12 Games Of Christmas: Penn State

In celebration of the holiday season as well as Ohio State’s appearance in the College Football Playoff, we’re counting down the 12 wins that made it possible, including the toughest win of the year on the road at Penn State.

Oct. 25: No. 13 Ohio State 31, Penn State 24 (OT)
State College, Pa.
Box Score

Quick Recap: What looked like it might be an Ohio State blowout – the Buckeyes held a 17-0 lead 26 minutes into the game – instead became the tightest game of the year. A 10-yard run by Ezekiel Elliott after an early Vonn Bell interception and a 1-yard pass from J.T. Barrett to Jeff Heuerman gave OSU the lead at halftime, but Barrett threw a pick-six to Anthony Zettel on the first drive of the second half. The offense couldn’t get untracked the rest of the way and the defense finally broke in the fourth quarter, giving up 10 points including the tying field goal with nine seconds to play. Penn State scored to start overtime, but going into Penn State’s student section, Barrett led a pair of three-play TD drives that gave OSU the lead. On the Nittany Lions’ ensuing possession, Joey Bosa posted his famous walkoff sack, pushing Akeel Lynch into Christian Hackenberg for a fourth-down, game-ending stop. OSU led the yardage battle just 293-240 and held Penn State to 16 total rushing yards in the win.

Urban Said: “Credit to our opponent. They played their tails off. They outplayed us up front, I think. I was a little upset with the way we played up front and we've got to get that fixed. That has always been a strength of Ohio State football and has been for quite awhile. Without making too big a deal of it, we need to evaluate that and play better as we hit this stretch run here. J.T. Barrett had a sprained knee but came in and continued to do what he did. Even on the dropback passes, he was either covered, sacked or pressured, but he pulled through a couple plays and made some big plays for us.

“Much improved on defense against a very quality quarterback. Joe Bosa, kind of at the end ... The thing about Joey Bosa - you get a sack like that, there's also interior pressure and not allowing to step up. We'll take it. A great win against a quality opponent in one of the toughest environments that you'll have. We'll certainly get on a plane tonight and regroup, but enjoy the win. Regroup as we continue on.

“I was very impressed (with our resolve). This team puts in a lot of work. I knew they were going to pick that side to go down in there when we play defense first and then they go score, and then we had to come back. That was one of the toughest – you know, to see your freshmen quarterback do that. I mean, it was loud. I actually pulled my ear(phone) off a couple times to hear how loud it was. It can't get louder. To nut it up and get it like that and get it done, he did a nice job.”

Play of the Game: What could it be other than Bosa’s walkoff sack. Penn State was facing a fourth-and-5 when Bosa – who was actually not supposed to rush the QB – was unblocked by Penn State so he decided to go after Hackenberg. Lynch, a running back, tried to get in his way but Bosa threw him back, right into the plant leg of Hackenberg, who immediately hit the turf. It was a stunning, sudden ending to things, and it was a signature moment for the unanimous All-American.

Player of the Game: Joshua Perry was all over the field, leading a defense that was impenetrable for three quarters before finally tiring in the fourth. Perry finished with 18 tackles and two TFL for an OSU team that made Penn State’s run game nearly nonexistent throughout.

What Was Accomplished: This might have been the win that fully brought Ohio State together and gave the team an identity. Down by a touchdown and needing to score in OT while going into a deafening student section, Ohio State and Barrett seized control of the game to stave off the upset bid. The Buckeyes didn’t have their best game for sure, but when the chips were down, the young squad came through and showed what it is really made of.

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