Penn State used 17 unanswered points in the second half to force overtime against Ohio State, but the No. 13 Buckeyes rallied to win, 31-24, in Happy Valley on Saturday night. Despite falling behind 17-0, the Nittany Lions managed to put a scare into Ohio State before Joey Bosa clinched the Buckeyes with a sack on fourth down in double overtime.
Here are three thoughts on Ohio State’s overtime squeaker over Penn State:
1. J.T. Barrett is still a redshirt freshman
Ohio State didn’t need Barrett to do a whole lot early, with the defense rolling and the ground game functioning as the focal point against the Nittany Lions. But defensive tackle Anthony Zettel’s critical pick-six with 13:37 left in the third quarter gave Penn State some much-needed energy on a night when the Nittany Lions were dragging offensively. Barrett’s second interception with 13:34 to play in the game reignited the Penn State crowd.
The redshirt freshman had been close to flawless in Ohio State’s four previous games, but he’s still not quite an experienced vet, and it showed in a hostile environment -- it likely didn’t help that Barrett sprained his knee at the end of the first half, according to coach Urban Meyer. Barrett finished the night 12-of-19 for 74 yards, a touchdown and those two picks, but he used his legs to make things happen in crunch time. He rushed for touchdowns in the first and second overtime periods and had 75 yards on the ground for the night.
2. Penn State’s offense is a work in progress
Christian Hackenberg (31-of-49, 224 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions) had thrown for just one touchdown in his past 172 passing attempts, a streak that spanned almost five full games. But on that 173rd attempt he connected with Saeed Blacknall for a 24-yard score to cut the Ohio State lead down to 17-14 with 11:08 to play.
The Nittany Lions’ offensive line hasn’t opened up many holes or given Hackenberg much time to throw this season. The offensive line issues plagued Penn State against Saturday as it gained 11 yards in the third quarter.
Far too often Penn State’s drives looked like the physical manifestation of that noise used for testing the emergency broadcast system on TV, but the Nittany Lions did enough to get in field goal range late in the fourth quarter and tie the game on a 31-yard Sam Ficken field goal. After reaching the end zone on their first overtime drive, they couldn’t replicate the feat in double overtime.
3. Let’s appreciate Joey Bosa
Ohio State’s pass rusher extraordinaire is a little bit unreal. He can move around the field, drop into coverage, edge rush, keep containment, chase down a ball carrier and generally make things difficult on an opposing quarterback, and Christian Hackenberg got quite a taste of that Saturday night. Bosa overpowered his blocker and drove right into Hackenberg on the last play of the second overtime, knocking Hackenberg to the turf and sealing the win for the Buckeyes.
Bosa doesn’t get the hype of some of the other defensive linemen around the country, but he’s consistently as good as anyone else out there. He anchors a Buckeyes unit that has a lot of speed and strength and was ranked 19th in defensive S&P+ coming into the game against the Nittany Lions.