Final takeaways from Ohio State’s win over Penn State

Ohio State started the second half of the season with its biggest win yet.

The fallout from the Buckeyes’ 20-12 win over Penn State was swift and far-reaching, as is to be expected.

Here are some final thoughts from the weekend:

1. Like Ohio State’s win at Notre Dame, this played out more like an NFL game.

The lines were at the mercy of the pass rush and neither team could run the ball consistently so it came down to still-developing QBs having to rely on their receivers to do much of anything.

Kyle McCord could have been sharper, but he was good enough at getting the ball to Marvin Harrison Jr. and Cade Stover for the Buckeyes to carry the day.

Unfortunately for Penn State’s Drew Allar, he doesn’t really have the guys around him McCord does.

2. This game confirmed Ohio State has a good enough secondary to completely shutdown a competent passing game.

That is no small thing if you’ve watched the past three seasons, and it was despite the absence of top cornerback Denzel Burke.

3. Bottom line: That was a great win for Ohio State even if Penn State still isn’t quite a College Football Playoff team.

For the flak the Buckeyes frequently get for not totally dominating opponents, this was a domination by the defense of a team with strong fundamentals.

Penn State does lack firepower and experience at quarterback, but there are enough weapons to hurt you if you are not doing something right. We have seen many average offenses have good days against the Buckeyes in recent seasons.

Maybe that all didn’t need to be said, but this kinda stuff gets lost in the shuffle many times. We in the media (including social media analysts of various levels of repute) work hard to build up opponents throughout the week then tear them down when it’s over or vice versa if it is an underdog.

4. Ohio State really missed the explosiveness of TreVeyon Henderson and Emeka Egbuka.

The running game is obviously a huge lability for the Buckeyes, especially with Michigan having yet to find a team that could expose any weaknesses the Wolverines may or may not have.

Henderson lacks some vision, but he is a big-play threat every time he touches the ball, and there were some holes there Saturday that appeared to close before Miyan Williams or Chip Trayanum could get all the way through them.

The Buckeyes briefly found something with the inside runs for Williams, but Penn State adjusted and took those away in the latter half of the second half. Then there was no change-up.

Beyond that, not playing Dallan Hayden remains truly baffling despite the public explanations (desire to redshirt him). The sophomore has displayed the ability to find cracks and get through them better than any of Ohio State’s current backs, including Henderson, whose only advantage over him is top-end speed.

Though he is Ohio State’s No. 2 receiver, Egbuka was missed more in the running game than the passing game. Xavier Johnson Jr. had a couple of opportunities on the perimeter he couldn’t get to as quickly as Egbuka.

5. The Ohio State University Marching Band played a Led Zeppelin tribute at halftime, and I half expected Penn State coach James Franklin to quoting the greatest band of all-time’s best song in the postgame interview room.

“How many more times/Treat me the way you wanna do?”

Franklin put off the question about whether or not fans should view the game as referendum on his program, which was expected and is his prerogative, but this was more than a spring clean for the May queen.

The postgame narratives were always going to be a nightmare for the losing coach.

For Ryan Day, it would have been, “Not only can he not beat Michigan, now he’s fallen behind Penn State, too,” but at least he would have still had the chance to beat the Wolverines.

For Franklin, it’s still, “He can’t win the big one,” and “his program has topped out.”

And, well, the first one is undeniably true.

This is a brutal loss for Franklin because many people, myself included, though this was his best team. It might be overall, but Allar apparently isn’t ready yet, and he doesn’t have enough weapons on the outside.

As for the second narrative, Franklin has stabilized and improved the Penn State program since arriving 10 years ago Is it topped out under him? Is it topped out completely if so? I would tend to lean toward yes on both, but PSU should return a lot next year. Allar should be better in his second year as a starter and both backs are sophomores, but they might be rebuilding on the offensive line.

6. Meanwhile, Ohio State is undefeated but still looking for its stairway to heaven.

Yes, there are two paths Day can go by, but in the long run there’s still time to change the road he’s on.

It’s whispered that soon if Ohio State’s offensive linemen can all call the tune, then Henderson could be the piper to lead the Buckeyes to reason (or at least a more balanced offense), but for now, the shadow of the Ohio State offense’s past is still taller than its soul…

About the Author