#2 Ohio State 28, #8 Penn State 17
I didn’t think it would be a close game. In the end, it wasn’t, but I think the Nittany Lions redeemed themselves, even in losing. When the sports media collectively opine that this was Ohio State’s “first test of the year”, your boys had a high bar to vault.
Sinking Expectations but Then…
When tOSU established a 14-point lead in the first half, which Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day said “should have been 35-0”, and then extended it to 21-0 early in the third quarter, I felt my cynical, adjusted pre-game prediction of 66-3 would come to pass. Penn State would go gently into the detritus pile of those who Ohio State has faced and summarily discarded in 2019. Overcoming the adversity of the injury loss of our starting quarterback, a couple of key defensive plays and one decent drive proved me wrong. At one point early in the fourth quarter, winning the game was in reach for the Nittany Lions with Ohio State leading 21-17, but a costly mistake by backup quarterback Will Levis let the Buckeyes put the game away.
Although the PSU secondary showed some of its characteristic flaws, the defense rose to the challenge. The running of J.K Dobbins (157 yards, 2 TDs) and Justin Fields (68 yards), plus a passing game that was there when they needed it, propelled the Buckeyes to victory. They had 229 yards rushing and 188 yards passing while Penn State was only able to muster 99 yards rushing and 128 yards passing. Ohio State uncharacteristically coughed up the ball three times, a credit to a clawing, tenacious Penn State defense. Micah Parsons channeled his idol LeVar Arrington to play a big part in forcing turnovers. Two of the fumbles resulted in Penn State scores. The Nittany Lions took care of the ball for most of the game, but it was the lone interception of a Will Levis pass that closed the lid on their chances.
OSU Defense Ruled
The stats say the game should have been a blowout. TOSU had the advantage in IITOP, 34:15 to 25:45, with one decent Penn State drive against the staunch Buckeyes defense all day, a 9-play, 75-yard drive capped by a Will Levis TD run in the third quarter. tOSU had 27 first downs to Penn State’s 15. The mighty Ohio State defense was up to the task. Sackmeister Chase Young had three sacks and four tackles for loss, while the rest of the defense contributed to produce a total of five sacks and nine TFLs.
Not many of us expected that the Lions would be able to keep up with the Buckeyes. I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome and with their grit in the second half. There will be some whining regarding the noon start, officiating, etc., but that is loser talk and you won’t hear it from me. I have increasing respect for these guys, who hung in there when the chips were down — way down.
You’ll also hear whining about PSU dropping to #12 in the AP poll, while Michigan ascended to #10.
With the Senior Day Rutgers game ahead — a sure win if ever there was one — the Lions are looking to wind up with a 7-2 conference record, fueling some Rose Bowl “what if” speculation. I suppose it is possible, but barely. I’m think the most likely bowl destination for Penn State is Tampa.
This Turkey will now depart for Big Ten country for Thanksgiving, as Artificially Sweetened’s nativity is Chicago. With fall turkey season in progress in Florida, they won’t find me up there. If I have a moment or two, I might write something about the technically required Rutgers game, or I might not. In any event, I wish you all a Very Happy Thanksgiving!