LIVE BLOG: No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 8 Penn State
It's the third straight season Ohio State and Penn State have squared off in a Top Ten match-up and the outcome Saturday in their noon kickoff at Ohio Stadium will decide the Big Ten East and shape, or perhaps re-shape, the College Football Playoff picture.
The No. 2 Buckeyes are 18-point favorites to dispatch the No. 8 Nittany Lions, who could take the spread as an insult, or maybe a compliment given that no opponent has come closer than 24 points of beating OSU this season.
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K.J. Hamler a good return to the 40 and Penn State faces its first third down at the 49. Not much imagination there on third-and-one, but the Lions get it up the middle. That's going to be crucial. The ability to sustain drives in manageable situations.
Another key for the Lions is to stay out of negative-yardage plays on first down. Buckeyes excel at putting teams behind the down and distance. That's when Chase Young goes quarterback hunting.
Clifford need a tick more time to get some starch on that one. But it didn't quite have enough and Pete Werner breaks it up. Lions will punt from midfield.
Buckeyes stick with Garrett Wilson as punt returner, despite his muff and turnover last week at Rutgers.
There's the first, "J.K. all day," mention from Gus Johson. It won't the last, presumably, since it rhymes.
After Dobbins' first down, OSU faces its third down with Fields corralled on the QB draw. Buckeyes go back to the draw, or Fields bailed on the play, but if so it was a nice run for a first down at the 50.
Not surprised to see OSU go after John Reid in the secondary. He's vulnerable..
Penn State had a spy for Fields on that play, but he missed the tackle. Shame on you, Jan Johnson.
Second, "J.K. all day," from Gus. OSU at the 7, ready to land the first blow, and there it is with Dobbins completing the 13-play, 91-yard march.
Misleading to say this has been a rush-first drive. It has, statistically and officially, but the biggest plays were two Fields' scrambles. That's going to be the challenge for Penn State, to coin a phrase, "all day."
Fields' 16-yard run on third-and-11 from midfield was the key play. He has a Heisman stage today, and he appears committed to maximizing it.
True story, stop me if you've heard it....Chase Young with a sack of Clifford.
Buckeyes take over at the Penn State 45 and are moving again. Fields hits K.J. Hill, Garrett Wilson and Austin Mack. OSU now inside the 5.
Exhibit B for Justin Fields' Heisman candidacy. He scores, but wait a minute, the ball is close to being out before he crossed the goal line. Officials will take a look at this one.
Penn State gets the reversal and so it's oxygen hose gets uncoiled for the moment. Lions first down at the 20.
Clifford is a gutty kid. Playing very motivated from that high school snub by Urban. Hitting some nice throws here to move the Lions down the field, but this is where the yards get considerably tougher.
Penn State obviously likes the Pat Frieremuth matchup on Pete Werner. May not be a reflection on Werner as much as it is a belief in Frieremuth.
Third-down pass goes high, but catchable, and goes incomplete. Penn State will punt. Clifford took a big shot from Robert Landers.
OSU sets up at its 10. Justin Fields powers through a tackle in the backfield to convert on third down and hits Chris Olave to the Penn State 35. Looks like the Buckeyes are undaunted by the fumble that kept them from leading 14-0. Appear bound to restore that score soon.
Thayer Munford's holding penalty and a subsequent sack he allows to Yetur Gross Matos blows up the threat and OSU will punt.
Lions hanging in, by a thread it seems, but hanging in, nonetheless. Going to have to play turnover-free, which won't be easy against this rampaging Ohio State defense.
Third-and-4 pass goes incomplete. Really had no chance in face of OSU blitz. Now Buckeyes will get it with good field position.
Very short punt, taken on the run by Garrett Wilson, will give Buckeyes the ball inside Lions territory.
That's the pressure OSU puts on a team, not only to keep up on the scoreboard, but to move the ball enough not to give the Ohio State offense a short field. This will be a huge series for Penn State to keep it at 7-0. If not, desperation will start to set in.
Beautiful throw from Fields on third-and-7 to Austin Mack. Buckeyes moving into scoring territory.
Another third down, but this time Penn State calls the right defense and throws Dobbins for a 3-yard loss. Ryan Day will go for it, and while 105,000 in the Stadium saw that quarterback draw coming, Penn State didn't. Easy conversion and a touchdown likely coming soon.
It takes OSU four plays to get the score, with Dobbins doing the honors from the 1-yard line. He gets his second TD and his third, "J.K., all day," kiss from Gus and the Buckeyes have a 14-0 lead with two minutes left in the half.
It's closer on the scoreboard than it actually is. Yardage is 248-64 for OSU, with Penn State punting from its 24 with 1:16 left.
Now we'll see how stout that Penn State secondary is.
Chris Olave has, but then loses, a TD pass and the Buckeyes stall thereafter and will settle for the 14-0 halftime lead.
Second half starts and OSU playing like it knows the score should be more than it is. J.K. Dobbins is powering a drive that's take a toll on Penn State's defensive numbers and positioning the Buckeyes to score again.
Watch your back, Joe Burrow. Justin Fields is coming for you.
Fields drops a perfect throw over the defense and into K.J. Hill's arms for a 24-yard TD pass and it's now 21-0 just 3:29 into the third quarter.
Lions making a bit of progress, but Clifford takes a big hit and is down. That's a crippling blow, given how well he has been playing.
Penn State threatening to crack 100 yards total offense.
That 6-yard pass puts the Lions at 102 yards with 9 minutes left in the third quarter.
OSU has 330.
Backup quarterback Will Levis comes in for Clifford and gives the Lions some energy. He bulls for a first down, then Journey Brown does the rest with two carries, the latter from 18 yards out for Penn State's first TD.
So, with 8:19 left in the third, it's 21-7.
First play after the TD, Micah Parsons forces a fumble from Dobbins and Penn State recovers at the OSU 12. Levis zips it to Frieremuth to the 1-yard line and powers in on the next play.
In less than a minute, Ohio State has gone from a 21-0 lead to a 21-14 dog fight.
At least the narrative that the Buckeyes haven't faced adversity won't be true anymore.
Oh, boy...Fields carries for a first down, but then the ball comes out and Penn State recovers. Very close call here on the replay. Called a fumble on the field, and that could be huge.
Call stays with the original on-field decision and Penn State will have it at the OSU 35. Levis still running the show for the Lions.
He carries three times and the Lions are in business at the 11, but Journey Brown drops a second-down throw that might have gone for six and his team will settle for a 42-yard field goal attempt.
Jake Pinegar hits it and the score tightens to 21-17.
Hmmm, play call looked fine there on third-and-4, but Fields handed it to Dobbins and he gets stopped at the 49, two yards shy. The keep looked open for the first down.
Levis and the Lions back on the field, but 89 yards away from leading.
Levis fumbles the snap and Young takes him down at the 1.
That torpedos any chance Penn State had of moving in front and forces a punt from the 3, which will happen on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Master Teague struggled on his first series, but OSU goes back to him three straight plays to start this drive from the Lions' 44.
That and a Dobbins run moves the ball to the 28, where Fields hits Olave between two defenders for the touchdown and some much-needed separation, 28-17.