November 28, 2021

Ohio State hosted the Penn State Nittany Lions yesterday in a battle for bragging rights in the Big Ten Conference. Penn State came into this game having suffered a brutal loss to the Fighting Illini in eight overtimes, and many have speculated if James Franklin would seek to leave Happy Valley for a more enticing job. Ohio State has been surging as of late as they have buried their opponents. A question mark leading into this matchup was the status of Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford, who saw limited action versus Illinois due to an injury from their previous game. Another thought was how freshman quarterback C.J. Stroud would fare against a more talented and organized defense to which he has not been accustomed to seeing.

Out of the gate, the Penn State defense played smash-mouth football. The Nittany Lion defense consistently delivered hard hits to Ohio State receivers. On a third and short play, Stroud tossed a short pass to tight end Jeremy Ruckert, who was hit by multiple defenders and lost the ball. Penn State did not have the ball for long, as Buckeye cornerback Marcus Williamson caused a fumble which was recovered by defensive tackle Haskell Garrett. The momentum of a football game can change on a dime, meaning one play can change the entirety of a game. These plays had set the stage for what a sports fan would call a “dog fight.”

Ohio State was unable to move the ball much during their second drive, as Penn State created pressure as Stroud could only throw quick and short passes. TreVeyon Henderson had no room to run to the outside part of the field as Penn State had strength in numbers to contain the talented running back. As a result, Penn State forced Ohio State to punt the ball. A mix of running and throwing the ball allowed Penn State to get into a rhythm. Sean Clifford was slinging passes which resulted in big gains. The drive resulted in a  five– yard touchdown pass to tight end Brenton Strange. At that point, Penn State took the first shot as they took an early 7-0 lead over the Buckeyes. Ohio State would respond with a field goal by Noah Ruggles, which made it a 7-3 game.

At times, Ohio State’s offense was not in sync as they had a few false start penalties that caused them to have unsuccessful drives. Ohio State defense made Penn State pay the price, as on a 4th and five play near the middle of the field, Sean Clifford got sacked. Ohio State capitalized on their next drive, as Stroud connected with a wide-open Chris Olave for a 38-yard touchdown pass and turned the game around as Ohio State took a 10-7 lead. Ohio State’s defense continued to swarm Sean Clifford and forced a fumble that was recovered by defensive end Jerron Cage for a 57-yard touchdown. The Buckeyes lead expanded to 17-10 as the crowd went wild,  some time remained in the half, as Penn State kicker Jordan Stout knocked a 47-yard field goal through the uprights as time expired to make it a 17-13 Buckeyes lead at the half.

In the third quarter, the Buckeyes defense got called for a targeting penalty as a defender made contact to the head of Sean Clifford as he slid to the ground on a QB run. Wide receiver Jahan Dotson scored on a Two-yard run which tied the score at 17-17. Ohio State kicker Noah Ruggles would connect on a 23-yard field goal to make it a 20-17 lead. TreVeyon Henderson finally got going as he maneuvered his way to the outside and was taken down near the three-yard line for a huge run. TreVeyon Henderson finished the drive on a one-yard rushing touchdown and pushed the lead to 27-17 in favor of Ohio State. Penn State would score as running back Keyvone Lee ran for a one-yard rushing touchdown, the lead was now 27-24 Ohio State.

Sean Clifford made a mistake late in the game, as he had underthrown his receiver and intercepted by Cameron Brown. Noah Ruggles would drain two more field goals to take the lead to 33-24 Ohio State. That would be the final score of the game. The main difference in this game was the Ohio State defense, although they allowed 361 passing yards, they allowed only 33 rushing yards and forced Penn State to be one-dimensional. Ohio State’s main contributors C.J. Stroud, TreVeyon Henderson, and Jaxson Smith- Njigba would turn in solid performances. Ohio State will look to continue their hot streak, as they will head on the road to face a weak Nebraska team.

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