As it turns out, Ohio State is never more dangerous than when it’s dead. The Buckeyes were exposed for long stretches on both sides of the ball in whiteout conditions but somehow managed to escape with their perfect record — if not their sanity — intact. Question is, how? Leaves are awarded on a zero-to-five basis. — Ray Stein

Offense (3)

It’s hard to square how the same team that demolished three cupcakes and TCU could play so poorly for such long stretches. Dwayne Haskins went from “Cool Hand Luke” to “Happy Feet” to, in the end, the true “Lion King.” All hail Simba. His co-star receivers bailed him out, plenty, though.

 

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Defense (3)

At times, Chase Young and friends made the kind of grown-man plays that made you go “wow.” And then the Buckeyes would give up a huge play on a pass or a Trace McSorley run that made you go “whoa.” There are some real issues here, especially in the secondary, but they live to see another day.

Special teams (4)

It’s no stretch to say Drue Chrisman was Ohio State’s most valuable player in the first half, when he averaged 47.7 yards on seven punts to help the Buckeyes stay afloat in the field-position game. OSU gave away three points in the second half when a face-mask penalty took a field goal off the board.

Coaching (3)

Ohio State scored 20 of its 27 points after halftime, so obviously there were some adjustments made that worked, at least a little. In the end, the Buckeyes had the defensive nails that Penn State couldn’t come up with, which is how short passes became long TDs. At what point do the stupid penalties cease?

Fun (5)

Beaver Stadium was a raucous sea of white shirts and shaking pom-poms from beginning to end, though you cannot believe how quiet 110,000 people can suddenly become when they see K.J. Hill high-step into the end zone for the go-ahead points. Penn State knows how to throw a party, though it ended abruptly.

Opponent (4)

McSorley is the real deal, and he has the numbers (286 passing yards, 175 rushing) to prove it. But the surrounding components aren’t as shiny as his group last year. The way the Lions played defense for 52 minutes made one wonder how App State put 38 on them. The final eight minutes showed how.

Officiating (3)

Referee Dan Capron’s crew mostly served as silent observers well into the second half, then started asserting their authority. Isaiah Pryor’s targeting penalty looked iffy, largely for the apparent lack of intent to maim. Nothing wrong with protecting players, though.

 

rstein@dispatch.com