Ohio State Run Offense: Facing a stingy defense, the Ohio State running game was up to the task. The Buckeyes punished the Nittany Lions to the tune of 315 yards on the ground, with 153 of those coming from Ezekiel Elliott and 102 more coming from J.T. Barrett. Even backup running back Bri’onte Dunn got in on the act in the final minutes, carrying the ball three times for 31 yards. It was an all-around impressive day for a unit that was going up against one of the better defensive lines in the country. – Ryan Ginn
Ohio State Pass Offense: Ohio State finished the game 13 of 19 passing, including a four-of-four showing from J.T. Barrett, but the passing game really never got going. Cardale Jones struggled early and ended up with just 84 yards through the air, but he wasn’t afforded much opportunity as the Buckeyes ran the ball 50 times for 315 yards. That led to a generally disappointing game in the air, but it was mainly a product of what Penn State’s defense allowed, rather than actually poor execution from Ohio State. Barrett did find Braxton Miller on a jump pass for a touchdown, though, providing a high point for the quarterback game on the night. – Tim Moody
Ohio State Run Defense: This was probably the biggest area of concern on the day for the Buckeyes as they consistently struggled to set the edge and allowed Penn State rushers to bounce things outside for big gains. Freshman Saquon Barkley victimized the Buckeye defense with 194 yards on the ground, including a big gainer of 56 yards. Defensive coordinator Luke Fickell admitted after the game that Barkley was faster than they anticipated and the freshman showed it throughout the game. The loss of Joshua Perry certainly didn’t help Ohio State’s issues with runs going to the outside, but overall the rush defense was below the Buckeyes standards. – Blake Williams
Ohio State Pass Defense: It sure helps the secondary quite a bit when guys like Joey Bosa and Adolphus Washington are getting constant pressure on the quarterback. But when they failed to get pressure, the Buckeye secondary looked average at best. Eli Apple was beat deep to open the second half, and Vonn Bell, who is usually a very reliable tackler in the open field failed to bring down Penn State receiver DaeSean Hamilton, who fell into the end zone for the only Nittany Lion touchdown of the night. Long story short, when the Buckeyes get pressure, they have one of the best secondaries in the country. When they don’t, they are average at best. – James Grega
What We Learned
Ryan Ginn: It might be time to see what J.T. Barrett can do as a full-time starter, especially if he gets the majority of reps in practice instead of a handful. I still need to see what he can do as far as throwing the ball over the course of four quarters because he hasn’t had to do too much of that in the red zone these last two games, but Rutgers offers the perfect chance to experiment and take some chances in that regard. The last thing Ohio State needs is to have to pull Cardale Jones again next week and then spend the entire bye week plus the following week listening to people howl about the controversy.
James Grega: The Ohio State run defense needs some work. At first, we all thought that the Buckeyes problem on defense was facing a mobile quarterback. But after Joshua Perry went out early with an ankle injury, OSU struggled to contain Penn State running back Saquon Barkley who rushed for 194 yards on 26 carries. The pass rush is solid for the Buckeyes, who tallied five sacks on the night but the second level will be something to watch going forward as not only is Perry out, but backup linebacker Cam Williams will be suspended for the first half of next weekend’s game after being ejected for targeting late in the game.
Tim Moody: The two-quarterback system gives Ohio State an opportunity to adjust to almost any defense thrown at it, and that was on full display Saturday night. Cardale Jones was a bit erratic, but most of his problems on the night came from Penn State’s pass rush, led by Carl Nassib. The passing game just wasn’t there as the pass blocking wasn’t quite up to par for Ohio State, so the Buckeyes made a switch. That worked to perfection as J.T. Barrett was given free reign even outside the red zone and rushed for 102 yards in the win. Ohio State probably would have won even if that switch didn’t happen, but the team would have struggled to post 38 points.
Blake Williams: With his best game of the season J.T. Barrett kicked back open the door to a quarterback controversy against the Nittany Lions. For the second week in a row he was rarely asked to pass, completing all four of his attempts, but was lethal on the ground, gaining 102 yards. The difference this week, however, was the fact that Barrett played the majority of the second half and not limited to red zone opportunities. Even if it was pretty clear the Buckeyes were focused on running the ball with Barrett in, Penn State couldn’t stop it. Barrett’s performance once again makes the most interesting position group in the country even more compelling.