No. 20 Penn State Edged Out By No. 5 Ohio State 33-24
No. 20 Penn State football (5-3, 2-3 Big Ten) was edged out by No. 5 Ohio State (7-1, 5-0 Big Ten) 33-24 Saturday night in Columbus.
The Nittany Lions struck first in the prime-time matchup, but the Buckeyes overcame the slow start and jumped out to a seven-point lead heading into halftime. Penn State put up an admirable fight in the second half, but Ryan Day’s squad was ultimately too much to overcome.
With Saturday’s loss, Ohio State extended its winning streak over Penn State to five games, the longest in the history of the two teams’ rivalry.
How It Happened
Penn State won the toss and deferred its choice to the second half, giving CJ Stroud and Co. the ball to start the game.
Despite picking up a 1st down to start the game, disaster quickly struck for the Buckeyes. On 3rd down, Ji’Ayir Brown ripped the ball out of Jeremy Ruckert’s hands, and Brown recovered to set the Nittany Lions up with great field position.
However, on the very first play of Penn State’s drive, Noah Cain fumbled, and Ohio State recovered at its own 47-yard line. The Nittany Lions held strong, and the Buckeyes punted it down to Penn State’s 11-yard line.
The Nittany Lions got the ball moving with back-to-back first downs on the ground, one from Sean Clifford and the other from John Lovett. Then, a few players later, Clifford connected with KeAndre Lambert-Smith for a 16-yard gain to move the chains once more.
Two plays after a 32-yard gain to Parker Washington, Clifford found Brenton Strange for a five-yard touchdown to put Penn State ahead 7-0 with 6:08 left in the first quarter.
Ohio State quickly made its way down the field, as it was assisted by a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty on Joey Porter Jr.
Penn State held the Buckeyes to a 35-yard field goal attempt, which Noah Ruggles drilled to make it a 7-3 game with 2:02 left in the quarter.
After a Jordan Stout punt, the Buckeyes took over and faced a 3rd down as the first quarter ended. Stroud found Garrett Wilson for a 15-yard gain on 3rd and 12 to keep the drive alive. Daequan Hardy appeared to have forced a fumble a few plays later, but after further review, Miyan Williams was deemed to be down, and Ohio State retained possession.
Still, the Nittany Lions’ defense continued its impressive start and stuffed the Buckeyes on 3rd and 2 to forced another punt.
Penn State’s next drive featured a lot of Washington, as the sophomore hauled in three catches within the first five plays. On 4th and 5 from Ohio State’s 43-yard line, Penn State went for it and didn’t convert, giving the ball back to the Buckeyes with great field position.
Again, Penn State’s defense came up with big stop to force another Ohio State punt.
Following a Penn State punt, Ohio State’s offense finally got it going. On the fifth play of the drive, Stroud connected with Chris Olave for a 38-yard touchdown to put Ohio State ahead 10-7 with 3:48 left in the half.
Penn State came out firing on the ensuing drive with back-to-back first downs courtesy of Theo Johnson. However, the success was short-lived, as Clifford was strip sacked, and big Jerron Cage returned it 57 yards for a touchdown to extend Ohio State’s lead to 17-7 with 2:24 remaining in the half.
The Nittany Lions responded with a nice-looking drive, though, and drove down into Ohio State’s territory with under a minute remaining before halftime. Stout drilled a 47-yard field goal to make it a 17-10 game at halftime.
The second half started with an unnecessary roughness penalty on Ohio State’s Steele Chambers, which was also deemed targeting, meaning Chambers was ejected from the game.
A few plays later, Clifford and Dotson hooked up for a pitch-and-catch of 13 yards to move the chains, and an extra 15 yards was tacked on due to a roughing the passer call. Then, on the 12th play of the drive, Jahan Dotson took the direct snap, bolted toward the pylon, and reached the ball over for a touchdown to tie the game up at 17 with 10:26 left in the third quarter.
Ohio State started its drive with a 58-yard gain from Jaxon Smith-Njigba to set the Buckeyes up at Penn State’s 17-yard line. Later in the drive, Ohio State faced a 4th and 1 from Penn State’s one-yard line. However, the Buckeyes were called for a false start and opted for a field goal instead. Ruggles drilled it put Ohio State back up 20-17 with 6:42 left in the quarter.
After a Penn State punt, Ohio State immediately tacked on another score. TreVeyon Henderson, who was held in check the entire first half, broke off a 68-yard run to move the ball inside Penn State’s five-yard line. Two plays later, Henderson punched it in to put Ohio State up 27-17 with 3:35 left in the quarter.
The Nittany Lions didn’t go away and moved the ball into Ohio State’s territory after long plays to Lambert-Smith and Dotson. Later in the drive, Keyvone Lee ran it in from a yard out to cut Ohio State’s lead to 27-24 at the end of the third quarter.
Unfortunately for Penn State, Ohio State’s offense kept clicking on the ensuing drive, as Stroud found multiple open receivers to move down inside Penn State’s 20-yard line. However, on possibly the biggest play of the game to this point, the Buckeyes came up empty on 4th and 3, and Penn State took over with 12:51 left in the game.
Penn State couldn’t build off the big stop, as Clifford under threw Dotson and was intercepted by Cam Brown, who returned it to Penn State’s 28-yard line. Once again, though, Penn State’s defense came up with a timely stop and held Ohio State to just three points. The Buckeyes took a 30-24 lead with 7:12 left in the game.
The Nittany Lions went three and out, and Ohio State started its next drive at its own 22-yard line. The Buckeyes were able to get another three points to make it a two-possession game and extend their lead to 33-24.
That’s the way it would stay for the rest of the game, and Penn State dropped its third straight game.
- What a difference a week makes, folks. Penn State may have lost, but it played a tough, hard-fought game. Not only did Sean Clifford look more comfortable than last week, but Penn State looked like a completely different football team. It’s hard to believe this was the same team that lost to unranked Illinois at home.
- Turnovers and big plays really hurt the Nittany Lions in this one. Not only did Ohio State score one of its touchdowns on a Sean Clifford strip sack, but it also had four plays of 30+ yards. Those big plays gave Ohio State much-needed momentum in a game full of momentum swings.
- Once again, Penn State just couldn’t run the ball. The Nittany Lions ran the ball 29 times for just 33 yards, which is good for just an abysmal 1.1 yards per carry. Clifford played a solid game Saturday, but he was forced to throw the ball over 50 times, which just isn’t the recipe for success against a tough team like Ohio State.
Penn State heads to College Park next Saturday to take on Maryland. The time and channel for the game are currently unknown.
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About the Author
Despite losing key contributors at wide receiver and on the offensive line, the combination of young talent and proven transfers should benefit Penn State’s attack this fall.
Applications to join our staff are due by 5 p.m. on Friday, September 2.
This marks the first time the Nittany Lions are left out of the preseason poll since 2016.