Posted on October 28, 2017, by Travis Pulver
The game was another step in the journey for Penn State. They needed to beat Ohio State to stay on track for the Big Ten Championship and a spot in the CFB Playoffs. Ohio State needed to beat the Nittany Lions to prove they deserve to be in the conversation.For most of the day, it looked like Penn State fans would be going home happy.
But there is a reason why you should never leave a game early just because your team is down or up. You never know what a determined team can pull off in the final six minutes of a game.
When Saquan Barkley took the opening kickoff back 97-yards to put Penn State on top 7-0, it didn’t look good for the Buckeyes. When Parris Campbell fumbled on Ohio State’s opening drive, and Penn State recovered, it didn’t look any better.
Five plays later, DaeSean Hamilton hauled in a 13-yard pass from Trace McSorley for Penn States second touchdown of the day. With the Nittany Lions up 14-0 less than five minutes into the game, it was looking terrible for the Buckeyes.
But then a silver lining emerged as the game continued. Penn State was able to put up some points. But the Ohio State defense was making it harder and harder for the Nittany Lions to sustain drives. Even though Penn State held a 28-17 advantage at the half, the Buckeyes knew the game was within reach.
They just needed to make a few big plays at the right moment.
As it turns out, that moment came early in the fourth quarter after J.T. Barrett fumbled the ball on the Ohio State 42. The defense stuffed the Penn State offense on the next three plays to force a punt on fourth and eleven from the Ohio State 43-yard line—which Denzel Ward blocked!
Two plays later Barrett hooked up with Johnnie Dixon for a 38-yard touchdown to close the gap to 35-27.
Penn State’s offense had not done much the last couple of possessions. But they needed a drive here to give the defense a break– and got one. Seven plays later, McSorley had Penn State with the ball on the seven-yard line, first and goal.
Most of the work to get the ball there was thanks to the passing game. But for some reason, they ran the ball three times. The Ohio State defense held them to a field goal.
“I didn’t manage the game well,” Penn State coach James Franklin said (ESPN). “There’s enough blame to spread around.”
So, with less than six minutes to go, Barrett had to lead the Buckeyes on two scoring drives. That is if the defense could give him the ball back with enough time for a second drive.
It helped that the first one only took 1:22 off the clock. It ended with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Barrett to Johnnie Dixon.
Penn State went the conservative route on the next possession. They handed the ball off to Barkley three times despite his lack of success throughout the game.
Barrett got the ball back a few plays later with three minutes left. He ended up needing only 1:19 of it to connect with Marcus Baugh from 16-yards out. The touchdown gave Ohio State the lead, 39-38.
The defense did its job on Penn State’s final possession to secure the win.
Barrett finished the game 33-39 for 328 yards and four touchdowns and another 95 yards on the ground. He finished the game with 16 consecutive completions. His head coach, Urban Meyer, made it clear what he thought of his quarterback after the game.
“I think the H-word is appropriate after today’s game,” Meyer said (ESPN).
The Ohio State defense held Barkley to 44 yards on 21 carries. Most of it he gained on a 36-yard touchdown run in the first half. He averaged -.5 yards before contact on the day.
Ohio State is now in control of the Big Ten East Division. Penn State will now have to run the table and hope Michigan State and Michigan can defeat the Buckeyes.
The Nittany Lions will take on Michigan State next weekend. The Buckeyes will face Iowa.