Football 5 plays that mattered – Ohio State versus Penn State

The Buckeyes take the field for the Penn State game on Oct. 28. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo Editor Watch Lantern TV’s Top 5: Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer posed the question nearly everyone who watched Saturday’s anarchic, comeback victory against Penn State had on their mind.“Wow. What just happened?” he said to open his postgame press conference.What just happened was now-No. 3 Ohio State beat the then-No. 2 team in the country 39-38 despite trailing by double digits nearly the entire game, including an 11-point deficit with 5:37 remaining. Along the way, Ohio State did everything it could to lose the game, continuously shooting itself in the foot. In the end, the Buckeyes found a way to win, and that’s all that matters in sport.There were a number of plays that impacted the storylines of the game, but these are the five that mattered most.Fourth-quarter blocked puntQuarterback J.T. Barrett bent over with his hands and knees on the turf after fumbling with 13:13 left in the game and Ohio State trailing 35-20. Four plays later, the Buckeyes finally created their own luck.Cornerback Denzel Ward, perhaps the team’s fastest player, ran free and blocked a punt at Penn State’s 46-yard line. Redshirt junior linebacker Dante Booker recovered the ball, and Ohio State had a first down at the Penn State 41 instead of starting the drive likely inside its own 20.Barrett threw a touchdown pass to Johnnie Dixon two plays later to cut the deficit to 35-27.Fourth-quarter goal-line standFollowing that touchdown, the Ohio State defense still had to make plays. An impatient Buckeye crowd had to wait until just the last moment for the defense to make its stand.Penn State had first-and-goal at the Buckeyes’ 7-yard line. Quarterback Trace McSorley kept the ball on two straight read options, gaining just three yards. On third down, redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Robert Landers burst through the offensive line to drop running back Saquon Barkley for a 3-yard loss.Penn State ended the drive with a field goal when a touchdown likely would have made slim any chance of a comeback for Ohio State.Sam Hubbard drops BarkleyTrailing 38-33, Ohio State needed its defense to make quick stops — three plays and get the offense back on the field. The first play of Penn State’s drive, defensive end Sam Hubbard blew past the left guard, who shifted over to block Hubbard, and tackled McSorley and Barkley while the handoff was taking place.Hubbard put the Nittany Lions inside their 10-yard line with a 7-yard loss. Penn State punted three plays later with more than three minutes remaining. The hit felt like it energized the entire stadium and set the stage for Barrett’s game-winning drive.Denzel Ward interception overturned for touchdownThis play would be up higher if the outcome was different. Ward appeared to reel in a possible game-changing interception in the end zone, as he battled for the ball with receiver DeAndre Thompkins. However, the replay review showed the ball bounce off Ward and into the hands of Thompkins, resulting in a joint possession which, by rule, favors the offensive player.That score put Penn State up 35-20, and just when Ohio State felt it made a play to alter the course of the game, the catch was a momentary back-breaking play.Game official John O’Neill described the play after the game:“The Penn State receiver had the ball first. He brought the ball down, completed the process of a catch, rolled over at which point the Ohio State defender came down on him.”Saquon Barkley opening touchdownIf there was one clear mismatch heading into the game, it was Ohio State’s kick coverage unit against Heisman front-runner Barkley. In probably the most predictable beginning to the game, Barkley returned the opening kick 97 yards, giving the Nittany Lions an early 7-0 lead that didn’t allow Ohio State to be comfortable at any point in the game. read more