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Penn State upsets Ohio State. Let's talk about it.Posted by Land-Grant Holy Land - For Ohio State fans on Saturday, October 22, 2016
In front of a wet and windy White Out in State College, PA, the Penn State Nittany Lions (5-2, 3-1) knocked off the previously unbeaten No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes (6-1, 3-1). Despite trailing for most of the game, PSU capitalized on uncharacteristic sloppiness from Ohio State’s special teams to win 24-21. The road loss was Urban Meyer’s first as the head coach of the Buckeyes, breaking his 20-game win streak.
Throughout the game, the Buckeyes made plays and took leads that felt like they were nearly insurmountable. However, the persistent Penn State squad bucked momentum multiple times to keep the game close until they were able to convert on big plays in the fourth quarter. Though the Ohio State offense showed intermittent signs of life, the pounding rain seemed to force the Penn State special teams into more than their fair share of mistakes in the first half, but two huge special teams plays of their own sparked a 17-0 run in the second half.
Despite the outcome, Ohio State dominated most of the game, out gaining Penn State 413-276. After a shaky start, quarterback J.T. Barrett finished 28 of 42 for 245 yards and touchdown. His PSU counterpart, Trace McSorley, was 8/23 for 154 and a score.
The story of the first quarter was the continuation of Ohio State’s early woes on both sides of the ball. On the first drive of the game, PSU moved the ball into the red zone before consecutive negative plays forced them to settle for a field goal attempt. From 39 yards, Tyler Davis’ kick was extremely low and hit the back of a Penn State lineman. With Urban Meyer and the entire OSU sideline yelling to get away from the ball, Damon Webb picked it up and could have had a decent return until a Buckeye blocker was flagged for a 15-yard penalty for hitting below the waist, putting the Bucks in the shadow of their own goal line.
Early on, the Ohio State defensive line was applying pressure on McSorley, but wasn’t able to get to him. Instead, running back Saquon Barkley gashed the defense for multiple big gains, but the Nittany Lions were unable to convert them into points. After trading a pair of moderately productive drives, Penn State was moving the ball again before defensive end Jayln Holmes blew up a fake reverse to push them out of field goal range.
On the subsequent punt, Dontre Wilson muffed the catch before Gareon Conley picked it up inside the 10-yard line. OSU went three and out, but Penn State punt returner John Reed returned the favor by muffing it as well. This time, Buckeye gunner Terry McLaurin picked it up flipping the field. After running back Mike Weber picked up 23 to get OSU into the red zone, they settled for a 33-yard field goal to start the second quarter, taking the first lead of the game at 3-0. Weber finished with 71 yards on 21 carries.
Like the defense, Barrett and the offense were sluggish at best in the first 15 minutes, managing only 61 yards. Despite leading the team in all-purpose yards on the season, H-back Curtis Samuel had only one target in the first quarter, an over throw by Barrett in the red zone, an on-going theme of the first quarter and change.
Samuel got his first touch on a 15 yard catch and run at the 9:15 mark in the second quarter, 24 offensive snaps into the game. Later in the drive, Barrett rushed for 10 yards on a 4th and 2 to prolong the drive; the team’s 10th conversion on 13 fourth down attempts this season. Two plays later, the QB connected with tight-end Marcus Baugh who ran over a Penn State defender and spun around another en route to the game’s first touchdown. The 26-yard completion put the Buckeyes up 9-0, but kicker Tyler Durbin missed only his second kick of any kind this season on the point after attempt.
Barrett seemed to finally settle into a groove on the scoring drive, going 7 for 8 for 68 yards and the TD, in addition to the 4th down conversion.
On the next offensive series, on first down at the OSU 48, three Penn State defenders had their hands on Barrett in the backfield, but the slippery QB used the ball to maintain his balance before scampering for a big 19-yard gain to Penn State’s 32. Similarly, on the very next play, Barrett completed a 19-yard pass to McLaurin as PSU tackle Curtis Cothran was in the process of bringing him down.
Despite the big plays on the drive, Ohio State settled for its second field goal of the game to take a 12-0 lead with 1:14 left in the first half.
After the Lion passing game had been next to non-existent for much of the first half, McSorley completed a 19-yard pass to receiver Chris Godwin on 3rd and 8, and then on the next play, threw up a rainbow that DaeSean Hamilton was able to corral for 34 yards to get the ball down to the 20. Two plays later, Penn State got on the board with a TD pass to Godwin, who pulled it in over Gareon Conley. At the half, Ohio State led 12-7.
The teams exchanged punts on the first two series of the third quarter before Samuel took a 3rd and 2 zone-read 74 yards untouched to the end zone to put the Bucks up 19-7. The run, Samuel’s first carry of the game, was also the longest of his career, besting a 40-yard sprint against Western Michigan last year. On the play, Weber picked up a big block on linebacker Jason Cabinda to seal the path to pay dirt.
On the ensuing Penn State possession, the Buckeye defense forced a punt from the 30, but Nick Cox’s snap went over the head of punter Blake Gillikin who fell on the ball in his own end zone for a safety, extending the Ohio State lead to 21-7, where it remained into the fourth quarter.
After an OSU punt, McSorley completed a pass to tight end an uncovered Mike Gesicki, who missed significant time in the first half due to an ankle injury. Even though the Buckeye defenders had bitten on a Barkley wheel route, opening up huge running room for Gesicki, he fell down for a 16-yard completion. On the next two plays, Barkley ran for 37 and Saeed Blacknail pulled in a 35-yard pass to take the ball down to the 2. Two plays later, McSorley scrambled for a touchdown, which was upheld on review, to pull the Lions within seven at 21-14.
On the first play of the next OSU drive, lineman Isaiah Price backed into Weber right after he took a handoff from Barrett. Weber then dropped the ball before falling on it for a six-yard loss, putting the offense behind the chains, resulting in a punt. After rolling to the right, Cam Johnston’s kick was blocked by freshman linebacker Cam Brown, setting the Penn State offense up with great field position.
After a questionable horse-collar call on Tyquan Lewis, the Buckeye defense tightened up with PSU in the red zone. Davis connected on a 34-yard field goal to bring the Ohio State lead to 21-17.
On a nice second down crossing route, wide receiver Noah Brown collected a 34-yard reception to get the OSU offense into Penn State territory. After PSU corner John Reid dropped an interception inside the five, Durbin’s 45-yard field goal attempt was blocked safety Marcus Allen, and junior CB Grant Haley returned it for a touchdown, to put the Nittany Lions up 24-21 with four and a half minutes remaining.
On third and nine deep in Ohio State territory with 3:09 left, Samuel pulled in a 15-yard reception and a first down. With time running out, the Buckeye offense continued to settle for short passes that picked up yardage, but ate up large amounts of clock. Barrett routinely had to avoid pressure in the backfield, and a deep pass to WR James Clark bounced off of his facemask. Replay shows that the PSU defensive back delivered an arm-bar to Clark before the ball got there, but it went uncalled.
On the next play, Penn State gets to Barrett for a 13-yard sack, leaving them with a 4th and 23 with just 1:07 left. On the next play, Barrett was again dropped to end Ohio State’s chances at an undefeated season.
After not being a factor for more than a quarter, Samuel matched Weber’s 71 yards on the ground and led the team with eight receptions for 68 yards. For Penn State, Barkley used multiple big gains to finish the night with 99 yards on the ground.