ADAM CAIRNS/COLUMBUS DISPATCH
Ohio State and Penn State met on Halloween weekend on the gridiron to determine the pecking order of the Big Ten East. It was the 37th meeting between neighboring state colleges, and the Buckeyes came in with the longest win streak in the series history, having won the last five games. The Buckeyes would extend that winning streak to six games following a defensive battle between Top 15 rivals. Ohio State scored 44-plus points for the seventh consecutive game. This tied the Big Ten record set in 1902 by "That Team Up North." Despite some clear problems on both sides of the ball, the Buckeyes are still the only team at the FBS level to have won every game by double digits.
The Buckeyes started the game with the ball, and their first drive went 55 yards, as they drove from their own 25 to the Penn State 20, and Noah Ruggles would drill a 38-yard field goal to put the Buckeyes on the board first. The defense would respond by forcing an interception off of Sean Clifford, as J.T. Tuimoloau would tip the ball up and Zach Harrison would pull it down around the Penn State 40 yard-line. However, Penn State's defense would hold firm and forced a three and out, and Ruggles would attempt a 53-yard field goal that went wide-right.
J.T.T. would come up big on the next Penn State drive, as he once more got his hands on a Sean Clifford pass, and this time he would be the one to come down with it at the Penn State 41. Early on in the game, Penn State struggled through the air and were only able to find mild success on the ground, The Buckeyes could not establish their ground game against the top rush defense they've seen this season. However, their first drive showed they could push the ball downfield through the air on chunk plays, but the short passing game was not as successful in the first quarter for Ohio State.
The third Buckeye drive of the afternoon was led by Marvin Harrison Jr. He collected 30-plus yards on back-to-back catches, setting the Buckeyes up at the four, which allowed Miyan Williams to punch the ball in for the first touchdown of the game. On the next Buckeye drive, Williams re-injured his knee that has kept his injury status week-to-week throughout the season, as well as he also injured his hand on the same play while going to the ground. He was able to walk off the field on his own, and Henderson came in to replace him to start the second quarter. The Buckeyes were forced to punt later in the drive.
Penn State would find the end zone for the first time in the second quarter, as Clifford connected with Parker Washington on a screen and he slipped a tackle and took the ball 51 yards to the house, making it a three point game once again at 10-7. Sean Clifford would find Keandre Lambert-Smith for another Penn State touchdown on their next drive, and they would take the lead halfway through the second quarter.
The Buckeyes would finally get the offense going for the first time in the second quarter, as they would drive down the field into the red zone, but they were held short of the end zone and settled for a field goal from 37-yards out to trim Penn State's lead to one. Following the field goal, Ohio State's defense would finally get a stop after back-to-back touchdown drives to give the Buckeyes the ball back with just a minute to go until halftime.
Ohio State would try and drive the field before halftime. An incompletion and then a sack stalled the Buckeyes chances for late points. They were forced into a third and long, and C.J. Stroud would scramble and wind up short of the first down. However, the Buckeyes went for it on fourth down with 21 seconds left on 4th and 6, where Stroud would find Harrison Jr. for the first down. Ohio State would speed up their tempo and again Stroud would find Harrison Jr. inside the 10. With 6 seconds left and no timeouts for the Buckeyes, Stroud would be sacked in the red zone, and Penn State would take a 14-13 lead into halftime.
After one half in State College, Penn State looked more determined and ready to go for the noon kickoff. Ohio State jumped out to the early lead, and they were determined to establish a run game and ended up giving momentum to Penn State after they struggled to open up holes against the Nittany Lions defense. Ryan Day's play calling on third down was abysmal in the first half, as he was determined to run bubble screen after bubble screen, which looked reminiscent of the failures of Urban Meyers offenses' late in his tenure with Ohio State. The Buckeyes were great against Penn State when stretching them vertically but seemed determined to stretch Penn State horizontally. Marvin Harrison Jr. came up with every ball thrown his way and was the star of the first half alongside J.T. Tuimoloau.
Penn State started the second half with the ball. There was a fumble on the kickoff return, but it was recovered by Penn State. They would drive down to the red zone and went for it on fourth down, but they were unsuccessful, as Tyleik Williams got into the backfield to stop Nick Singleton on the ground. The Buckeyes got one first down after the turnover on downs, but a third and long throw from Stroud went too deep on a ball intended for Harrison Jr.
Late in the third quarter, the Buckeyes were able to get a drive going once more. They drove down to the 26 of Penn State before being met with a third and medium. Henderson would run the ball for about five yards and ended short of the first down. Day then sent Ruggles out for a 40-yard field goal that he drilled to put Ohio State back in front 16-14 going into the fourth.
After the field goal drive for Ohio State, Sean Clifford would get sacked on second down by J.T.T, who continued to have a great day for the Buckeyes defense. On third and long, Clifford would look deep and J.K. Johnson was called on pass interference, giving Penn State an automatic first down on 3rd & 16. Washington would then pull in a 26-yard reception over Tanner McCalister, as he continued to have a career down with his 10th catch for 170 yards to that point in the ballgame. The Buckeyes forced a Lions field goal, but two different penalties on Penn State that called off two missed field goals forced James Franklin and co. to go for it, and they were successful. Now inside of the 10 of OSU, Penn State would punch in a touchdown on the ground via a Kaytron Allen 1-yard run. The score was now 21-16 Penn State with under 10 minutes left in the game.
Once more this rivalry game was going to have to come down to an Ohio State comeback if they were going to win. Stroud to this point in the game had yet to throw a touchdown or an interception, and the team only had 37 rushing yards and just one touchdown. Ruggles was 3/4 on field goals and had pretty much been the highlight reel for Ohio State on this afternoon.
On the ensuing drive, Ohio State would have back-to-back first downs through the air and then TreVeyon Henderson would burst through the line for a 41-yard run to make the score 22-21 Buckeyes. The Buckeyes would line-up for the two-point conversion to extend the lead to a field goal game, but Cade Stover was called on a false start, and Ruggles would go out for the PAT, which he nailed to give OSU a lead of 23-21 after a three-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that left nine minutes still on the clock.
On the next drive J.T.T. earned a strip sack and recovered the fumble on the Penn State 24. This was the third turnover of the day for Penn State. The next play, Stroud found Cade Stover over the middle of the field wide open for a 24-yard touchdown reception. Ruggles would make it a nine-point lead for Ohio State. Ohio State had the first touchdown of the game back in the first quarter, then they would be held without one for the next two quarters before the offense would get back-to-back touchdowns in under a minute, with just seven plays being run between the two teams.
Penn State got a big run from Allen out of the backfield that placed the Lions on the Ohio State side of the 50. The Silver Bullets forced a 43-yard field goal attempt with under six to go, and Jake Pinegar drilled it to make the score 30-24.
Stroud found Harrison Jr. for his ninth reception of the day for 170 yards on the next drive, placeing the Buckeyes around midfield. Back-to-back incompletions from Stroud forced a third and long after just a minute had ticked off the board. Stroud found Harrison Jr. again on a slant with a full-on blitz in his face, and they were able to pick up the first down. Stroud would then go deep to Emeka Egbuka for the first time all afternoon, and No. 2 was down inside of the five yard line. Henderson would punch it in for the second time in the fourth quarter, this time from seven yards out to make it 37-24 OSU with under three minutes to go in State College.
On the first play of the next PSU drive, J.T.T would grab Sean Clifford's pass out of thin air for a pick six to make the score 44-24 to put the game away. J.T.T. was in his defensive end spot and saw his opportunity and didn't miss it. Ohio State scored four touchdowns in six minutes in the fourth quarter.
With the defense letting up, Penn State refused to give up and drove down to the Buckeye half of the field with under two minutes to go and found the endzone to hurt the bettors who took Ohio State to cover the spread, as the lead went from 20 down to 13 . The onside kick attempt ended up out of bound,s and the Buckeyes took the football and ran it a handful of times to drain the clock before coming out with the victory of their rivals.
Player of the Game: J.T. Tuimoloau
While Marvin Harrison Jr. had a massive day, this game was won by J.T.T., who finally lived up to his top ranking out of high school. He grabbed two interceptions, one for a pick-six, forced a fumble, grabbed a sack and had a pass deflection that led to an interception. He put in a performance against Penn State that gave me flashbacks to dominant Buckeye defensive ends that led the Buckeyes to victory in the past in this game.
C.J. Stroud: 26/33, 354 yards, 1 TD
TreVeyon Henderson: 16 car, 78 yards, 2 TD
Marvin Harrison Jr.: 10 rec, 185 yards
Cade Stover: 6 rec, 78 yards, 1 TD
Nov. 5th - at Northwestern, 12 p.m., ABC
Nov. 12th - vs Indiana, TBD
Nov. 17th - at Maryland, TBD
Nov. 24th - vs TTUN, 12 p.m., FOX
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