In a Big Ten battle that had massive College Football Playoff implications, No. 2 Ohio State pulled out a 28-17 win over No. 9 Penn State on Saturday. The Buckeyes moved to 11-0 and locked up the Big Ten East title in the process.
The Nittany Lions gave them a push on a couple drives late in the game. But with Justin Hillard’s key interception and the Buckeyes getting a huge defensive stop on a fourth down, Ohio State was able to secure the victory as the clock ran down to zero.
Ohio State did most of its damage on the ground, with J.K. Dobbins rushing for 157 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Justin Fields also played well, throwing for 188 yards on 16-for-22 passing with two touchdowns. He also ran for 68 yards on 21 carries.
After the Buckeyes jumped out to a 21-0 lead, a couple of second-half turnovers by Ohio State brought Penn State right back into the game. The score was 21-17 going into the fourth quarter, but the Buckeyes made it a two-possession game again when Fields hit Chris Olave for a 28-yard touchdown early in the fourth.
“We talked about going into a big heavyweight match, and you have to take shots,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. “One of the things about playing in a game like this is you have to be willing to take punches, and you have to not flinch when it happens. That was a great example. That was the first time we really were taking shots there.”
Early in the third quarter, Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford left the game with an injury, replaced by freshman Will Levis. Levis ran in a touchdown at the goal line as part of his 18 carries for 34 yards but was just 6-of-11 passing for 57 yards. He also threw a critical interception to Hillard in the fourth quarter. Running back Journey Brown was solid, getting 11 carries for 64 yards with a touchdown.
The Buckeyes were aided all game long by their star defensive end Chase Young. Young returned to action after sitting out two games due to an NCAA violation and was magnificent, picking up nine tackles and three sacks. Even with missing two games, his 16.5 sacks are the most ever in a single season by a Buckeye.
Next up for Ohio State is a regular-season finale in Ann Arbor against No. 12 Michigan. Meanwhile, Penn State, which fell to 9-2 on the season, will host Rutgers next week to wrap up its regular season.