Man, that one was, uh, a tough watch.
Ohio State fumbled three times and made a couple other crucial mistakes to give the Nittany Lions a chance in Columbus, but ultimately the Buckeyes held on 28-17 behind a big day on the ground from Justin Fields and J.K. Dobbins, as well as the re-establishment of Chase Young as the best player in the country.
#VARSITY is 11-0 heading into a big-time showdown in Ann Arbor next week. Let's debrief.
The Short Story
Ohio State came out pounding in this one, rushing for 91 yards on their opening drive to take an early lead. The Buckeyes would expand on that lead, eventually going on top 21-0 early in the third quarter. But the wheels *almost* fell off there as Micah Parsons and LaMont Wade forced two Buckeye fumbles that led to points for Penn State.
With the score holding at 21-17, Justin Fields led the Buckeyes down the field and threw a beautiful touchdown pass to Chris Olave, who made an excellent catch to make it 28-17.
The score would hold there, as the Buckeyes were able to eventually contain Penn State backup quarterback Will Levis, aided by an interception from Justin Hilliard and the dominance of Chase Young.
Chase Young Status: Still Good At Football
They talked about it. All week. The return of Chase Young against a top-ten team was a major storyline all throughout college football this week and it certainly lived up to the hype.
After securing four sacks in the Wisconsin game, Young added another three in this one to go with nine total tackles (second on the team; Werner, 10) and two forced fumbles.
The Buckeyes indeed caught a break with having Young miss just the Maryland and Rutgers games. He had seven sacks in the two games against Wisconsin and Penn State. He should still be invited to New York City in a few weeks. The man is the most dominant defensive player college football has seen in a while.
Jim Tressel's Favorite Moment
First off, Jim has asked that we do not discuss the soon-to-be vacant job of The Ohio State University President and his potential fit. I've been told he will only take the job if students are mandated to wear sweater vests to class. I'd support it, but I don't know about the rest of the student body.
Jim woke up early as always, had a great breakfast and then spent his morning flipping through BTN, ESPN, and FOX to watch the morning shows. He enjoyed seeing his (eventual) successor, Urban Meyer, on Big Noon Kickoff and Kirk Herbstreit on Gameday.
When the game kicked off, Jim was curious if the Buckeyes would be aggressive through the air, or try and ground pound their way to a victory.
We got our answer quick. Jim was hooting and hollering as Ohio State punished the Nittany Lions defensive front with a 91 yard drive that featured nothing but run plays and ended with a touchdown by J.K. Dobbins.
Jim said, "Wow, in all my years I don't think I've ever seen that. I may need to stop watching football. It will never get better than this."
The only thing missing was a fullback.
For a good team to become a great team, they need to have players who may not be called on to produce every single down make big plays when necessary.
And Justin Hillard did just that yesterday. With the Nittany Lions driving down the field, Hilliard intercepted a pass from Penn State backup quarterback Will Levis to get the ball back to the Buckeyes in a crucial spot.
It was perhaps the biggest play in Hilliard's Ohio State career, and it set up the Buckeyes to take the momentum back.
Biggest Question Moving Forward
Michigan has look awfully good ever since their absolute thrashing of Notre Dame a few weeks back.
Shea Patterson has thrown for over 700 combined yards the past two weeks and the Wolverine offense is flying high in Ann Arbor.
On the other side of the ball, you know Don Brown will be pissed off from last years result and try some new wrinkles to slow down the Buckeyes.
How will Ohio State respond in another huge test? The Buckeyes needed every ounce of energy to win yesterday, and now they will have to do it on the road in a hostile environment.
It should be a fun one.