It was just another Saturday in Columbus as the Buckeyes did what they do best and moved to 7-0 on the season. The Buckeyes defeated Penn State (6-1) 20-12 and now have one of the best resumes in football.
Here are some of the players and things that I am higher and lower on after Saturday.
Marvin Harrison Jr.: I am going to take the easy one here. And it’s because I think it is very simple. Ohio State beat Penn State because one team has Marvin Harrison Jr., and one doesn’t. The best players have to step up in the biggest moments, and that is all Marvin Harrison does. Over the last two seasons against Penn State, Harrison has 21 catches, 347 yards, and a touchdown. And all of those stats have been against guys playing on Sunday.
If the Heisman were truly the best player in the sport (it’s not), MHJ would have a great argument to win it. Harrison continues to impress, and he is going to be a top-five pick in the 2024 NFL draft and make a team very lucky.
Jim Knowles: You could just argue the defense, but I think it’s time Knowles gets his flowers. He came in last season to a unit that was really struggling to find an identity, and even though last year didn’t end great, they looked good most of last year and now all of this season thus far. This team is now winning games on the defensive end of the ball, and when you still have weapons like Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka on the other side, good things will happen.
Jesse Mirco: As Ohio State fans, we love criticizing the special teams. And a lot of it is deserved, but I think Jesse Mirco made a huge difference in this game. He had six punts for an average of just over 42 yards per punt, downed two inside the 20-yard line, and had a 72-yard punt that completely flipped the field on the Nittany Lions. That is so important in a close game where points are at a premium. Also, Jayden Felding missed his first field goal, but on the season, he is 9-for-10 on field goals and 29-for-30 on extra points.
Cade Stover: Don’t look now, but it is possible Farmer Gronk will win the Mackey Award. That’s the award given to the top tight end every season, and Stover has been right up there with the best of them. With Brock Bowers injured, that award could be up for grabs. Stover has stepped into a huge role now and was a great second option Saturday, with Egbuka still out. Stover will continue to be a weapon for the Buckeyes.
Divisions: This is obviously more of a general statement, but it just doesn’t seem right that only one of Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan will play in the conference championship. With Iowa losing to Minnesota, it is very murky who will win the Big Ten West. It could be Nebraska. No one wants that. Just get rid of divisions tomorrow so we can all get the conference championship we want as fans.
Buy: Third down defense. This season, the offense has had some struggles on third down. It was nice watching that shoe on the other foot in this one. Penn State was abysmal on third down, only going 1-for-16 and 1-for-3 on fourth down. Against other good offenses, the Buckeyes have fared well too. They held Notre Dame to 5-for-10 and 0-for-3 on fourth down and held Maryland to 8-for-19 on third down. If the defense can keep up this trend, they will fare well against Michigan and other top teams they may see.
Buy: Mistake-free football. Kyle McCord has one interception this season. The Buckeyes have only lost four fumbles this season. McCord isn't Justin Fields or CJ Stroud yet, but what he lacks in experience and consistency he has made up for in decision-making. And so far, in every close game the Buckeyes have had, they have not turned the ball over, and that is as important as anything. If they can continue to not turn the ball over, they can compete with anyone.
Sell: “Maserati Marv.” This is only in reference to that particular nickname. Because I like nicknames in general, and obviously, the player is not the issue. But I don’t love it. I like Magnificent Marvin a little better. I think maybe Gus Johnson just said it too many times on Saturday, and I will give it another shot. But on first review, I think I am selling it for now.