Posted on September 30, 2018, by Travis Pulver
This game had the potential to be a very good win for Penn State. The Nittany Lions controlled the game in the first half; you could even say they dominated it—except on the scoreboard. Ohio State came back and even took the lead for a time. But that just gave the Nittany Lions a chance to prove they could overcome a little adversity, which they did.
With eight minutes to play, they took what appeared to be an insurmountable 12-point lead. As well as their defense had been playing, surely that would be enough—right?
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It didn’t take Ohio State long to narrow the gap. On the Buckeyes next drive, Dwayne Haskins connected with Binjimen Victor on what ended up being a 47-yard touchdown reception to cap off a three play, 75-yard drive. But with a five-point lead, it was still Penn State’ s game to lose. All they had to do was take as much time off the clock as they could and/or score again.
But they couldn’t do it.
Penn State earned one first down on their next drive before punting. But their defense had been playing well throughout the game. Surely, they would be able to hold now when the team needed them to most—especially with the Buckeyes starting their drive back up on their own four-yard line.
But eight plays later, Haskins connected with K.J. Hill on a 24-yard touchdown pass to give Ohio State the lead, 26-21.
“That sideline was not giving up,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said after the game. “There was a time, now, you looked up and saw those white pom-poms and that whole deal and thought that was over.”
The Nittany Lions were far from out of it, though. There were still a couple of minutes left, and they just needed to get into field goal range. At first, it looked promising for the Nittany Lions. But then on fourth and five from the Ohio State 43, Penn State head coach James Franklin called for the ball to be handed off to Miles Sanders.
Sanders had not been having a great day. On 15 carries he had only gained 45 yards. He was stuffed in the backfield for a two-yard loss. After the game, Franklin took responsibility for the call:
“They changed the look [on defense], so we called a timeout and had some discussions. We obviously didn’t make the right call in that situation, and that’s on me, nobody else…We have called something similar like that in other situations, and it broke for a big play. But that’s on me.”
Both teams had entered the game undefeated and ranked in the top ten. While the loss doesn’t necessarily exclude the Nittany Lions from the playoff hunt, it will make it very hard for them to get in. They’ll need Ohio State to lose twice or for the other major conferences not to have multiple teams in contention.
Penn State will have another tough one on their hands when they face Michigan State at home in a couple of weeks. Ohio State will face Indiana at home next weekend.