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No. 7 Penn State Football Falls 20-12 Against No. 3 Ohio State

No. 7 Penn State football (6-1 overall, 3-1 Big Ten) fell 20-12 against the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes (7-0 overall, 4-0 Big Ten) Saturday at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.

The game was a defensive battle, as it was 10-6 entering the fourth quarter. However, Penn State’s consistent ineptitude to convert on third downs cost the Nittany Lions the game, as did a failed 4th-and-4 conversion attempt in their own territory late in the final quarter. Ohio State took advantage of this and won 20-12, with Penn State’s lone touchdown coming in garbage time. 

How It Happened

Ohio native Drew Allar and the Nittany Lions started at their own 25-yard line. Kaytron Allen had a six-yard gain, but then Allar threw consecutive passes that were broken up to force a three-and-out.

Kyle McCord found Marvin Harrison Jr. for a 13-yard pass to open their inaugural drive. The Philadelphia natives continued to connect throughout the drive, as there were two more completions and one incompletion between the duo. Ohio State had no problems moving the ball downfield until it reached the red zone, as Penn State broke up three consecutive passes to force the Buckeyes into kicking a field goal, which made it 3-0 at 10:49 in the first quarter.

Allar barely found Trey Wallace for a 12-yard completion. He threw it away under pressure on the ensuing play, and a three-yard run by Allen brought up 3rd-and-7. Allar threw another incompletion that was intended for KeAndre Lambert-Smith, and the Nittany Lions were forced to punt for the second drive in a row.

Penn State’s Manny Diaz’s defense dominated Brian Hartline’s offense. After Chip Trayanum’s two-yard run, McCord threw an incomplete pass, then he was sacked by Johnny Dixon to force the Buckeyes into their first three-and-out of the day.

Nick Singleton ripped a massive 20-yard run on the ensuing drive, which he followed up with a 12-yard gain. However, Allar was sacked to bring up 2nd-and-13, and then an incomplete pass brought up third down. Singleton only gained six yards, and Penn State kicked a field goal to tie it 3-3 with 5:15 left in the opening quarter.

The Buckeyes picked up a first down, but nothing more than that. The Nittany Lions broke up two passes, then McCord’s pass to Carnell Tate for six yards didn’t gain enough yardage, and the Buckeyes punted again.

Allar found Lambert-Smith for a 12-yard completion. After a two-yard rush by Singleton and a seven-yard reception by Wallace, Penn State found itself facing a 3rd-and-1 situation. The Nittany Lions unsuccessfully opted to throw the ball, and they were forced to punt it away.

Miyan Williams had a three-yard rush, and then McCord fired a 15-yard pass to Tate to end the first quarter. However, Ohio State didn’t generate anything else. What would’ve been a 13-yard pass to Harrison was broken up by Johnny Dixon, and Ohio State punted again.

The punting extravaganza continued, as the Nittany Lions couldn’t gain a first down after starting at their own 13-yard line. Consecutive two-yard rushes by Allen and an incomplete pass from Allar, who was hurried by JT Tuimoloau, sealed the deal.

The next drive was a whirlwind. Ohio State started off in a rhythm by moving the ball from its own 39-yard line all the way to Penn State’s 26-yard line, but then found itself at 3rd-and-11. On that play, McCord fumbled the ball and Curtis Jacobs returned it for a touchdown, which was called back due to defensive holding. After finding themselves at 3rd-and-10 and a pass interference penalty against Kalen King, Williams punched the ball in from the two-yard line to give Ohio State a 10-3 lead with 7:31 left in the second quarter.

Now back on the field after Ohio State’s five-minute drive, Allar found Tyler Warren for a first down. The tight end action continued, as Theo Johnson made a massive 34-yard play to set up shop at Ohio State’s 28-yard line. The drive then stalled, however, as an incompletion and two rushes combined for six yards forced Penn State into kicking a field goal to make it 10-6 with 4:16 remaining in the half.

McCord tossed a 35-yard pass to Harrison, putting the Buckeyes at Penn State’s 40-yard line. However, A two-yard rush and consecutive incompletions ended what initially appeared to be a promising drive.

Starting at their own six-yard line, Allen ripped an eight-yard run and then picked up a quick first down. Allar found Lambert-Smith for a 15-yard completion, then fired consecutive incompletions to bring up 3rd-and-10. He scrambled, trying to find Wallace who was deep, but overthrew him and nearly got picked off.

McCord took the knee with under a minute left, and Penn State trailed 10-6 at halftime.

Williams was tackled for a loss of five yards to begin the second half. Xavier Johnson then hauled in a six-yard catch, but McCord fired an incomplete pass that bounced off Daequan Hardy to bring up fourth down. 

Lambert-Smith made an 11-yard reception to open Penn State’s inaugural drive of the half. He made a five-yard catch two plays later on 2nd-and-7. Singleton was stuffed for a three-yard loss on the next play, and Penn State punted. 

Ohio State quickly found itself at 3rd-and-4 after two rushes from Williams. However, Harrison made an eight-yard catch to extend the drive. A false start set the Buckeyes back for 1st-and-15, but McCord connected with Julian Fleming for a 14-yard play. Unfortunately for Ohio State, it was called back due to holding. At 2nd-and-22, McCord was sacked by Kobe King at the four-yard line, and King had another tackle for loss to bring up fourth down. 

Jesse Mirco’s punt reached Penn State’s 24-yard line after Hardy let it slip by around the Penn State 45-yard line. Penn State’s misfortune continued, as Allen was stuffed for a loss of three yards. Allar rushed for five yards, and Penn State couldn’t convert on 3rd-and-7. 

McCord found his rhythm on the next drive, as he fired three consecutive completions to put Ohio State on the nine-yard line. Williams rushed the ball to the six-yard line, then Devin Brown reached the one-yard line on the next play. Williams was tackled for a one-yard loss, and Ohio State went for it on 4th-and-goal. McCord turned to pass and found Tate, who was tackled by Zakee Wheatley short of the line. 

Despite having the momentum, Penn State went three-and-out once again. However, the momentum continued. The punt deflected off Fleming, and Tyler Elsdon recovered the ball at his own 48-yard line. 

The offense remained on the field and had another poor showing. Lambert-Smith lost two yards on the first play, but an offsides call moved Penn State to 2nd-and-7 to end the third quarter. Allar was sacked by Tuimoloau for a loss of eight yards. As if there was any suspense as to what would happen on third down, Penn State didn’t convert and punted again. 

Despite being sacked for a loss of three yards on the first play, McCord found Harrison for a 28-yard play. Then, Cade Stover made a 29-yard reception, the ball sailing over Penn State’s secondary in the process. Trayanum’s two rushes for five yards apiece brought up a first down, but Ohio State found itself at 3rd-and-3 after he gained one yard and Harrison made a six-yard catch. McCord threw an incompletion, and Jayden Fielding kicked a field goal to extend the lead to 13-6 with 8:59 left in regulation. 

Singleton returned the kickoff to the 37-yard line. With the Ohio Stadium crowd reaching a crescendo, Allen received the handoff and gained three yards. He rushed again, this time for another three yards, to set up 3rd-and-4. Allar threw an incompletion, but Penn State remained on the field for fourth down. Allar threw another incompletion, and Ohio State took over. 

The Buckeyes regained the ball at Penn State’s 43-yard line, and it took seven plays for Harrison to find the end zone to make it 20-6 with 4:07 left in the game. 

Incompletions and penalties were the recurring themes of Penn State’s next drive, as Allar tossed seven duds but was given multiple chances to make up for these with two defensive penalties despite picking up an intentional grounding call. Penn State went for it on 4th-and-30, and Allar was sacked to give Ohio State the ball.

Ohio State didn’t do anything on its next drive, and Allar came out again for the Nittany Lions. A 12-play drive culminated in Penn State’s first touchdown of the day, as he found Kaden Saunders in the end zone. Penn State unsuccessfully went for the two-point conversion, and the score became 20-12.

The Buckeyes ran down the clock and won 20-12 to hand Penn State its first loss of the season. 


  • Penn State’s offense was simply horrendous today. It only managed 118 passing yards and 71 rushing yards without finding the end zone. 
  • Additionally, the offense was 0-for-12 on third downs. That’s abysmal in a must-win game with huge implications on the line. The offense folded when it mattered most, and now there won’t be anything to show for the statistically promising start to the season as a result. 
  • Penn State’s questionable play-calling continued when the offense went for it on 4th-and-4 in the fourth quarter at its own 43-yard line. Allar threw an incomplete pass, which basically ended the game by giving Ohio State a good field position with a few minutes left in the game.
  • Allar himself had another tough road trip. He went 18-for-42 and threw for 192 yards and a garbage-time touchdown in the loss. The sophomore’s growing pains are evident, as he continues to struggle to hit his targets. 

What’s Next

Penn State returns home to face the Indiana Hoosiers at noon on Saturday, October 28, at Beaver Stadium.

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About the Author

Nolan Wick

Nolan is a third-year journalism major from Silver Spring, Maryland, which means he's an avid fan of all D.C. sports teams. If Nolan isn't writing about or watching sports, you can probably find him listening to all sorts of music or traveling. To keep up with Nolan, you can follow him on Twitter @nolan_wick or email him at [email protected].

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