Nittany Lions Show Fight, Come Up Short Against The Buckeyes
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Under normal circumstances, the Ohio State Buckeyes would have had to travel into a sea of white in Happy Valley and likely wouldn’t have come out rolling due to the deafening avalanche of sound of the Beaver Stadium 'White Out' crowd.
Instead, in 2020 where normality is foreign, the Buckeyes came out composed and firing. On the first play of the game, wide receiver Garrett Wilson took the end around handoff and exploded for 62 yards and the Buckeyes immediately found themselves in the red zone.
Master Teague III would eventually punch in the touchdown two plays later, and from there the Buckeyes would never look back.
No. 3 Ohio State was able to hold off No. 18 Penn State’s resilient effort and get the win in this highly anticipated matchup on Halloween night, 38-25.
In the first half, Penn State simply looked outmatched. Ohio State was dominating the Nittany Lions on both fronts, quarterback Justin Fields was showing off his elite abilities and the Buckeyes offense was carving up Penn State's defense effortlessly. As for the Penn State offense, it couldn’t get anything going the as the play-calling seemed questionable.
“I feel like we just didn’t get out to [a fast enough start],” linebacker Ellis Brooks said.
“I feel like we just have to start faster, come out and play with the intensity that we had in the second half in the first half,” Brooks said.
As for Ohio State, they were firing on all cylinders from the get-go. Fields continued his Heisman Trophy pursuit by completing 28 of 34 pass attempts for 318 yards and four touchdowns.
Fields was the standout performer as expected, but it was a team effort from the Buckeyes. The offense finished with 526 yards as a whole unit and was also stellar on third down, converting 10 of 18 opportunities.
“Defensively, we really couldn't get them off schedule. They were in manageable down and distance situations pretty much the entire game. And with a quarterback like that and their offensive personnel, not getting them off schedule is going to make things challenging,” head coach James Franklin said.
In addition to the Buckeyes' success in the air, they also found massive success on the ground. Ohio State rushed for 208 yards as a team, compared to only 44 for Penn State. Franklin had high praise for Fields and the entire Ohio State offense.
“[Fields] is talented. [So are] all of the pieces around him. I think we got a pretty good pass rush, but we weren't able to get to him a whole lot tonight. They protected him," Franklin said. “They're very talented on the perimeter of the wide receiver positions as well.”
Garrett Wilson led the Buckeyes reeling in 11 catches for 111 yards. Although, Chris Olave’s seven catches for 120 yards and two touchdowns were perhaps more significant and impressive.
In the first quarter, Fields lofted a deep ball to the pylon on the right sideline to connect with Olave, and once again in the fourth quarter, Fields dropped in another dime to Olave who made a marvelous fingertip grab near the pylon on the opposite side.
Penn State’s own quarterback and wide receiver duo had the Nittany Lions fighting with a chance and a glimmer of hope down to the very end. Quarterback Sean Clifford and wide receiver Jahan Dotson connected on three touchdowns in the second half, but it ultimately wasn’t enough.
The brightest spot in this game for the Nittany Lions was undoubtedly the emergence of Dotson. The junior was having a solid day until he exploded onto the scene for back-to-back spectacular contested catches late in the fourth quarter.
“I approach that [jump ball] like a million dollars in the air,” Dotson said. “Every time the ball is in the air, it’s a chance to make a name for yourself, a chance to put the team on your back.”
Dotson finished the game with 144 yards and three touchdowns, following a 94 yard and one touchdown performance last week versus Indiana.
Penn State came close, but the Buckeyes had all the answers for what the Nittany Lions were throwing at them. Penn State falls to Ohio State for the third straight year, sit at 0-2 on the season for the first time since 2012 and the Nittany Lions’ once promising College Football Playoff hopes look to be severely jeopardized.
The Nittany Lions will host Taulia Tagovailoa and the Maryland Terrapins next Saturday and will be seeking to begin to turn things around and secure their first victory of the season.
Zach Donaldson is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.