Ohio State vs. Penn State score, takeaways: No. 2 Buckeyes battle back late to remain undefeated atop Big Ten

Release No. 2 Ohio State unleashed an avalanche of fourth-quarter points on No. 13 Penn State to take a 44-31 victory in their Big Ten East clash. The game was much closer than the two-score deficit suggests, although it felt like an early blowout.

Penn State started the game with a turnover, but the same red zone issues that plagued Ohio State last week against Iowa were back on display as the Buckeyes were only able to lead by 10 -0 to open. Penn State would erase that lead in the second quarter with a 14-13 advantage going into the locker room; quarterback Sean Clifford recovered from his two early turnovers and tore Ohio State’s secondary apart in the second quarter.

The Buckeyes’ defense made adjustments at halftime, however, and the open spaces for the Nittany Lions’ offense suddenly disappeared. Ohio State took the lead back in the third quarter when another drive ended in the red zone, but it wasn’t until Penn State’s Kaytron Lee scored from 1 yard out with 9:26 left in the fourth quarter. fourth down to give Penn State a pass. 21-16 lead.

Then, everything changed.

Ohio State quickly responded with a three-play drive, capped by TreVeyon Henderson breaking free for a 41-yard rushing score. After a Clifford fumble, Ohio State scored on a 24-yard pass from CJ Stroud to Cade Stover. A 21-16 Penn State lead became a 30-21 Ohio State lead in 66 seconds of game time.

Things would only get worse. Henderson scored his second touchdown and Buckeyes defensive end JT Tuimoloau put the final stamp on things with a pick six to make it 44-24 with 2:42 to play.

Stroud threw for 354 yards but just one touchdown, and Marvin Harrison Jr. 10 passes for 185 yards. Clifford finished with 371 yards and three touchdowns, but his three interceptions and a fumble loss cost the Nittany Lions last.

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Tuimoloau was the undisputed player of the game, finishing with two tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and a pass breakup that led to the game’s first touchdown. A wreck for the Buckeyes defense was a one-man team.

Here are the takeaways from Ohio State’s win.

Tuimoloau is what Ohio State’s defense has been missing

There was a time when every NFL draft seemed to have Ohio State’s pass rusher going early in the first round. Nick Bosa, Joey Bosa and Chase Young terrorized quarterbacks in the Big Ten before moving on for bigger NFL paydays. That hasn’t been the case lately in Columbus.

While the five star talent has continued to arrive, the production has not. Chase Young finished the 2019 season with 16.5 sacks. In 2020 and 2021, Ohio State’s leaders had nine sacks (Jonathan Cooper had 3.5 and Haskell Garrett had 5.5). Sure, the 2020 season was shortened by COVID, but that’s a serious lack of production from a team with so much talent.

Enter defensive coordinator Jim Knowles and Tuimoloau. The former five-star recruit is thriving in Knowles’ defense and it’s on full display today. He deflected the pass on Penn State’s opening possession, ending with a Zach Harrison interception. He sacked the middle man on the next possession, jumping a route on a short snap to pick off the pass himself. (Yes, that’s right, a defensive end jumped a route.) He would end the game by plucking another Clifford pass out of the air and walking into the end zone for a pick six.

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In between, he had two sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble. This was the most impressive performance I have seen from a defensive player this season.

Ohio State’s red zone offense continues to be an issue

The Buckeyes prided themselves on their red zone offense before last year’s game against Iowa. Through the first six games, the Buckeyes scored 27 touchdowns on 29 red zone possessions, an elite turnover rate. But they had not faced an outstanding defense in any of those games. Then Iowa came to town, and Ohio State scored four touchdowns in seven red zone possessions. Against Penn State, they went two of five. That’s six in their last 12, and six field goals and 24 points “left” on the board.

The good news for Ohio State is that he got away with it. Four Penn State turnovers gave the Buckeyes extra possessions. Last week it was because of Iowa’s crime as a crime against humanity.

But what happens if the Buckeyes struggle to finish drives against a good team that doesn’t beat themselves? You know, a team like Michigan, or any potential opponents in the College Football Playoff? If you want a national title contender — Ohio State certainly does, and it is — you have to work on your weaknesses, and he has developed one.

This game will upset Sean Clifford

My thought going into the game was that Penn State was going to have to run the ball well if it wanted to give itself a legitimate chance to pull off the upset. The Nittany Lions didn’t do a good job running the ball (111 yards on 33 carries for 3.4 per), but they still had a chance to win the game.

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Penn State looked like an Air Raid team using the same offense that Baylor ran when Robert Griffin III won the Heisman. He spread Ohio State’s defense from sideline to sideline with pre-snap alignment and found plenty of gaps in a secondary that remains a weak point in Ohio State’s defense. Clifford threw for 371 yards and Parker Washington was a stud with 11 receptions for 179 yards and a touchdown. The Lions were getting thin plays as well.

But the converts killed them. In addition to Clifford’s play, he cost his team dearly with too many mistakes. Out of his three comments, the first one was bad luck, but the second two were firmly on him. As a result of his commotion he kept the ball away from his body as the pocket collapsed.

Clifford gave his team a chance to win the game. It also cost his team a win.

Ohio State doesn’t have what it has at wide receiver

Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave went to the NFL this spring. Jaxon Smith-Njigba has missed almost the entire season (including today) with a toe injury. And it doesn’t matter because Ohio State still has Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka.

Seriously, the Buckeyes are missing the best receiver in the country (Smith-Njigba), and they just replaced him with what might be the best receiver in the country (Harrison). Oh, and if that’s not enough, tight end Cade Stover also had a monster day, catching six passes for 78 yards and a touchdown while opening up a huge hole for TreVeyon Henderson on the 41- he has a rod.


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