STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- The Nittany Lions' defense swarmed and nearly came away with the upset win Saturday night. Nearly.
Instead, they walked off the field silently after falling 31-24 against No. 12 Ohio State in double overtime. The Buckeyes scored two touchdowns in the overtime periods and sacked Christian Hackenberg on the final play.
Penn State's Anthony Zettel returned an interception 40 yards for a touchdown, and the defense held J.T. Barrett to just 74 passing yards.
The Buckeyes showed they were the better team with a strong defense and ground game. Penn State didn't enter the red zone until the final quarter, and Ohio State limited PSU to 16 rushing yards on 31 carries.
With the win, Ohio State improves to 6-1, 3-0 in the Big Ten. Penn State drops to 4-3, 1-3 in the conference.
How the game was won: Ohio State’s defense dominated, as the Nittany Lions just couldn’t get anything started until the final quarter. Penn State finished with 240 total yards -- and didn’t reach the red zone until the final quarter. By then, it was too late. Two controversial calls in the first half also helped Ohio State, as a questionable interception call led to an Ohio State touchdown and a field goal counted despite the snap coming after the play clock had expired.
Gameball goes to: Ohio State's Joey Bosa. He finished with six tackles and 2.5 sacks -- but his final sack was most important of all. He tackled Hackenberg in the backfield to end the game. Ezekiel Elliott and Mike Hull also deserve mentions here, but Bosa's play had the biggest impact.
Playoff implications: The Buckeyes are still in this. For them to truly be considered, though, they’ll have to win out. Nothing is guaranteed, but the College Football Playoff committee might be willing to overlook the Week 2 loss to Virginia Tech – as long as the Buckeyes beat Michigan State in two weeks and then win the Big Ten title.
What’s next: Ohio State will take on Illinois at the Horseshoe next week, while Penn State remains at home against Maryland. The Illini are coming off a surprise win against Minnesota, and the Terrapins are coming off a big loss to Wisconsin.
Shake up the West: The leader going into the weekend might have been exposed as a pretender. A preseason favorite written off after an early loss turned in perhaps the most impressive overall performance in the league all year. Sandwiched between Minnesota’s stumble at Illinois and Wisconsin’s rebirth against Maryland, Nebraska simply handled its business without incident as the West Division came into somewhat clearer focus, as we head into what could be a crazy November in that half of the conference. As Wisconsin’s ability to right the ship proved, it can be dangerous to discount any program in the West after they lose just once. But the Gophers have a murderous slate ahead of them after their bye next week, and falling to the Illini doesn’t leave much reason to consider them a legitimate contender down the stretch now. On the flip side, with some improvements in the passing game, the Badgers are rounding into form offensively and can be a truly terrifying matchup when a defense can’t just focus on Melvin Gordon. Nebraska might not be thrilled to allow 24 points to Rutgers, but it was never really threatened -- and the stage might be set for a huge clash with the Badgers on Nov. 15.
Michigan State keeps rolling: A sluggish start had to be overcome, and an ejection actually needed to be overturned to ensure the roster stayed in one piece, but the Spartans ultimately stayed right on track for the Nov. 8 showdown with Ohio State. Jeremy Langford relentlessly pounded away at Michigan on the ground, the opportunistic defense chipped in another touchdown and Michigan State appeared to stay relatively healthy heading into a bye week that comes at a good time with the de facto East Division title game looming. The Wolverines aren’t the stoutest competition, at least not for a College Football Playoff contender, but Mark Dantonio and his club kept their focus and emotions in check to keep the train rolling along into the final month of the regular season.
Flying Illini: The writing appeared to be on the wall a few weeks ago, but Tim Beckman applied a fresh coat of paint to his tenure with an upset win at home over Minnesota. The Illini coach might not be completely in the clear, given that was just the second Big Ten victory of his career, but he deserves credit for the gutty defensive effort his team turned in and the way the offense has responded without Wes Lunt available at quarterback. Even the loss to Purdue doesn’t look quite so bad as it once did, thanks to improvement from that team as well. And now, with a .500 record through eight weeks, earning a bowl bid isn’t out of the question for Illinois. One win doesn’t magically fix everything, but it might help Beckman buy more time with the program.
Gophers grounded: Minnesota isn’t suddenly going to become a pushover down the stretch, not with its stout defense and a powerful rushing attack led by David Cobb at its disposal. With every team in the West Division having lost a game, it can’t be ruled out quite yet as a contender, either. But if it’s going to navigate a closing stretch that includes home games with Iowa and Ohio State followed by consecutive road trips to Nebraska and Wisconsin, Jerry Kill’s team is going to need to find some consistency through the air. Mitch Leidner has proven his toughness while battling injuries this season, and on occasion Saturday, the quarterback looked more than capable of making difficult throws against the Illini. But he didn’t do it often enough, and completing 12 of 30 passes isn’t going to be good enough for the Gophers late in the year. Finding some answers will no doubt be an emphasis during the upcoming bye week.
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Quarterback J.T. Barrett scored twice in overtime to help No. 13 Ohio State escape with a 31-24 double-overtime victory over Penn State on Saturday night.
The Buckeyes (6-1, 3-0 Big Ten) built a 17-0 lead and were cruising when Penn State's Anthony Zettel intercepted Barrett's pass and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.
In the first overtime, Penn State tailback Bill Belton took a direct snap from the Wildcat formation and scored on a 10-yard run. The Buckeyes countered when Barrett carried two straight times, the first for 17 yards and the second 5 yards for a touchdown.
Penn State was called for a personal foul on the touchdown, giving Ohio State the ball at the 12 to start the second overtime. With a third-and-2 from the 4, Barrett powered through the middle of Penn State's defense for a touchdown. Joey Bosa sacked Penn State's Hackenberg on a fourth-and-5 play to end the game.