Mark Brennan / Fight On State

Game Review: OSU Defense vs Penn State

Penn State shocked Ohio State 24-21 Saturday night, knocking the Buckeyes from the ranks of the unbeatens and ending Urban Meyer's nearly five year road winning streak. Who stood out for the Buckeyes on defense?

OVERVIEW: I know it sounds like a broken record to continually point out the path to beat Ohio State under Urban Meyer, but we saw it again against Penn State in loss number-six in this era. The only high scoring shootout loss was to Clemson, featuring Martevious Bryant, Sammy Watkins and Tajh Boyd. The others? Stop the run, make OSU pass, beat them up physically and make it a street fight. Wisconsin almost succeeded last week, and Penn State did succeed this week. 

COACHING: This was another good defensive showing by Greg Schiano's unit, and although there were breakdowns, they played well enough to win. Giving up 276 yards and 17 points is winning football. There were a few big plays hit against them that we haven't seen all year, but you can't throw shutouts in this passing era of college football. Like Sciano and his schemes a lot, and think he's been more than a capable replacement for Chris Ash. 

THE DEFENSIVE LINE: Saquon Barkley hurt them on the 37-yard run, but for the most part these guys stopped the run pretty well. They didn't pressure McSorley like I thought they would, and Penn State was missing their best offensive lineman. I like going with the four defensive ends in passing situations, but Bosa, Holmes, Hubbard and Lewis need to be better at rushing the passer. This group was good, but they weren't dominant and I think they can play better going forward. NIck Bosa just might be too good to keep off the field, even though Lewis and Hubbard are strong players. 

THE LINEBACKERS: The Ohio State linebackers played alright against Penn State, but the Nittany Lion backers were much better. Raekwon McMillan was OK, but certainly not what people have reason to expect from him. This has gone on for three games now. I don't know of any injury, but he sure isn't running well sideline to sideline. Jerome Baker played OK as well, but Chris Worley was pretty much a no-show. Hard to criticize this group, but they just did not do much. 

THE DEFENSIVE BACKS: Prior to the Penn State game, Marshon Lattimore, Denzel Ward and Gareon Conley had been thrown at 31 times with passes over 10 yards. They had only allowed five completions out of those 31, which is unheard of. Opponents had zero touchdown passes and three interceptions. Obviously, that cannot continue, and sure enough Penn State had completions of 20, 26, 34 and 35 yards. Ohio State only allowed eight completions on the night, which is amazing, but Penn State won most of the 50-50 balls for some big gains. This is still a great secondary, and Malik Hooker continues to play at All-American level. No worries with these guys at all. 

THE SUMMARY: This unit just needs to keep doing what they do, and this is national championship quality, both in coaching and in talent. It's almost impossible to see anyone on the remaining schedule scoring more than 24 points on these guys. In today's era of scoring, that's good enough to win every time out as long as the offense does their part. 

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