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Although it’s true it ain’t over till it’s over, it sure looked over until Binjimen Victor, K.J. Hill, Chase Young and the Buckeyes took over.
In the polls
Ohio State finding a way to squeak past the No. 9 team on the road was considered a stouter accomplishment by the poll voters than Clemson, with a backup quarterback, squeaking past an unbeaten team at home. That’s why the Buckeyes moved up a spot to No. 3 in both major polls behind Alabama and Georgia, while Clemson, previously No. 2 in the coaches’ poll and No. 3 in the AP poll, fell to No.4.
Chase Young. No one is going to completely replace Nick Bosa — the defensive end is, after all, considered one of the elite players in the country. But Young came of age at Penn State and delivered huge plays, including a batted pass on fourth down and later a tackle of running back Miles Sanders in the backfield on fourth-and-5 with 1:12 to play.
What else is hot?
The wide receiver corps. Well, it started cold, but it finished like a branding iron. Victor put his imprint on the history of the series with a 47-yard catch from Dwayne Haskins that cut Penn State’s lead to 26-21, and K.J. Hill did the same with the screen pass he turned into the winning 24-yard touchdown play. All the while, Terry McLaurin, Austin Mack and Parris Campbell kept blocking.
What’s not hot?
The propensity to give up jaw-dropping, historic plays. After pinning the Nittany Lions deep on another of Drue Chrisman’s impressive punts, the one thing the Ohio State defense couldn’t allow was the fastest man on the field to catch a slant in stride in man coverage. It did — K.J. Hamler outrunning Shaun Wade across the middle, then safety Isaiah Pryor taking a bad angle that allowed Hamler to jet away 93 yards, the second longest play from scrimmage for Penn State. It was the second 93-yard touchdown play Ohio State has given up this season, to go with 80- and 78-yarders. That’s an epidemic.
Cornerback Damon Arnette apparently is in concussion protocol after having to be helped from the field in fourth quarter and will be evaluated as the week progresses. With Pryor kicked out for a questionable targeting call, the Buckeyes plumbed their defensive backfield depth, Jeffrey Okudah replacing Arnette and Jahsen Wint stepping in for Pryor. Defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones returned to action after rolling his left ankle during Penn State’s last possession. He left the stadium wearing an isolation boot and also will be further evaluated through the week.
With the Ohio State offense suddenly finding its stride in the fourth quarter, the line sensed a takeover up front. Before the winning TD pass play to Hill, left tackle Thayer Munford was seen making motions to the bench area that indicated he and his linemates wanted to shove it down the Nittany Lions throats. Either way, it worked.
Indiana held off Rutgers 24-17 on Saturday to move to 4-1, the lone loss being 35-21 to Michigan State two weeks ago. The Hoosiers are No. 5 in the Big Ten in total offense (412.2 yards per game), led by quarterback Peyton Ramsey, who has thrown eight TD passes with five interceptions. They are No. 6 in total defense (321.8).
This week’s challenge
A year ago after another incredible comeback victory over Penn State, the Buckeyes went to Iowa and laid an ostrich egg, a lopsided lost that likely cost them a spot in the College Football Playoff, even though they went on to win the Big Ten title. Indiana, an opening 27.5-point underdog, is just the kind of team that could take advantage of a sighing bunch of Buckeyes, and this season there would be no excuse.