Ohio State won its 25th straight Big Ten game with a 33-24 victory over Penn State on Saturday night.
Freshman running back TreVeyon Henderson rushed for 152 yards and one touchdown on a career-high 28 carries, while fifth-year senior defensive tackle Jerron Cage returned a fumble 57 yards for a touchdown.
North Carolina graduate transfer kicker Noah Ruggles also added four field goals on as many attempts for the Buckeyes, proving to be the difference in a matchup that was closer than many expected after the Nittany Lions lost their last two games heading in.
With that said, local and national college football analysts shared some of their thoughts on the game, and BuckeyesNow has compiled some of the best reactions below:
Bill Bender, Sporting News
“Should the Buckeyes be ranked in the top four? If we're going by talent and the ‘eye test,’ then maybe. Ohio State, however, lost to Oregon and does not have a top-10 victory like Cincinnati. The Buckeyes did earn a victory against a ranked opponent by knocking off Penn State 33-24 at Ohio Stadium.
“C.J. Stroud finished with 305 passing yards and a TD, and freshman running back TreVeyon Henderson added 152 rushing yards and a TD. It was a three-point game heading into the fourth quarter. The Buckeyes might not like their spot in the initial rankings, but victories against Michigan State and Michigan would do the trick. A one-loss Big Ten champion would leap-frog the Bearcats. Would it do the same to the Ducks? “
Stewart Mandel, The Athletic
“Many of you (myself included) assume Ohio State (7-1, 4-1) will end up in the top four at the end, but I’d be surprised if it comes this week.
“The Buckeyes earned their first Top 25 win Saturday night, and while it was tougher than expected, there’s no shame in beating Penn State 33-24. Nittany Lions QB Sean Clifford threw for 361 yards, but the Buckeyes also sacked him four times, picked him off once and forced a fumble that giant defensive tackle Jerron Cage returned for a touchdown.
“But there’s no good reason the committee should rank one-loss Ohio State ahead of undefeated Michigan State. Nor should it ignore 7-1 Oregon’s Week 2 win in Columbus. The Ducks (7-1, 4-1 Pac-12), which handled Colorado 52-29 on Saturday, have virtually the same resume as Ohio State.
“Both hold three victories over .500-or-better opponents, but Oregon has the best win … and it happens to be against the Buckeyes. Honestly, the committee should be able to settle that debate before their first snack break.”
Adam Rittenberg, ESPN
“Defensive end Tyreke Smith's return from injury is paying off, as he had a sack, a forced fumble and a quarterback hurry to help trigger Ohio State's pass rush against Penn State. Along with Zach Harrison, J.T. Tuimoloau and others, Smith is helping the Buckeyes generate more consistent pressure than they did earlier this season.
“Penn State provided some clues on how to slow down Ohio State's offense, although the Buckeyes still gained 466 yards. Finishing drives will be a focal point for Ryan Day's team as it travels to Nebraska this week. The Buckeyes haven't lost a road game under Day.”
Kyle Boone, CBS Sports
“During its six-game winning streak, Ohio State's explosive offense has helped propel it into the conversation as one of the most fun – and arguably one of the best – teams in college football. But Saturday it was the defense that stood tall. The Buckeyes held Penn State and its ground attack, which was averaging nearly 120 yards rushing per game, to 33 yards on 29 total carries for the game.
“Through the air, Clifford had a huge stat line with 361 yards passing but he tossed an interception and the team gave up two fumbles including one from Clifford which was returned for a score. Clifford was under duress throughout the game and it hampered his decision-making throughout to the benefit of Ohio State. OSU finished with four sacks and eight tackles for loss.”
Casey Smith, The Lantern
“Coming into Saturday’s game, graduate kicker Noah Ruggles had kicked four field goals in the previous four weeks combined. He matched that total against Penn State.
“Ohio State’s offense made it easy for Ruggles, though. The Buckeyes would drive down to the red zone and fail to punch it in, ending 4-of-6 red zone trips in field goals.
“Down the stretch, Ruggles’ role became increasingly important, as the improved play from both defenses made points at a premium. The last two drives, not counting the end-of-the-game kneel downs, ended in 25- and 26-yard field goals to give the Buckeyes a two-score lead and end the game.
“Ruggles has yet to miss a kick this season, now 11-for-11 on field goals and 47-for-47 on extra points.”
Phil Harrison, Buckeyes Wire
“You have to give Penn State a lot of credit for making Ohio State work for every yard and point that it earned. There were only a handful of big plays, with most of the quick-strike passing plays we’ve seen over the course of the season kept to a minimum.
“The Nittany Lions have a scheme that can bottle things up as the field shrinks and that showed tonight. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Buckeyes kept shooting themselves in the foot with several false start penalties, but sometimes a good team has a tendency to make you look a little disjointed though.”
Bill Landis, The Athletic
“The Buckeyes, who had run roughshod over Akron, Rutgers, Maryland and Indiana over the last month, came back down to earth a bit. They struggled to run the ball, especially in short-yardage situations but hit a few key big plays to balance things out.
“The defense was inconsistent but came up with a handful of big stops, scored a momentum-swinging touchdown just before halftime and overcame some struggles on third down to slam the door when needed.
“Without that defensive touchdown — a 57-yard scoop and score from 305-pound defensive tackle Jerron Cage — and Ruggles going 4-for-4 on his field goal attempts, one-loss Ohio State would have effectively had its national title hopes washed away by a team that lost to Illinois last week.
“Win your clunkers, they say.”
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