Penn State already had lost the game, but in the closing moments Saturday night it also might have lost one of its best players to injury.
Tight end Kyle Carter caught a TD pass with 1:41 to play in the 35-23 loss to Ohio State. It wasn't apparent to many at the time, but Carter injured his left ankle on the play and had it heavily wrapped walking off the field after the game.
Bill O'Brien said Tuesday that Carter is day-to-day and noted his status for Saturday's game at Purdue won't be known until later this week.
"He seems to be doing OK," O'Brien said on his weekly Big Ten coaches teleconference (his regularly scheduled press conference was pushed back to today because of Hurricane Sandy).
Day-to-day can mean just that, but it should be pointed out that O'Brien consistently said running back Bill Belton was day-to-day with an ankle injury earlier this season, and he missed three games.
Carter is having one of the best seasons ever by a Nittany Lion tight end. The redshirt freshman has 35 catches, just six shy of the PSU record of 41 set by Andrew Quarless in 2009.
As much as O'Brien likes to throw to the tight ends, losing Carter for any length of time could be a big blow to the offense. He has more catches than all the other tight ends combined (27).
This week is a prime letdown possibility for Penn State coming off a loss to the Buckeyes in the biggest game of the year. The old saying in football is that you don't want to let a team beat you twice, and the Lions can't let the disappointment linger.
O'Brien said that hasn't been the case.
"These guys came back to work [Monday], and they were ready to go," the coach said. "We have a great senior class, and they realize that they only have four opportunities left, and it starts here with Purdue. It all starts with that leadership.
"I believe that these guys have put that game behind them, and we all have, and it's time to move on, and we started that process [Monday]."
O'Brien took a lot of the blame for Saturday's loss during his postgame press conference Saturday. He reiterated that message Tuesday but also had more criticism of the team.
"I don't think anyone played the way that they were capable of playing on either side of the ball or on special teams," he said.
He was especially blunt about one area.
"I thought our kickoff return team was terrible," he said.
Belton muffed the second-half kickoff, and though he recovered, it gave the Lions poor field position. Matt McGloin was sacked two plays later, then threw a pick-6 on the next play that gave Ohio State the lead for good.
O'Brien said there will be competition in practice this week to determine who will handle kickoff returns Saturday.
The Lions practiced indoors at Holuba Hall on Monday because of the storm, and O'Brien said another indoors practice was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.
The coach has said in the past that he prefers to practice outdoors so the players will be ready for all playing conditions.
The hot seat
Purdue is 0-4 in the Big Ten, and coach Danny Hope has drawn heavy scrutiny. The school's athletic director, Morgan Burke, felt compelled enough to issue a statement Monday about the football situation, and it wasn't exactly a ringing endorsement for Hope.
"Everyone around our football program has high expectations for the 2012 season," Burke said. "We have worked very hard over the past four years to improve our personnel, facilities and every phase of our program, which is evident. Our student-athletes, alumni, fans, coaching staff and administration all expect to see the program move forward and take a step up the postseason ladder.
"Currently, our performance has kept us from reaching our goals. But we have a third of the season left to play, and our focus is to achieve that consistency over the remaining four games. We need to press forward, converting potential into results and having fun playing Boilermaker football."
Purdue gave Notre Dame one of its toughest challenges this season, losing 20-17 in week two, and nearly upset Ohio State in Columbus before falling in overtime.
Coming off that near-upset, however, the Boilermakers were thumped at Minnesota on Saturday. 44-28.
"Obviously we're very disappointed in our performance this past weekend," Hope said Tuesday.
Purdue's defense has been shredded in the past five games, allowing 41, 44, 38, 29 and 44 points.
"We started the season off playing very well with a lot of confidence," Hope said of his defense, which has suffered some key injuries.
Standout defensive tackle Kawann Short suffered an ankle injury against Minnesota.
"I'm optimistic that he might be available this Saturday, but it's questionable right now," Hope said.
Hope has named Robert Marve his starting quarterback, replacing Caleb TerBush, who was just 5-of-18 for 49 yards against Minnesota. TerBush was just 12-of-25 for 162 yards and two interceptions last year against PSU, while Marve was 2-of-5 for 20 yards with one interception.
Hope has been impressed with Penn State, especially the Lions' front seven on defense, which he compared to Notre Dame's.
"I think Penn State's front seven is every bit as good [as the Irish's]," Hope said.
On McGloin, Hope said, "He plays the position like it's supposed to be played, doesn't make very many mistakes."