meyer was just looking for a confidence-builder for his defense, but that move probably wasn’t appreciated on the Penn State sideline.
Guiton sighting: Fan favorite Kenny Guiton took the field with about four minutes left in the third quarter and scored on a short TD run. Braxton Miller lined up at wide receiver with Guiton in shotgun formation.
The fifth-year senior also scored in the fourth quarter on an 11-yard run, making it 63-7.