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Marvin Harrison Jr. masterclass powers Ohio State past Penn State 20-12

7:58 pm, October 21, 2023

A punt-filled first quarter Saturday served as two heavyweight fighters feeling out their vaunted opponents, and the lessons learned were pretty evident to the viewing public: Penn State and Ohio State are remarkably similar ball clubs.

Both teams leaned heavily on their stingy defenses — when’s the last time you’ve seen Ohio State kneel into the locker room with three timeouts — and worked through the growing pains inherent with a young, inexperienced quarterback. However, while struggling PSU quarterback Drew Allar found no respite in his unproven receiving corps, Ohio State gunslinger Kyle McCord got to pull away from the Nittany Lions in a Maserati.

Marvin Harrison Jr. cemented his first-round draft pick candidacy Saturday, hauling in 11 receptions for 162 yards and a late touchdown grab that wrapped up Ohio State’s 20-12 victory Saturday.

During OSU’s opening drive, McCord appeared completely unfazed staring out at the very best defense in college football early Saturday, slicing through the blue-and-white secondary and completing all five of his opening passes. A dump down to Chip Trayanum stretched for 19 yards inside the red zone, but with the goal line breathing down its neck Penn State’s defense finally began to match its pedigree. McCord would promptly fire three consecutive incompletions, stalling the Buckeye drive and forcing a field goal.

Both defenses continued to perform at an elite level, forcing nine first-half punts, and it appeared the Penn State front delivered a momentum-shifting blow as linebacker Curtis Jacobs punched the ball away from a scrambling Kyle McCord and scooped up a perfect bounce for a 56-yard fumble recovery touchdown in the second quarter.

Completely unbeknownst to a jubilant Jacobs reeling up the sideline in celebration, however, the Penn State secondary was whistled for a defensive holding, giving the Ohio State offense new life and new set of downs. McCord took full advantage, rifling a throw into Harrison Jr. at the four-yard line and later handing the ball off to Miyan Williams, who battled through initial contact and stretched across the goal line for six.

Penn State sandwiched the Williams score with a pair of field goals, trimming the Ohio State lead to 10-6 heading into the locker room.

The same stingy defense consumed the entire third quarter, with seven combined possessions amounting to five punts, a turnover on downs and a fumble. But as Ohio State opened the fourth quarter looking to extend a four-point lead, McCord turned to ol’ reliables Harrison Jr. and Cade Stover — the duo combined for 81 percent of OSU’s receiving yardage Saturday — for a pair of 30-yard grabs to push the Buckeyes inside opposing territory.

Ohio State knocked through a crucial field goal from 40-yards out, and a massive fourth down stop in front of midfield for the Buckeye defense set up a short field that Harrison Jr. ultimately conquered with a 13-yard TD score. Penn State managed a consolation touchdown inside the final minute, but the Buckeyes secured the on-side kick and improved to 7-0 on the season.

7:27 pm, October 21, 2023

With Ohio State leading by seven inside the final four minutes and a chance to build a two-score lead beckoning, faces around the Buckeye State grimaced as Kyle McCord forwent an opportunity to bleed more time off the clock and dropped back to pass on 3rd and 13. Coach Ryan Day’s risky play call paid out in spades, however, as McCord found Marvin Harrison Jr. impossibly open slanting across the middle and the star receiver beat the Penn State defense to the pylon for six.

MASERATI 🗣️🎙️@MarvHarrisonJr extends @OhioStateFB‘s lead! 🌰 pic.twitter.com/xvBdmoiJ1A

— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) October 21, 2023

Harrison’s TD grab saw his lofty stat line balloon further, grabbing his 11th reception for 162 yards against the top-ranked passing defenses in all of FBS Football and extending Ohio State’s lead to 20-6

7:14 pm, October 21, 2023

Navigating through some mid-game passing woes and a seemingly endless sea of punts, Kyle McCord rallied to total nearly 300 yards Saturday, nearly 80 percent of have come courtesy of star wide receivers Marvin Harrison Jr. and Cade Stover.

So as Ohio State prepared for a crucial drive, looking to extend a four-point advantage from inside its own 10-yard line, McCord unsurprisingly turned to his two-headed receiving monster to spearhead a crucial scoring drive. First, it was Harrison Jr. who freed himself to drag Ohio State out of a menacing 2nd-and-13 hole and near midfield with a 28-yard grab, and on the very next play Stover hauled in a 29-yard grab that pushed OSU into Nittany Lion territory.

McCord led the Buckeyes inside the red zone, ultimately settling for a crucial field goal that extended Ohio State’s lead to seven. 13-6 Ohio State inside of eight minutes remaining

6:37 pm, October 21, 2023

With a chunk gain sorely needed by a beleaguered Ohio State offense previously averaging around six yards per pass, Cade Stover outleapt a helpless Penn State defender, high-pointed an excellent pass from Kyle McCord and secured a massive 29-yard catch to set up first-and-goal.

The Buckeyes looked set to capitalize on Stover’s grab, pushing to the one-yard line for third down, but the Penn State front repelled Miyan Williams for negative yardage and forced Kyle McCord pass attempt short of the goal line. The Nittany Lions still trail by just four entering the fourth quarter, hoping for an offensive spark.

PENN STATE DEFENSE WITH THE STOP ON 4TH AND GOAL 🔥@PennStateFball #Sponsoredby @wendys pic.twitter.com/crtYR5PhQF

— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) October 21, 2023

5:52 pm, October 21, 2023

If you needed to boil down Ohio State’s remarkable defensive shift in ideology into one play, look no further than the Buckeyes’ final possession of the first half Saturday. The OSU offense, once a dynamic and domineering force that would strike fear into any defense no matter how much time remained, had been largely contained by the Penn State defense, and despite having 40 seconds and three timeouts remaining quarterback Kyle McCord opted to close the half with a pair of knees.

Coach Ryan Day’s decision, greeted with beckoning boos at Ohio Stadium, reflected confidence in his transformed defense that had forced PSU QB Drew Allar into an unsightly 35% completion percentage and five first-half punts. A bit of penalty fortune gave Ohio State the only touchdown of the game early in the second quarter, and the Buckeyes enjoy a 10-6 edge in Saturday’s low-scoring opening half

5:25 pm, October 21, 2023

On the heels of three consecutive punts, a long-awaited potent Buckeye drive appeared to collapse as Penn State linebacker Curtis Jacobs punched the ball away from a scrambling Kyle McCord and scooped up a perfect bounce for a 56-yard fumble recovery touchdown.

Completely unbeknownst to a jubilant Jacobs reeling up the sideline in celebration, however, the Penn State secondary was whistled for a defensive holding, giving the Ohio State offense new life and new set of downs. McCord would take full advantage, rifling a throw into star receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. at the four-yard line and later handing the ball off to Miyan Williams, who battled through initial contact and stretched across the goal line for six. 10-3 Buckeyes with just seven minutes remaining in the first half.

THERE. IT. IS. 👏@OhioStateFB takes the lead! 🌰#Sponsoredby @wendys pic.twitter.com/1qeF9lgBie

— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) October 21, 2023

With a pair of college football’s best defenses taking the field Saturday, the two starting quarterbacks have produced a pair of expectedly bleak stat lines through a stingy opening quarter — Kyle McCord and Drew Allar have combined to go 10-21 for just over 100 yards.

McCord looked remarkably poised against Penn State’s vaunted secondary early, completing his first five passes to drag his Buckeyes inside the red zone. However, the Nits stiffened as they tracked back toward single digits, forcing three straight incompletions — McCord would go on to misfire on six of his next seven passes — and a field goal for the Buckeyes.

Allar, meanwhile, has been under constant duress from OSU’s ferocious front, designating most of Penn State’s meager offensive gains to Nicholas Singleton. The running back churned out 42 yards on a crucial PSU drive, resulting in a game-tying 40-yard field goal. Excluding the two field-goal drive, Penn State and Ohio State have combined for six punts and just 83 yards as we enter the second quarter tied at 3.

4:23 pm, October 21, 2023

Ohio State QB Kyle McCord appeared completely unfazed staring out at the very best defense in college football early Saturday, slicing through the blue-and-white secondary and completing all five of his opening passes.

A dump down to Chip Trayanum stretched for 19 yards inside the red zone, but with the goal line breathing down its neck Penn State’s defense finally began to match its pedigree. McCord would promptly fire three consecutive incompletions, stalling the Buckeye drive and forcing a field goal.

3-0 Ohio State after five minutes of play.

4:16 pm, October 21, 2023

College football Saturday starts with a bang in week 8, as Penn State and Ohio State tangle in a crucial Big Ten East matchup. Ohio State wins the opening toss and will begin on defense, electing to defer.

Follow live for scores, updates and everything else you need to know from Ohio Stadium

4:19 pm, October 19, 2023

It’s almost an embarrassment of riches for sixth-ranked juggernauts Penn State. Somehow, despite surging out to a 6-0 start and dominating its first three conference opponents each by three scores, there seems to be another gear to Penn State’s offense going unused, or perhaps even unneeded.

The Nittany Lion offense currently ranks second to last in FBS in explosive play rate and hasn’t completed a pass for more than 35 yards since Week 1, opting for a more methodical approach that has produced one comical press conference interaction with James Franklin and zero close games for his bunch.

Any bullets left in the Penn State chamber likely need to be fired Saturday, however, facing off against Jim Knowles’s stingy defense will be difficult. Since arriving from Oklahoma State in 2022 as defensive coordinator, Knowles has helped redefine the Buckeyes from a squad desperate for passable defense to a squad defined by it — the Buckeyes defense ranks sixth in expected yards added (EPA) and has allowed an average of fewer than 10 points per game thus far in 2023.

And as a consequence of Penn State’s more intentional approach, a notable red flag on the Nittany Lion statistical profile is their struggles on early downs, moving the chains on just 28 percent of first-and-second down snaps — the Ohio State defense, in turn, excels in this area, allowing conversions on a second-ranked 19.5 percent of snaps on first and second down. The Ohio State defense appears to have an excellent opportunity to force Penn State behind schedule and make sophomore PSU quarterback Drew Allar beat them.

Conversely, Saturday offers the ultimate test — Penn State ranks first in FBS for EPA/pass — for an Ohio State aerial attack that has looked improved after facing early criticism. Buckeye quarterback Kyle McCord notably struggled against Indiana in Week 1, throwing zero touchdowns, an interception and misfiring often in a tightly-contested first half. McCord rallied in the second half to help OSU pull away and has impressed ever since, surpassing 250 passing yards in all but one game and tossing 11 touchdowns to zero picks.

Even an improved McCord still projects to struggle against a Penn State defense that has held opposing quarterbacks under 130 yards in its last three games. Production from Ohio State’s inconsistent run game, currently averaging 4.3 yards per carry, will be crucial for the Buckeyes in order to secure the home W.

3:11 pm, October 19, 2023

Columbus has served as the center of the college football world since 1994 — at least in the eyes of ESPN’s College GameDay crew. Rece Davis has led his traveling troupe to Ohio Stadium 23 times, comfortably the most of any ground in the country, and the Buckeyes also lead FBS in GameDay appearances (58) and GameDay wins (39).

COLUMBUS, WE’RE COMING TO SEE YOU NEXT WEEKEND‼️#CollegeGameDay pic.twitter.com/CY5LzaqwoV

— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) October 14, 2023

Penn State’s navy blue against the red-and-white turf inside the “Shoe” offers another sense of familiarity for the College GameDay crew, with the Nittany Lions being the opponent of choice for nine of their 23 appearances in Columbus. Accomplished GameDay veterans in their own right, Penn State has appeared in 25 spotlight clashes and has won three of its last four, most recently a 35-21 Rose Bowl victory over Utah.

2:24 pm, October 19, 2023

What began as an evenly-contested rivalry upon Penn State’s entry into the Big Ten in 1993 — Ohio State held a narrow 5-4 advantage through the teams’ first nine annual meetups — has evolved into Buckeye brutality since the new millennium. Ohio State coach Ryan Day has continued this dominance since taking the reins late in the 2018 season, posting a perfect 4-0 record against the Nits and defeating his Happy Valley rivals by at least two scores each time.

In fact, Penn State has only managed to beat the Buckeyes once this decade, triumphing in a 2016 whiteout classic where PSU actually trailed 21-7 before leaning on the powerful legs of Saquon Barkley, and a crucial blocked field goal turned touchdown, to complete its comeback 24-21.

Here’s a look at the last ten editions of the Penn State-Ohio State rivalry:

DATE LOCATIOH WINNER LOSER SCORE
Oct. 26, 2013 Columbus, Ohio #4 Ohio State Penn State 63-14
Oct. 25, 2014 State College, Pa. #12 Ohio State Penn State 31-24
Oct. 17, 2015 Columbus, Ohio #1 Ohio State Penn State 38-10
Oct. 22, 2016 State College, Pa. Penn State #2 Ohio State 24-21
Oct. 28, 2017 Columbus, Ohio #6 Ohio State #2 Penn State 39-38
Sept. 29, 2018 State College, Pa. #4 Ohio State #9 Penn State 27-26
Nov. 23, 2019 Columbus, Ohio #2 Ohio State #8 Penn State 28-17
Oct. 31, 2020 State College, Pa. #3 Ohio State #18 Penn State 38-25
Oct. 30, 2021 Columbus, Ohio #5 Ohio State #20 Penn State 33-24
Oct. 29, 2022 State College, Pa. #2 Ohio State #13 Penn State 44-31

2:20 pm, October 19, 2023

Fanatics across the Buckeye State will be up bright and early Saturday morning, with over 105,000 set to pack Ohio Stadium for a crucial noon kickoff against Penn State. Here’s how you can watch all the rivalry action:

  • Date 🗓️: Saturday, Oct. 21
  • Time ⏰: 12 p.m. ET
  • Location📍: Columbus, Ohio
  • TV 📺: FOX

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