It wasn’t pretty, but No. 3 Ohio State found a way to get the job done and stay undefeated with a 20-12 win over No. 7 Penn State.
Ohio State’s defense completely stifled Penn State’s overwhelming offense, keeping the Nittany Lions out of the end zone until the final minute while limiting them to just 240 yards and 1-for-16 on third downs. And that only Penn State third-down conversion came with 45 seconds left in regulation. That’s how bad things were for the PSU offense.
The Buckeyes’ offense wasn’t exactly overwhelming either, but Kyle McCord was able to find Marvin Harrison Jr. enough to move the ball and ultimately put Penn State away. With the win, Ohio State improved to 7-0 with a trip to Michigan still ahead. Penn State, meanwhile, lost 6-1, another loss on a big stage for the Nittany Lions under coach James Franklin.
Penn State entered the day with the No. 1 defense in the country statistically. But PSU simply couldn’t contain Harrison, who was the best player on the field. While tight end Cade Stover threw four balls for 70 yards, Harrison managed eleven balls for 162 yards and a touchdown.
With Emeka Egbuka sidelined, Harrison was targeted on 16 of McCord’s 35 pass attempts. And Harrison’s presence was felt in one of the game’s biggest scenes, in which he didn’t even touch the ball.
Midway through the second quarter, with the game tied 3-3, Penn State’s defense appeared to make a huge play when linebacker Curtis Jacobs took a hit on McCord and knocked the ball loose. The ball then bounced directly to Jacobs, who started to throw the ball and scored.
Except there was a flag on the piece. Penn State’s Kalen King was cited for holding Harrison. Instead of a defensive touchdown that gave Penn State a 10-3 lead, the penalty gave Ohio State an automatic first down at the PSU 16. A few plays later, Miyan Williams plunged in from two yards out to put the Buckeyes up 10-3 in the lead.
It was a 14-point swing. And that conversion defensive touchdown was as close as Penn State could get to the end zone until the final minute of the fourth quarter.
The Nittany Lions made several field goals in the first half and only trailed 10-6 at halftime. In the second half, Penn State just couldn’t get anything going – even when the Buckeyes gave them great field position.
It was still 10-6 late in the third quarter when Penn State’s defense stuffed Ohio State on a fourth-down play near the goal line.
On the ensuing drive, Penn State promptly hit a three-pointer and punched back to the Buckeyes. The punt was deflected by an Ohio State player and Penn State recovered at its own 48.
It was a great opportunity for the Nittany Lions to potentially take the lead. Instead, the drive didn’t gain a single yard and Penn State punched it back to the Buckeyes.
Drew Allar, Penn State’s prized sophomore quarterback, struggled mightily in the first big road start of his career. He completed just 18 of his 42 attempts for 191 yards. It was absolutely ugly.
After the PSU defense was gassed, Ohio State extended its lead with a field goal and a touchdown in the fourth quarter. When Penn State got the ball back down 20-6 with 2:41 left, the Nittany Lions had a total of six yards of offense in the second half.
PSU would eventually reach the end zone with a 73-yard drive in garbage time. But it was far too late.