Marvin Harrison Jr. Shows He’s “One of the Most Special Players in the Country” with 162-Yard Performance Against Penn State

By Andy Anders on October 21, 2023 at 7:07 pm
Marvin Harrison Jr. vs. Penn State

Maserati Marv was the engine of Ohio State’s offense against Penn State.

That’s not hyperbolic to say when a single wide receiver accounts for 44.4 percent of a team’s total yardage. Harrison had 11 receptions for 162 yards and a touchdown against the Nittany Lions, collecting 56.6 percent of Kyle McCord’s 286 passing yards.

“I’ve got to give Marvin Harrison so much credit,” Ryan Day said. “To go for 11 catches for 162 and a touchdown when I think most teams, the first thing they look at is ‘How do we take away Marvin Harrison?’ We targeted him 16 times and I think he was open for most of those 16 plays. So he showed up in a big spot today.”

As No. 3 Ohio State handed No. 7 Penn State a 20-12 loss in the Horseshoe on Saturday, Harrison continued to show why he is perhaps the nation’s best player. That’s with a run game averaging 1.9 yards per carry and without his partner-in-crime Emeka Egbuka at receiver.

“I think you could say a lot’s on my shoulders, but that’s my job at the end of the day,” Harrison said. “My teammates and coaches count on me to be the focal point of the offense, and each and every week I know they’re going to lean on me. Offense kind of goes as I go.”

Harrison cut his teeth early against the Nittany Lions. On Ohio State’s first offensive play, to be exact.

With Penn State playing man coverage, the Buckeyes dialed up a corner route for their star receiver and he picked up 13 yards on a quick pitch-and-catch. Harrison picked up three receptions for 28 yards on that opening drive, helping set up Ohio State for a field goal that drew first blood in the game.

Harrison hit a bit of a lull from there. None of his next five targets were completed through the rest of the first quarter.

He broke that string with a 12-yard first-down catch in the second quarter. McCord tossed it Harrison’s way seven more times after that, and Harrison caught all seven of those passes for a string of eight straight receptions when targeted.

“Shoutout to Coach Day and to Coach Hartline, they did a tremendous scheming me up a little bit to help me get open,” Harrison said. “I just try to do my part. If I get the ball, I’m wide open, try to get some yards after catch. Do everything I can to keep the offense on schedule.”

Even when Penn State interfered with Harrison to try and contain him, it didn’t work.

Speaking of penalties, Harrison also drew perhaps the most important penalty of the day for the scarlet and gray.

As he came out of his break on a route on an early second-quarter snap, Harrison was held by a Nittany Lion defender. McCord double-clutched and tried to scramble from the pocket on the play. Penn State linebacker Curtis Jacobs hit McCord as he reared back to throw, jarring the ball loose and picking it up for a 60-yard scoop-and-score. But, the touchdown was called back for a defensive holding.

Penn State would have taken a 10-3 lead if not for the penalty. Instead, Ohio State scored five plays later on a 2-yard run from Miyan Williams to go up 10-3 itself.

“If there wasn’t a hold there, that would have been a whole different game,” Day said. “We’ve got to get rid of that stuff. It was a hold, I think that’s why he double-clutched it, but still.”

Harrison was at his best in the second half, collecting six catches on six targets for 87 yards and his touchdown.

The scoring jaunt came on a crossing route. Cade Stover sucked up two defenders on his own crosser, Harrison knifed underneath and came wide open to catch a ball in-stride from McCord. Darting outside to pick up a block from Carnell Tate, Harrison picked up 17 of the 18 yards on the scoring toss after the catch.

The play put Ohio State ahead 20-6 and all but sealed its victory over Penn State with 4:07 remaining.

“We had a little crossing route to me,” Harrison said. “I think we missed one the first drive of the game we probably would have scored on. We came back to the same play when we needed it in the fourth quarter and Kyle did a great job getting me the ball. Offensive line as well, and the receivers ran some good routes to kind of get a pick for me.”

With his production Saturday, Harrison continues to set new Ohio State benchmarks.

“If (the Heisman Trophy) is truly the award that goes to the best player in college football, I don’t know how he’s not in the mix.”– Kyle McCord on Marvin Harrison Jr.

Not only was it his third consecutive 100-yard game and fifth in Ohio State’s last six games, but it was his fifth career game with 160 receiving yards or more. That’s the most in Buckeye history, surpassing David Boston’s career total of four. He’s also now second in Ohio State history with 12 career 100-yard games, second only to Boston’s school record of 14.

“I haven’t seen everybody across the country, but it’s hard for me to find somebody who is better in the country,” Day said. “I don’t know how he gets on these lists or doesn’t get on these lists, but to me, he’s one of the most special players in the country.”

Another one of those 160-yard performances came last season against Penn State on the road, a day in which Harrison caught 10 passes for 185 yards to help the Buckeyes to a 44-31 win. It remains Harrison's career-high for receiving yards, but he was arguably even better in his second start against the Nittany Lions.

“Big game, I just love big moments playing against a good team,” Harrison said. “They’ve got a great defense.”

Harrison’s quarterback was among those who left Saturday’s game feeling as though his wide receiver deserves consideration for the Heisman Trophy.

“If it’s truly the award that goes to the best player in college football, I don’t see how he’s not in the mix,” McCord said. “What he’s done, especially these last few games, I don’t know if we’ve seen a stretch like that, just how consistent he is, how reliable he is.”

Even with all his accolades and records and hype surrounding his name for awards, Harrison stated that he isn’t driven by individual glories in what is almost certainly his final year at Ohio State.

His top objective, as it stands, is to avenge the past two years’ losses to Michigan and make it to Indianapolis to win a Big Ten title.

“My goal is to beat the team up north this year and get to the Big Ten championship,” Harrison said. “That’s one thing I’ve always wanted to do.”

Harrison and the Buckeyes will try to take another step toward said Big Ten championship when they play Wisconsin next Saturday in Madison, where kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. with NBC televising.

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