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Column: What did we learn from the Penn State game?

Good and bad, many different areas of the Buckeyes were highlighted Saturday.

Ohio State v Penn State Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

I usually complain about blowouts, but after Saturday’s game and what it did to my heart, I don’t think I will ever be upset about a 40-point win again. Penn State is always a close game, and with it being Ohio State’s first real competition of the year, a few things were exposed.

Establishing a run game is CRUCIAL

Ohio State v Penn State Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Through the first three quarters of the game, the Buckeyes had a pretty much nonexistent run game. Obviously having Miyan Williams get injured was a major contributor to the lack of a run game, but even with that, it proved how much Ohio State relies on it.

TreVeyon Henderson was really having a rough time getting going, but it wasn’t entirely his fault. The offensive line did not do him any favors, so most of his rushes ended up with negative yardage or no gain. However, once he broke free for his 41-yard touchdown run, the momentum totally changed.

C.J. Stroud and his receivers just weren’t working early on. That’s why having a run game was pivotal. Neither was working to start though, but luckily the defense came through. The Bucks can’t always count on the fact that Stroud & Co. are going to click right away and figure out the opposing team’s defense quickly. Therefore, the running backs must be able to be counted on.

There are two, possibly three, Heisman contenders on this team

Ohio State v Penn State Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Stroud, once again, proved why he is the Heisman frontrunner. He went 6-of-8 in the fourth quarter, leading the offense down the field and making the throws when it mattered most. Prior to the fourth quarter, it’s not that he was doing bad necessarily — he went 26-of-33 for the whole game. The plays being called were just not working (please no more bubble screens!).

The other Heisman contender I’m speaking of is Stroud’s go-to guy, Marvin Harrison Jr. When all else fails, you can count on Marv making a play. He had 10 receptions for 185 yards, yet didn’t have any touchdowns. That’s when you know a guy is impactful — he didn’t even score, yet the receptions he did make had major ramifications for putting the Bucks in the red zone. I truly do think it’s time for Marv to be entered into the Heisman conversation.

We all know that this game is classified as the J.T. Tuimoloau game. It was one of the greatest defense performances in Ohio State history. Tuimoloau finished with six tackles, two sacks, two interceptions, one forced fumble and fumble recovery, and one touchdown. Now, obviously he won’t be playing like this every week (I mean, I hope he does), but this was certainly his coming out game. If he continues to be a major contributor every game, I think he could be considered as a finalist.

Having a good defense is important.

Ohio State v Penn State Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

I am so happy that whenever the Buckeyes’ defense comes onto the field, I don’t dread it. In fact, I actually welcome it, as opposed to last year. It is so nice being able to rely on the Silver Bullets to come through when needed.

Top to bottom, they are looking good. Some holes were exposed Saturday, as they did still give up 31 points, but last year’s defense would’ve given up double that, and probably wouldn’t have gotten any interceptions. I think Jim Knowles has figured out who works best on the D-Line, and Zach Harrison in particular had a great game (alongside Tuimoloau, of course).

It was good for them to play a solid offense, probably the best they have seen all year. Now, they know what to work on and will be prepared for TTUN. Overall, I am still happy with what I saw from them Saturday.