A Monday morning grade card on a game in which Ohio State never gave up and Penn State gave up big plays during a stunning fourth quarter comeback that produced a 27-26 win for OSU.
When Ohio State’s offense was good, it was very good. But for 90 percent of the first half and the middle part of the second half, it was not so good.
Seven of the Buckeyes’ first eight drives ended with punts. And the one that didn’t was stopped by an interception that bounced off Rashod Berry’s hands. The only touchdown OSU got in the first half was set up by a Penn State fumble at its own 25-yard line.
But in the second half two 75-yard scoring drives and the game-winning 96-yard touchdown drive almost made up for what happened in the first half.
Quarterback Dwayne Haskins started slowly with some less than stellar blocking in front of him in the first half. But in the second half he was 15 of 23 for 208 yards and two touchdowns. OSU averaged 3.2 yards per carry and had 119 yards rushing against a defense that allowed 245 yards on the ground against lesser competition in games against Illinois and Pittsburgh.
There were a lot of big plays during a comeback from 12 points down with eight minutes to play but maybe none bigger than Binjimen Victor’s 47-yard touchdown catch.
Defense kept Ohio State in the game in the first half when Penn State could have taken a commanding lead if it would have finished three drives with touchdowns instead of field goal attempts (two successful, one miss).
On the downside, the Buckeyes never found a way to contain Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley and gave up a 93-yard touchdown pass, the fourth TD of 78 yards or more they’ve permitted this season.
McSorley accounted for 461 yards total offense – 286 yards passing and two touchdowns and 175 yards rushing, two statistics that emphasize that Ohio State needs more big plays from its back seven on defense than it got Saturday night.
Defensive end Chase Young had a Bosa-esque stat line: two sacks, three tackles for losses, two passes batted down and two quarterback hurries.
Ohio State held Penn State to 3 of 17 on third down conversions, which was a good thing since the Buckeyes were only 4 of 17 in that category.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A-
Punter Drue Chrisman had his busiest game of the year with nine punts and averaged 47.9 yards per kick.
Kicker Sean Nuernberger hit a 33-yard field goal but a face mask penalty made him re-kick from 48 yards away and he missed that attempt.
Winning at Penn State is never easy. Ohio State is 7-6 in 13 trips to Beaver Stadium since 1994. A comeback for the ages for the second year in a row against Penn State raised OSU’s grades considerably. Without that stirring response, things like inconsistent play by the linebackers and defensive backs, a second straight game with 10 penalties and an out of synch offense for much of Saturday night’s game would be viewed with a much more critical eye.