The 2023 edition of Ohio State versus Penn State proved to be a clash of two of the top teams in the Big Ten East, as well as the country. If you are a fan of offense, this game was probably one of the more painful games to watch. If you love defense, this game was a throwback to the Tressel era teams who did not give an inch, and a difference of 4-5 plays is what defined the game. The Buckeyes were held to one of their lower offensive outputs of the season with 365 yards, which is a credit to the Penn State defense, along with being down some of their offensive weapons with Emeka Egbuka, and TreVeyon Henderson (his third straight game). Impressively, the Buckeyes were able to hold Penn State to 240 yards of offense, and sacked Allar 4 times, as well as stopping the Nittany Lions on 3rd down 15 of 16 times.
The Buckeyes scored on their first drive of the game, after stopping Penn State on a 3 and out, and ended the drive with a filed goal to go up 3-0. Penn State matched the score with a field goal on their 3rd series.
After exchanging two punts each, the Buckeyes were driving in Penn State territory, and for a moment, it looked like Penn State was going to make a critical play when Nittany Lions linebacker Curtis Jacobs knocked the ball loose from McCord, scooped up the fumble and ran 60 yards the other way for an apparent touchdown that would have given them the lead. However, the play was nullified because of defensive holding penalty, and the Buckeyes scored 5 plays later with a Miyan Williams touchdown on the 2 yard line.
Penn State would cut the lead on their next series, being held to another field goal to make the score 10-6 in favor of the Buckeyes. Ohio State had the ball back with 42 seconds left and all 3 timeouts, but Ryan Day conservatively kneed it down to take the lead going into halftime.
The second half adjustments for each team made a combined 7 stops or a turnover on downs. The Buckeyes had a chance on their third drive of the second half to punch it in again for a touchdown on 4th and goal, but were stopped.Devin Brown once more came into the game when the Buckeyes were in the redzone, but a lower foot injury on the second and goal play of the drive possibly stalled the momentum.
The next two drives for the Buckeyes put the game away with a field foal, and then a touchdown to take a 20-6 lead, and only 4 minutes and 7 seconds left in the game. The Buckeye defense stepped up once more, and didn’t allow any more yards or a score until the very last minutes of the game when they went into prevent with their second team defense, and Penn State cut it to 20-12 after a touchdown pass thrown by Allar, and a failed 2-point conversion.
Kyle McCord had a decent game, passing for 286 yards with 22 of 25 completions, and the 1 touchdown to Marvin Harrison Jr at the end of the game. He did get sacked twice on the day for -10 yards.
Miyan Williams was back in action after not playing last week against Purdue, and was the lead bell cow for the running backs, rushing for 24 carries for 64 yards and a touchdown. Chip Trayanum was back in action as well, and carried the ball 9 times for 22 yards. Devin Brown and Xavier Johnson also were credited for carries with 4 combined carries for 9 yards.
Marvin Harrison Jr recorded his 5th 160 yard receiving game, which is the most in Buckeye history for a receiver. He finished with 11 catches for 162 yards and a touchdown in the 4th quarter that clinched the game. Cade Stover once more made big plays with his 4 catches for 70 yards, including a great catch over a Penn State defender that helped set up a Buckeye scoring drive. Carnell Tate filled in for Emeka Egbuka and finished the game with 3 catches for 21 yards.
Ryan Day has said all week that this would be a 4-quarter game, and that was exactly what this game was. The Buckeye led 13-6 with 8 minutes and 59 seconds left in the game. The Buckeye defense stepped up, and held Penn State to 6 plays on their next series, including a critical 4th down stop on their own 43 yard line. Aided by a face-mask penalty against the Nittany Lions, the Buckeyes took 6 plays, 3 minutes and 10 seconds off the clock, and the McCord to Harrison connection was automatic, with Harrison scoring on a 18 yard touchdown pass to make the game a two score advantage for the Buckeyes, and it ended up being the game clinching touchdown.
Star of the Game
Marvin Harrison Jr, and the Ohio State defense. The Silver Bullets were as advertised Saturday, not allowing Penn State convert a 3rd down until the last two minutes of the game, and help them to 6 points until the last 26 seconds of the game. Drew Allar had trouble connecting with any of his receivers all game, and the defense allowed only 240 yards. Offensively, Marvin Harrison Jr was the difference maker and Penn State did not have a caliber player to match. His 11 catches for 162 yards and a touchdown should hopefully put Marvin Harrison in the conversation with the national player awards.
The Buckeyes now have 2 win against top-10 teams, which is one of the best resume’s in the country. Michigan and Georgia though will appear to be two of the more dominant teams in the country, and I don’t see the voters moving the Buckeyes up past them at this point unless one of those teams suffer a defeat. The College Football Playoff Committee will release their first rankings on Halloween, and assuming the Buckeyes can defeat Wisconsin on the road next week, they should be in the mix for one of the top 4 teams in the country, along with a combination of Georgia, Michigan, Alabama, Oklahoma, Florida State, and Washington.
Ohio State (7-0) will travel to face off against Wisconsin (5-2) for a 7:30pm kickoff on NBC.
Penn State (2-5) will return home to face off against Indiana (2-5) for a noon kick on CBS.
Photo Credit: Ben Jackson/Getty Images