ANALYSIS: 5 things to know about Ohio State’s win over Penn State

COLUMBUS — After Ohio State knocked Penn State from the ranks of the unbeaten Saturday with a defense-first effort, Ryan Day credited a raucous home fans.

“I thought first off the crowd was tremendous,” the coach of the Buckeyes said of the 105,506 who packed Ohio Stadium. “When the ‘Shoe’s rocking like that, it’s a difference-maker. I thought our players fed off it. You could tangibly see they just fed off the crowd.”

Here are five things to know about the Buckeyes’ 20-12 win:

1. Marvin Harrison Jr. torched the Nittany Lions again.

The Ohio State junior was targeted 16 times and caught a career-high 11 passes for 162 yards and the touchdown that put the game away in the fourth quarter.

Last season, the Philadelphia native caught 10 passes for a career-high 185 yards in State College.

Saturday he became the first Buckeye to surpass 160 yards receiving in a game five times, surpassing the record previously held by David Boston.

“I think he was open on most of those 16 plays,” he was targeted, Day said. “He showed up in a big spot today again. I haven’t seen everybody play across the country but it’s hard for me to find anyone who’s better in the country.”

2. The Ohio State defense had another strong afternoon.

The renaissance continued for the Silver Bullets, who held Penn State to 240 total yards, including 3.5 per play.

The Nittany Lions managed only 49 yards rushing after averaging over 200 per game in the first half of the season.

Defensive coordinator Jim Knowles said after the game he wanted his unit not only to outplay the Nittany Lions offense but also their defense, which entered the game No. 1 in the nation in yards allowed and No. 2 in points allowed.

“They make one play, we’ve got to make two,” Knowles said. “If they make two, we gotta make three. So it’s a sense of maturity, leadership. Maybe a little chip on their shoulder, and we’ve done a lot of work to have everyone have faith in us.”

Penn State averaged 44.3 points per game in its first six contests.

3. Neither quarterback lit it up.

But Kyle McCord was much better for the Buckeyes than counterpart Drew Allar.

McCord, who played his high school ball with Harrison at Philadelphia St. Joseph’s Prep, completed 22 of 35 passes for 286 yards and a touchdown. He was sacked twice but kept the Buckeyes’ offense moving even if it struggled to finish drives.

Allar, a first-year starter from Medina, Ohio, had his worst game as the Ohio State defense harassed him into 24 incomplete passes on 42 throws. He was sacked four times and finished with 191 yards passing and a touchdown.

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

4. It could have been worse for the Nittany Lions.

Ohio State moved the ball at times in the second half but came away without points.

Most notably, the Buckeyes were turned away on third-and-goal from the 1 and then fourth-and-goal from the 2 in the third quarter.

The Buckeyes also settled for a field goal on their opening possession after making it to the Penn State 15 and another in the fourth quarter after getting to the Nittany Lions’ 19.

“I just think we could have been a little more explosive, and certainly not finishing that drive hurt us and made it a closer game than it should have been, but whatever the game is, the goal is to win the game,” Day said. “And the more confidence we have in our defense that allows us to play a couple of different ways.”

Penn State had 16 total yards after halftime until a last-ditch, 73-yard touchdown drive against a defense trying to avoid getting beaten over the top.

5. The Buckeyes were a bit short-handed.

They went into the game without starting running back TreVeyon Henderson, who has missed three games in a row with an undisclosed injury, and No. 2 receiver Emeka Egbuka, who left last week’s win at Purdue with an ankle injury.

Their absence was felt as the Buckeyes averaged 1.9 yards per rush and 4.8 yards per play, but McCord was able to lean on Harrison to get Ohio State through it.

“I thought there were times we moved the ball OK,” Day said. “We didn’t run the ball enough. We didn’t get enough explosive plays. We certainly could use Tre and Emeka back, but we had enough to win.”

Starting cornerback Denzel Burke also missed the game, but junior Jordan Hancock and true freshman Jermaine Mathews Jr. played well in his place.

“I said (before the game) the kid’s got moxie,” Knowles said. “I don’t think he knew how big the moment was, and that’s not a bad thing. He just went out to played. He made some tackles, and he didn’t flinch.”

Penn State also suffered a major injury when star defensive end Chop Robinson went down in the second quarter.

Stat of the game

Penn State was 1 for 16 on third down.

Game ball

Harrison is the obvious choice again. He not only had a career day but came through in the clutch with eight catches that went for first downs.


Ohio State at Wisconsin, 7:30 p.m., NBC, 1410

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