Ohio State 44, Penn State 31
The game could have gone either way after three quarters were played, but Ohio State stepped on the gas in the fourth quarter, scoring 28 points to Penn State’s 17. With a career performance by defensive end J. T. Tuimoloau, who had a monster day forcing turnovers, and by turning to their talented skill players in crunch time, they transformed what had been an off-day for C. J. Stroud into a resounding victory.
Turnovers’ll Kill Ya
After the game, I was on a bell pepper run to Publix when Chris the Checkout Guy spotted my Penn State t-shirt and bemusedly asked, “What happened?” He said he had left to go to work in the third quarter when the game was tight, and then while at work he saw the final score. “Turnovers,” I said. “Lots of them, including a pick-six.” The Nittany Lions had taken the road less traveled, and it made all the difference.
Four turnovers against Ohio State spells doom. The Buckeyes had none of their own. In an evenly played game, that’s a killer. Turnovers’ll killya. Q.E.D.
Sean Clifford came out throwing: forty-seven pass attempts, to be exact. That’s a lot of passes for our sixth-year super senior.
As Darrell Royal once said, “When you throw the ball, three things can happen and two of them aren’t good.” (Some assholes at the bar will always pop up and say it was Woody Hayes or Bo Schembechler who said it, but I’m saying it was Darrell Royal, so STFU!). Well, on three of those forty-seven pass attempts, bad things happened, and that doesn’t even count the lost possession fumble on a strip-sack.
Anyway, Clifford was 32-47 for 371 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions. Plus, that one disastrous strip-sack, if you don’t mind me mentioning it again. Meanwhile, C. J. Stroud was 26-33 for 354 yards and a TD. No interceptions, though. Oh, yeah. That makes a difference, doesn’t it?
Stroud’s star receivers made a difference too, although it was a wash between Schmuckeye Marvin Harrison, Jr. (10 for 185 with a long of 37) and Penn State’s Parker Washington (11 for 179 with a long of 58 and a TD).
Big Man on Defense
Defensive end J. T. Tuimoloau had a career day, including a pick-six that sealed the deal. According to ESPN, Tuimoloau became one of three FBS players in the past fifteen seasons to record two sacks, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, an interception, and a touchdown in a single game. Tuimoloau did even better, as he had not one, but TWO interceptions. His final line: six tackles, three solo, two sacks, and three tackles for loss.
Run for Your Lives
The Penn State running game was present, but well bottled up except for one 27-yard run by Kaytron Allen. The Schmuckeyes had similar issues running the ball against the stalwart Penn State front seven, but one 41-yard TD-scoring run by Treveyon Henderson put tOSU ahead for good early in the fourth quarter. From that point, the Bucks scored three more touchdowns, while the Nittany Lions could only muster a field goal and a meaningless touchdown with 1:12 left in the game. The subsequent onside kick failed, but at that point they would have needed two touchdowns to win.
Otherwise, the Nittany Lions outran the Bucks 111-98. But the only stat that matters is the one on the scoreboard at the end of the game.
And, In Summation…
Yeah, turnovers’ll killya. Penn State played hard and steadily. The Nittany Lions` had more first downs than their opponents, they rang up more total yards, and they did very well on third and fourth down conversions. They were moving the ball well. But four turnovers against a good team is not survivable.
For you still exuberant Sanguinarians® clinging to a false hope of a playoff spot and considering all the plausible scenarios that could put the Nittany Lions in there if the stars are properly aligned, I’ll leave you with this quote from the late, lamented John McKay, head coach of the USC Trojans (1960-1975) and the NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1975-1984), one of my football quote heroes:
Three or four plane crashes and we’re in the playoffs.—John McKay
Yes, I was wrong about the game’s outcome. My prediction was 46-17 and the game wound up 44-31. From the gambling perspective, the Schmuckeyes did not cover the spread and the OVER would have been the winner. So, I’m an idiot, but I am heartened by the realization that Penn State played much better than I thought they would. We’ll move on from here, and we still can see a 10-2 season. I’ll be back with a look at the forthcoming game at 3-5 Indiana.