Penn State vs. Ohio State: Gameday Grades
Christian Hackenberg played his worst game this season. Two interceptions (one coming on a drive Penn State was threatening to score), on the first three possessions, ultimately ended Penn State’s chances at making a comeback. One can be blamed on the receiver, but the second one is a pass he forced. Tyler Ferguson showed signs of confidence in the second half, leading up to Allen Robinson’s score.
Running back: B
Lost in the shuffle of the loss, was Bill Belton’s 22 rush, 98 yard game. The offense was able to rely on him to make plays when they needed him to. After Robinson, Belton was Penn State’s lone dependable player.
Allen Robinson once again was the star of the show for the offense, one that struggled mightily to move the football. His 12 catches mark a career high on 173 yards total receiving. Brandon Felder was also strong on his four catches, one of which was for a touchdown.
Offensive Line: F
The line gave Hackenberg few opportunities to create plays, and Ohio State’s defensive line was able to plug the gaps very quickly. Penn State’s offense was only able to muster 120 yards on the ground.
Defensive Line: F
The unit’s lack of pressure on Braxton Miller led to the defense giving up 656 yards, their worst total since 1982. Da’Quan Jones’ and Deion Barnes names were rarely called during the game’s broadcast. The Nittany Lions cannot afford to have them struggling.
The entire unit contributed to the defensive struggles. Miller had plenty of time to complete passes and even beat the defense on the ground. Carlos Hyde had his way rushing for 147 yards on 16 carries.
This has been the biggest weakness to Penn State’s defense as a whole. Once again the secondary was burned for three touchdowns, and 278 total yards through the air. Players like Malcolm Willis and Trevor Williams have to take control for the rest of the season heading down the stretch.
This is the worst game of Bill O’Brien’s tenure as head coach. Penn State was coming off the bye week for the second time this season, and much like Indiana, they came out looking like they weren’t prepared. The Lions had no answer for Carlos Hyde and Miller, and the offense was unable to sustain any level of success to keep up.
Ohio Stadium is notoriously one of the toughest places to play in all of college football. Saturday night, it certainly lived up to its billing.
Special Teams: B-
The opportunities were limited for Sam Ficken and the kickoff return unit, most notably Eugene Lewis, but this group was Penn State’s best unit
throughout the game. Kickoff coverage broke down heavily on Dontre Wilson’s 49- yard return following the touchdown by Felder.
Penn State looked underprepared against Indiana, and was even more underprepared (even outmanned) by the Buckeyes coming off their second bye week. The Defense has been the team’s most glaring weakness all season, and it didn’t help to have the offense struggling as much as it did. There aren’t many positives fans can take from this one.
Matt Michelone is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.