(Image courtesy of teddyfeed.com, game information courtesy ohiostatebuckeyes.com, cleveland.com, espn.com, cfbstats.com)
To start, I want to compliment Penn State for a tenacious, spirited game. I expected nothing less from them.
The Buckeyes owe this win to the defense. After coming out of the gates fast by scoring on their initial possession, the Buckeyes “turtled” on offense with what I thought were some very conservative play calls in the second half.
But, a conference win over a very good team to wrap up a division championship is always pretty, no matter the aesthetics of play.
The Buckeyes ran a fairly uptempo offense with their 83 plays from scrimmage, their second highest total of the season. Their 417 yards in total offense were their season low, so their YPP of 5.02 (still not bad) was a season low.
The first half was sound, aggressive football by OSU’s offense, aside from Justin Fields’ goal line fumble. In their five first-half drives, they had 250 yards and two TDs. Fields’ fumble erased a third TD. The Buckeyes opened the third period with a a crisp opening second half drive (10 plays, 75 yards) to open a 21-0 lead. However, Ohio State’s next three possessions were fumble, fumble, punt resulting in 10 PSU points. The Buckeyes lost the balance of the 3rd period to let the Nittany Lions back into the game.
A 28 yard Chris Olave circus catch in the endzone gave Ohio State the breathing room (two score lead) they needed with just over 13 minutes remaining in the game.
The defense was good the entire game and really good when the Ohio State team needed them to be. Throughout the game, the Nittany Lions were held to a season lows in points (17), total yards (227) and yards-per-play (3.49).
After an early 3rd period injury to starting QB Sean Clifford, backup Will Levis entered the game. He changed the entire tone of the game. Will lead all three PSU scoring drives. Granted, after the OSU turnovers, he had some very short fields (12 yards, 11 yards) but still, he put them on the board. His 34 yards rushing were second on the team and he converted 6-11 passes for 57 yards. However, due to the “catch-up” situation he was put in, he was sacked four times for 24 yards, all late in the game.
This was a game where Ohio State’s play-makers were making plays. Pete Werner had a helluva game with a team leading 10 tackles. He also had 2 pass break-ups. Chase Young had 9 tackles, 4 TFLs which included 3 sacks and 1 forced fumble. Malik Harrison had 9 tackles (2 TFL), Baron Browning had 7 tackles (2.5 TFL, 1.5 sack) and Tuf Borland 7 tackles.
A spirited 4th quarter defense saved the day, and the game, and the season, for the Buckeyes. In the final quarter +, the Penn State offense was completely shut down.
Buffalonian Blake Haubeil & Co had a relatively slow day. He was 4-4 on extra points and had no FG attempts.
Drue Chrisman had a god day by averaging 41 yards on 3 punts. He dropped two of them inside the 20 yard line, but hurt his net average with a touch back on a third punt.
Another tense OSU-PSU game eventually came to a satisfactory end with a double-digit win for the Buckeyes. The win locks up the B1G East prior to The Game. Not to look ahead, but Ohio State will play the winner of next week’s Minnesota-Wisconsin game for the Big Ten Championship.
Below is a table of quarter-by-quarter activity for both teams.
This table summarizes the game fairly well. Total dominance in every quarter. This game was a, to date, season record on both sides of the ball. Ohio State set season “best” in the following offensive categories
The Buckeyes travel to The Big House for Saturday’s The Game against the Wolverines (9-2, 6-2). Although their record is same as PSU’s, the Nits hold head-to-head advantage over UM. Kickoff is scheduled for 12:00 pm ET. You’ll be able to watch it on FOX or TuneIn. Or both.