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Putting Ohio State’s Dominance Of Penn State In Perspective

Penn State football has become accustomed to blowing leads to Ohio State in recent years, but the most recent incident felt especially egregious.

The Nittany Lions led the Buckeyes with just 9:26 left to play in the game. At the time, this felt like a one-way ticket to at least a close finish, if not a Penn State victory. But, less than seven minutes later, James Franklin’s crew trailed by a shocking 20 points.

As StateCollege.com reporter Mike Poorman pointed out, Franklin is accustomed to leading the Buckeyes.

Franklin’s teams have led Ohio State in seven of their last nine matchups but have come away with just one win. Three of those losses came after Penn State led in the fourth quarter. Two of those were two-possession games.

With the exception of 2016, the Nittany Lions have struggled to land a final Buckeye blow. This year’s blown lead, which featured 14 Ohio State points in 34 seconds of play, feels especially heartbreaking given how quickly the positive vibes evaporated.

But, upon further examination, it’s hardly the worst of the bunch. Even debating which blown lead is the worst of them all is never a good sign.

The 2017 game felt like it was in the bag. Penn State led by 11 points with less than six minutes on the clock. ESPN gave it a 97.3% chance to win the game at that point. But, both sides of the ball collapsed as JT Barrett ran two consecutive five-play touchdown drives.

The 2018 matchup, which was the last time before Saturday these two teams played in front of a Beaver Stadium crowd, felt like it was over, too. ESPN said Penn State had a 96.1% chance of winning when Miles Sanders put it up by 12 points with an even 8:00 on the clock. Defensive and offensive errors alike were made, and the Nittany Lions collapsed.

In 2022, Penn State was given a 68.3% chance to win the game after a bold and impressive drive ended with Kaytron Allen bulldozing his way across the goal line. After that, it’s hard to put your finger on what went wrong other than “everything.”

Ohio State has now built a six-year winning streak over Penn State, which is the longest that either team’s had since they first played in 1912. The margins aren’t getting thinner, either. After one-point losses in 2017 and 2018, Penn State found itself down by two scores at the final whistle in every game since.

Saturday’s 13-point loss was tied for the largest margin of defeat since Penn State last won the matchup in 2016. Again, the Nittany Lions were winning the game with 9:26 left to play.

Sean Clifford, a sixth-year senior and Ohio native, will graduate without once beating the Buckeyes.

“This one’s a heartbreaker,” the quarterback said after the game. “We had every right to win that game and to not walk away with the win is tough.”

Saturday was also the Buckeyes’ first time scoring more than 40 points in Beaver Stadium. And this is four years after James Franklin pounded the table in the stadium’s media room and said that Penn State was done being comfortable as just a “great” team.

The Nittany Lions just haven’t been able to hang with Ohio State in recent years. If you take away 2016’s miraculous blocked field goal, the losing streak would span 12 years.

And Penn State is heading in the wrong direction.

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About the Author

Ryan Parsons

Ryan is a redshirt senior majoring in business and journalism from "Philadelphia" and mostly writes about football nowadays. You can follow him on Twitter @rjparsons9 or say hi via email at [email protected]

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