Ohio State led all the way but Penn State refused to go away when the Buckeyes came away with a 38-25 win over the Nitttany Lions on Saturday night in a match-up of Big Ten East division powers at Beaver Stadium.
OSU led by as many as 18 points, 21-3, in the first half but saw the Nittany Lions cut that lead to 21-13 early in the third quarter. The lead grew to as many as 19 points, 38-19, with nine minutes left in the game before OSU went scoreless the rest of the way.
Quarterback Justin Fields completed 28 of 34 passes for 318 yards and four touchdown passes. Two of those TD passes went to Chris Olave and the other two went to tight end Jeremy Ruckert.
Garrett Wilson caught 11 passes for 111 yards and Olave had 7 catches for 120 yards.
OSU outgained Penn State 526 yards to 308 yards. Master Teague gained 110 yards on 23 carries and scored a touchdown to lead the Buckeyes’ ground game.
Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford completed 16 of 28 passes for 264 yards and three touchdowns. The Nittany Lions, whose top two running backs are out for the season, had only 50 yards rushing.
The win was the second in two games, both Big Ten games, for No. 3 Ohio State. Penn State, which came into the game ranked No. 18, dropped to 0-2 overall and in the Big Ten.
Fields was exceptionally accurate for a second week in a row. He was 20 of 21 passing in a 52-17 win over Nebraska last week.
Fields attributed his accuracy to hard work.
“I think it’s the work in the offseason, we had a lot of time working with Coach Day individually. The receivers and me being on the same page, that’s why we’ve had so much success right now,” he said. “I worked my butt off trying to get better in every aspect of the game and it’s paying off for me.
“We knew it was a big game coming into it. But, as Coach Day says, we take it one week at a time. We did a lot of stuff better but to be honest I’m just happy we won the game.”
Ohio State coach Ryan Day said, “Overall we played physical, We played tough. It wasn’t clean but our guys just kept swinging away. We had some adversity along the way but we kept playing hard. It was a big step forward. To win this game on the road was huge. But there is still a lot of work to be done.
“Our defensive line created a lot of disruption. Offensively, I thought we got off to a good start and had good balance. I thought we did a good job of controlling the ball and Justin was excellent. He was on it. He was on it. He made some really big plays,” he said.
This was Ohio State’s sixth win in the last seven times it has played at Penn State. “Overall, it was a gutsy win on the road. It’s hard to win here. I’m proud of our guys,” Day said.
Ohio State led 21-6 at halftime after a first half that was for the most part the Buckeyes dominating the Nittany Lions but ended on a weird note that let Penn State hit a 50-yard field goal with no time on the clock.
OSU needed only three plays after the opening kickoff to go up 7-0. Wilson started it with a 62-yard run on an end around on the Buckeyes’ first offensive play. Two plays later, Teague scored on a 4-yard touchdown run.
The next time Ohio State had the ball it scored again to make it 14-0 with 8:39 left in the first quarter.
It took OSU only five plays to get its second touchdown after it stopped Penn State when it went for it on fourth down at its own 45-yard line. Four of the five Ohio State plays on the drive were passes, including a 26-yard pass from Fields to Chris Olave for the touchdown.
A 31-yard field goal by Jake Pinegar cut the lead to make it 14-3 late in the first quarter.
Blake Haubeil missed a 20-yard field goal after Ohio State had moved to Penn State’s 3-yard line on its first possession of the second quarter. He had made 11 field goals in a row, dating back to last season and was dealing with a groin injury, Day said in his postgame Zoom conference.
Penn State couldn’t take advantage of that miss, though. The Nittany Lion did not have a first down in the second quarter, going three and out on all three of its possessions in that quarter.
OSU took a 21-3 lead on a 10-yard scoring pass from Fields to tight end Jeremy Ruckert with 2:23 left in the first half.
The Buckeyes had one more possession in the first half and thought they had run out the clock when Fields took a knee on fourth down.
But the officials ruled there was still one second left on the clock when Fields knelt down, which allowed Penn State’s long-range field goal kicker Jordan Stout to kick a 50-yard field goal as time ran out.
Penn State made it a one-score game, 21-13, on its first possession of the second half on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Clifford to Dotson.
Ohio State answered with a 49-yard touchdown pass from Fields to Olave to make it 28-13.
A 22-yard field goal by Dominic DiMaccio, kicking in place of the injured Haubeil, pushed the lead to 31-13 with 1:02 left in the third quarter.
Another Clifford to Dotson touchdown pass 30 seconds into the fourth quarter cut the lead to 31-19. OSU responded with a 1-yard touchdown pass from Fields to Ruckert, which made it 38-19 with nine minutes to play.
Dotson’s third touchdown catch of the night cut the lead to 38-25 with 6:27 to play. Marcus Hooker’s interception with 3:35 to play allowed OSU to run enough time off the clock that Penn State wasn’t going to be able to perform any last minute miracles.