5 Answers: Penn State at Ohio State

Ohio State continued to struggle on third down and ceased its defensive scoring trend against Penn State. The Buckeyes received a boost from the return of a veteran wide receiver and saw a glimpse of the future at linebacker. Neither quarterback made a game-changing mistake.

1. Can the Buckeye defense get off the field on third down?

This was among several recent or season-long problems to continue to manifest themselves in Ohio State's 20-13 loss to Penn State on Saturday.

The Nittany Lions entered the game 96th in the nation with a third-down conversion rate of 36.5 but went 6 for 13 (46.2 percent) against the Buckeyes. That number would have looked even worse if Ohio State had not improved in the second half.

Penn State was 5 for 7 in the opening half while piling up 254 total yards and scoring all 20 of its points. The Lions had not scored more than 19 points in one game at Ohio Stadium since 1963.

2. What will DeVier Posey do in his season debut?

In his first game back from serving consecutive five-game suspensions, the senior wide receiver made his presence felt early by going up the field on a scramble drill and getting open for a 39-yard gain on Ohio State's first possession. In the second quarter, he made a spectacular one-handed grab for 18 yards to convert a third-and-long and keep the Buckeyes' first touchdown drive alive.

"I felt like 10 weeks have been the oddest feeling of not playing, so it felt pretty normal to be out there with the guys," Posey said. "I was just really excited. I'm kind of mad it didn't turn out the way we wanted to, but I feel like the young guys learned a lot this year."

He finished the day with four catches for 66 yards and felt like he was where he was supposed to be.

"It's football," he said. "I've been playing since kindergarten every single fall. It's just a game, man. A lot of people build it up, but when you really get inside the lines it's still football. You don't want to build it up more than it was. I felt like I did a good job this week not hyping myself up too much and just understanding this is what I was born to do."

3. How will the fill-ins fare?

As it turned out, only one of Ohio State's four questionable starters missed the game. Johnathan Hankins played his usual total of snaps on the defensive line while J.B. Shugarts started and went the whole way at right tackle. Philly Brown returned from an ankle injury to made one catch for 10 yards but dropped a crucial deep throw from Miller in the fourth quarter.

Hankins has seven tackles, including one for loss, and was instrumental in a goal line stand in the third quarter. Shugarts picked up a crucial false start penalty in the fourth quarter and gave up a sack early in the game.

That leaves freshman Ryan Shazier, who stepped in for senior Andrew Sweat at linebacker and made a game-high 15 tackles.

"It's kind of bittersweet," he said. "I had the best game I could and we ended up losing. I tried to finish out with a bang for the seniors. Andrew Sweat couldn't play and I look after him and I was trying my best to play for him."

4. Which quarterback will make the fewest mistakes?

Miller finished the day 7 for 17 passing for 83 yards and a 7-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jake Stoneburner. He also ran 18 times for 105 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown. He had a turnover-free day but missed a couple of open receivers and sometimes lost his poise in the face of pressure in the pocket.

Matt McGloin was somewhat erratic for Penn State but completed 10 of 18 passes for 88 yards, sometimes taking advantage of sizable cushions from the Ohio State defense. He also threw an interception on a deflected pass that led to the Buckeyes' first touchdown.

5. Can the Penn State offense outscore the Ohio State defense?

The Nittany Lions sliced through the Buckeyes with a five-play, 80-yard touchdown drive to open the game and piled up 20 points by halftime.

"I really don't know," defensive coordinator Jim Heacock said when asked what went wrong for his team. "We weren't tackling. We didn't play well. I can't come up with one thing.

"It's Senior Day so you would expect emotions to be high, and I thought we were prepared and our guys really worked her for this game but we didn't do well enough."

Stephfon Green finished that drive with a 39-yard jaunt straight up the middle and later added a 4-yard scoring run, giving Penn State 10 touchdowns in 10 games at Ohio Stadium since the Nittany Lions joined the Big Ten in 1993.

The Ohio State defense stayed stuck on eight scores during that timespan.

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