In a tight primetime game on ABC, eight of Ohio State's 23 scholarship freshmen saw the field in the 33-24 victory over a non-rival. TreVeyon Henderson and J.T. Tuimoloau were among the true freshmen who made the biggest contributions in the Buckeyes’ fifth straight victory over Penn State.
A tale of two halves
Penn State's defense was hell-bent on stopping Henderson. In the first half, the Nittany Lions kept the game-changing tailback in check. Henderson had nine carries and was limited to paltry six yards. To put that in perspective, Garrett Wilson was Ohio State's leading rusher with seven yards as the team headed to the locker room. Yikes.
During the break, adjustments were made, and Ryan Day committed to giving Henderson the ball. The running back from Hopewell, Virginia, gouged the Nittany Lions for 146 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries in the second half.
A 68-yard run – Henderson's seventh rush of 30-plus yards this season – led to his 1-yard touchdown that ultimately made the difference in the win. Henderson has scored in every game this season and his 152 rushing yards is the most ever for an Ohio State freshman against Penn State.
If the Buckeyes completed the season with 13 games, Henderson would be on pace to finish with 1,361 yards. That projection is 42 yards shy of the 1,403 yards J.K. Dobbins racked-up over 14 games during his freshman year in 2017.
It wasn't all daylight and touchdowns for the phenomenal freshman. He was halted several times throughout the night on critical third and fourth down plays. Going forward, it will be critical for Ohio State to convert on these short-yardage situations if the team expects to clinch its fifth straight Big Ten title.
Sack man Tuimoloau
Early in the second quarter, Penn State was leading 7-3 and facing a 4th-and-5 on Ohio State's 43-yard line. The best players step up at the biggest times and Tuimoloau did just that.
On the snap, Tyreke Smith produced pressure from the edge as Tuimoloau spied Sean Clifford. Smith caused Clifford to step up in the pocket and Tuimoloau pounced on the unsuspecting prey.
Tuimoloau now has 2.5 sacks, 3.5 tackles for loss, 10 total tackles and a pass breakup in his first season as a Buckeye.
Big talk Burke
Denzel Burke was on the field for 75 defensive snaps and recorded two tackles against Penn State. He bounced between covering Jahan Dotson and Parker Washington throughout the game. Per Pro Football Focus, Burke was targeted just twice and allowed only 13 yards.
With just under six minutes remaining in the third quarter, Penn State was facing a 2nd-and-8 from its own 23-yard line. It appeared Burke blanketed Washington. However, the referee flagged him for pass interference.
A shame the refs didn't adhere to this high standard of penalty calling when it came to the Nittany Lions' offensive line.
Special teams and snaps spotlight
Emeka Egbuka was on the kickoff return team four times but did not return any kickoffs. He also helped four times on the punt return unit and came close to blocking a punt in the second quarter.
Marvin Harrison Jr. was on the punt return team four times and the kickoff return team twice.
Donovan Jackson protected on all of Ohio State's field goal and extra point kicks.
Jesse Mirco was called upon to punt three times. He averaged only 33 yards but dropped all of his punts inside the Penn State 20. Mirco also held on all of Ohio State's extra points and field goals.
Jack Sawyer was on the field for seven defensive snaps, his lowest since tallying three snaps against Oregon in Week 2.
J.T. Tuimoloau was on the field for every Penn State field goal and extra point attempt.
Tyleik Williams played nine defensive snaps against Penn State.
Under the NCAA's redshirt rules, a player can appear in up to four games at any point throughout the season and still count it as his redshirt year. Through the seventh game of the 2021 season, 13 of Ohio State's 23 scholarship true freshmen have seen the field, with nine – Burke, Egbuka, Harrison Jr., Henderson, Jackson, Mirco, Saywer, Tuimoloau and Williams – now ineligible for redshirts as they've appeared in five or more games.
|NAME||POS||DEBUT||PENN STATE STATS||GP||SEASON STATS|
|DENZEL BURKE||CB||MINN||2 tackles||8||18 tackles, 1 INT, 6 PBU, 1 TD|
|EMEKA EGBUKA||WR||MINN||Special teams||8||6 catches, 145 yards; 9 KOR, 317 yards|
|MARVIN HARRISON JR.||WR||MINN||Special teams||8||3 catches, 43 yards, 1 safety|
|TREVEYON HENDERSON||RB||MINN||28 rushes, 152 yards, 1 TD; 1 catch, 7 yards||8||106 rushes, 838 yards, 12 TD; 9 catches, 175 yards, 3 TD; 1 KOR, 19 yards|
|DONOVAN JACKSON||OL||MINN||Special teams||8||53 offensive snaps|
|JESSE MIRCO||P||MINN||3 punts, 33.0 avg, 3 inside 20||8||19 punts, 41.9 avg, 8 inside 20|
|JACK SAWYER||DE||MINN||7 defensive snaps||8||10 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 TFL, 1 QBH, 1 PBU, 1 FF|
|J.T. TUIMOLOAU||DE||MINN||1 tackle, 1 sack, 1 TFL||8||10 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 3.5 TFL, 1 QBH, 1 PBU|
|TYLEIK WILLAMS||DT||ORE||9 defensive snaps||7||13 tackles, 4 sacks, 5.5 TFL, 1 QBH, 1 PBU, 1 FF|
|KYLE McCORD||QB||AKRON||4||21/30, 399 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT; 7 rushes, -25 yards|
|EVAN PRYOR||RB||AKRON||4||21 rushes, 98 yards, 1 TD; 2 catches, 8 yards|
|TOBY WILSON||OL||AKRON||4||56 offensive snaps|
|MICHAEL HALL JR.||DT||AKRON||3||2 tackles, 0.5 TFL|
|JAYDEN BALLARD||WR||AKRON||3||1 catch, 4 yards|
|REID CARRICO||LB||AKRON||3||2 tackles|
|JORDAN HANCOCK||CB||AKRON||3||2 tackles, 1 PBU|
|ANDRE TURRENTINE||S||AKRON||2||10 defensive snaps|
|JANTZEN DUNN||S||AKRON||2||9 defensive snaps|
|JAKALIN JOHNSON||CB||AKRON||1||1 tackle|