Penn State Drubbed 38-10 By No. 1 Ohio State
Penn State traveled to Columbus, Ohio, last Saturday to face No. 1 Ohio State for the Buckeyes’ first blackout at the Horseshoe.
With Penn State (5-2, 2-1 Big Ten) finding its stride following the Temple game in week one and Ohio State fading a bit, allowing Maryland to stick around late in its previous conference matchup; optimists saw this primetime matchup as a potential grudge match.
That was not the case at all as Ohio State (7-0, 3-0 Big Ten) went on to win comfortably 38-10 in front of its home crowd.
While Penn State’s defense prepared well for starting quarterback Cardale Jones, they did not seem to have an answer for backup quarterback and red-zone specialist J.T. Barrett.
Cardale Jones only threw for 84 yards on the night, but Barrett picked apart a stout Nittany Lion run defense, accumulating 102 yards on 11 carries for two scores, making a strong case for the starting job.
Despite a convincing victory, Penn State looked like it had all the answers against the Ohio State defense in the first quarter.
The Nittany Lions started their first drive off in style as running back Akeel Lynch, back from a knee injury that sidelined him for the past few weeks, broke out an 11-yard run.
Penn State then took a shot down field as quarterback Christian Hackenberg found deep threat wide receiver Chris Godwin for a 45-yard strike to put the Lions in Buckeye territory. Although they were able to make it into the red-zone, Penn State was forced to kick a field goal as Joey Julius hit a 33-yarder to go up 3-0.
In Ohio State’s third drive, they went three-and-out and were forced to punt again. Penn State opted to put freshman phenom Saquon Barkley in the backfield after he had missed time due to a leg injury of his own.
After a string of runs put together by Barkley, Penn State set up shop on Ohio State’s side of the field once again. On a second and one at the 44 yard line, Mike Gesicki dropped a pass from Hackenberg that would have put the Nittany Lions in a great position heading into the end of the first quarter.
On the very next play, Barkley seemed to have a 44-yard touchdown run to put Penn State up 10, but it was called back on a holding penalty by offensive lineman Brian Gaia.
The drive resulted in a punt shortly after as the Nittany Lions seemed to shoot themselves in the foot one too many times.
Ohio State came back surging to start the second quarter as big runs by Braxton Miller, Ezekiel Elliott and J.T. Barrett were too much for Penn State defensively. Barrett directed the offense to the end zone capping off the drive with a five-yard touchdown run to give Ohio State its first lead of the game at 7-3.
Penn State went three-and-out on the next drive and a short punt by Chris Gulla gave the Buckeyes the ball at the Penn State 45-yard line.
“We’ve had major issues with punting the ball … if we need to have open tryouts, we need to find a way to solve that problem,” Penn State head coach James Franklin said of the punting situation.
It only took Ohio State five plays to find the end zone again; this time it was Elliot scoring on a 10-yard run. After kicker Jack Willoughby was able to convert the PAT yet again, Ohio State went up 14-3.
With Barkley finding holes in the Ohio State defense, it finally appeared as though Penn State found its niche and was putting together an impressive drive. Unfortunately for the Lions, a first down snap that hit wide receiver Brandon Polk while he was in motion on a jet sweep seemingly killed the drive as the Lions were forced to punt again soon after.
Ohio State continued its impressive second quarter of rushing with a 66-yard drive ending in a 13-yard touchdown run by Barrett to put the Buckeyes up 21-3. That score carried into halftime and Penn State was down 17 at the half for the second time in two seasons.
Unlike last year where the Lions scored 17 unanswered points in the second half to force the game into two overtimes against the Buckeyes, they could not pick up the pieces quickly enough in the second half of this game.
The second half started out much like the first as Penn State drove down the field in three plays for touchdown pass to wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton after a 56-yard completion to Godwin and a 14-yard run by Barkley pitted the Lions at the Ohio State five yard line. With the score, Penn State shortened Ohio State’s lead to 21-10.
After trading punts back and forth, Ohio State was able to kick a field goal right at the start of the fourth quarter to go up 24-10.
On the very next drive, Ohio State was able to get it done through the air as Barrett capped off an 85-yard drive with a five-yard strike to Miller in the end zone to go up 31-10.
With their backs against the wall, the Nittany Lions were looking for a quick score with six minutes to play in the game but Hackenberg fumbled the ball on first down at the Penn State 22 yard line.
Ohio State capped off the game with a six-yard touchdown pass from Barrett to Michael Thomas as the Buckeyes ran down the clock on their final drive to win their seventh game of the season. The Lions moved to 5-2 on the season.
The storyline for Penn State was Barkley who accounted for 194 yards on 26 carries in his first game back from injury.
“He’s a make it right guy,” said offensive lineman Andrew Nelson. “May not get everything blocked exactly correctly but he can make it right and make people miss.”
Hackenberg finished with seven completions for 120 yards and a touchdown.
“We need to tie everything together and go out and finalize and finish when we need to,” Hackenberg said, reflecting on the game.
Chris Godwin had three catches for 103 yards.
Ohio State as a team finished with 315 yards on the ground. Elliot accounted for 153 of those yards and one score. Barrett threw two touchdowns and ran in another two for the Buckeyes.
Penn State will travel to Maryland next week to take on the Terps who are 2-4 so far this season.
Kickoff for the game is scheduled for 3:30. Be sure to tune into ComRadio’s coverage next Saturday.
Mike D’Avella is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him email firstname.lastname@example.org