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Power Ranking Penn State Football’s Best Moments vs. Ohio State

No. 7 Penn State football has a gargantuan matchup against No. 4-ranked Ohio State in Columbus on Saturday afternoon. Although Ohio State has gotten the best of Penn State for the last handful of matchups, there have been some incredible moments for Penn State throughout the history of these two programs going head-to-head.

Let’s rank the top 10 greatest recent highlights that the Nittany Lions have produced in their battle with the Buckeyes.

10. Ji’Ayir Brown Rips The Ball Out On Opening Drive, 2021

Although former Penn State safety Ji’Ayir Brown missed the initial tackle, he rallied back to the ball and ripped it cleanly out of the arms of tight end Jeremy Ruckert. Forcing a fumble on the first drive of the game was a great tone-setter by Brown and the Penn State defense.

9. Saeed Blacknall’s 24-Yard Touchdown, 2014

The unranked Nittany Lions surprisingly found themselves trading punches into the fourth quarter with a much more talented No. 13 Ohio State team. The crucial third-down strike from quarterback Christian Hackenberg to Saeed Blacknall in the corner of the end zone cut the Buckeye lead down to three. Penn State later kicked a last-minute field goal to bring the game to overtime.

8. Micah Parsons Strips The Ball From J.K. Dobbins, 2019

Star linebacker Micah Parsons knifed his way into the backfield where he met running back J.K. Dobbins, wrapped him up, and then clawed the ball out with his hand.

The ball went tumbling on the ground where it was then recovered by Penn State’s Lamont Wade. Penn State used the momentum from the forced fumble and great field position to punch the ball into the end zone and cut the Ohio State lead down to seven.

7. Parker Washington’s 58-Yard House Call, 2022

Former Penn State wide receiver Parker Washington turned a simple slant route intended to move the chains on 3rd-and-4 into a 58-yard touchdown. Spinning his way out of two tackles, Washington accelerated down the field toward the end zone, providing the spark that the Nittany Lion offense needed to get on the board against the Buckeyes.

6. Back-To-Back Jahan Dotson Highlight Reel Catches, 2020

Down 31-13 with only 14 minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Nittany Lions desperately needed to score if they wanted any hopes of coming back. From his own 42-yard line, quarterback Sean Clifford uncorked a deep ball to Jahan Dotson who went up in the air and snatched the football from a Buckeye defender, successfully coming down in bounds after.

On the very next play, the duo connected again. This time, Dotson miraculously reeled the ball in with one hand and then jogged into the end zone nonchalantly, as if what he did was of the ordinary. Not only that, but Dotson’s play made the SportsCenter Top 10.

5. Chris Godwin Snags Six Points Right Before Halftime, 2016

With 14 seconds left on the clock before halftime, Penn State needed to get on the board. Quarterback Trace McSorley stood strong in the pocket and floated a pass to the right corner of the end zone, where Chris Godwin made an incredible catch to give the Nittany Lions a touchdown when they needed it most.

It was simply brilliant execution that allowed Penn State to later win that game and slay the giant that was No. 2 Ohio State.

4. Juwan Johnson’s Unreal One-Handed Snag, 2018

Even with a Buckeye defender draped all over him, Juwan Johnson went up and made one of the craziest catches anyone has ever made on a football field.

The crowd in Beaver Stadium went absolutely nuts upon witnessing Johnson haul in the 26-yard reception from McSorley. Some people think of Odell Beckham Jr. when talking about one-handed catches, however, we personally think about Juwan Johnson and this sick grab…

3. K.J. Hamler Turns On The Jets For 93-Yard Touchdown, 2018

Backed up at their own seven-yard line dealing with 3rd-and-5, the Nittany Lions desperately needed to convert in order to avoid punting the ball back to the Buckeye offense somewhere around midfield and handing them the momentum.

McSorley took a quick drop and shot a pass right over the middle to flashy freshman, K.J. Hamler, and the rest was history. Hamler took it 93 yards all the way to the crib, leaving four Ohio State defenders in the dust and putting the Nittany Lions up 13-0 on the scoreboard.

2. Saquon Barkley Returns Opening Kickoff 97 Yards To The House, 2017

Arguably one of the most iconic plays in Penn State history, Saquon Barkley housed the opening kickoff in Columbus to draw first blood for the Nittany Lions. Once a runner as talented as Saquon Barkley finds the crease and gets into the open field, it’s game over for any opposing defense.

1. Marcus Allen Blocks Field Goal, Grant Haley Returns It To Upset Buckeyes, 2016

This game-winning special teams play was a no-brainer to put at No. 1 in the rankings. With just 4:39 remaining on the clock in the fourth quarter, No. 2 Ohio State sent out its field goal unit to try and push its lead to 24-17 and force the Nittany Lions to drive all the way downfield and score a touchdown to tie the game. Marcus Allen and Grant Haley had other plans, though.

Allen completely blew up the kick attempt by jumping into the air and getting his mitts on the football as it started its ascent toward the uprights. The ball went rolling toward the opposite end zone where cornerback Grant Haley scooped it up and ran it all the way back for an electrifying touchdown.

The return put the Nittany Lions up 24-21, allowing the Penn State defense to pin its ears back and rush the passer now that they had the lead. A game-ending sack by Evan Schwan on 4th-and-23 sealed the deal and, just like that, Penn State had its first win against a top-two opponent while being unranked since 1964.

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About the Author

Cadyn Gill

Cadyn is a freshman journalism major at Penn State. Hailing from the great state of Texas, he is a die hard Dallas sports fan. You'll often see him voicing his complaints about the Cowboys play calling on Twitter @cgill214.

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