Ohio State-Penn State | Rob Oller’s Second Thoughts

Rob Oller
Ohio State Buckeyes running back J.K. Dobbins (2) leaps as he carries the ball passed Penn State Nittany Lions linebacker Cam Brown (6) during the first half of the game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Penn State Nittany Lions at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. [Maddie Schroeder/Dispatch]

• Ohio State missed an opportunity to impress the playoff committee into leapfrogging the No. 2 Buckeyes over No. 1 LSU in the rankings. When questioned about their decision-making, committee chair Rob Mullens recites the mantra “we watch the games.” Well, when watching this one, they’ll note that OSU dominated the statistics but not the scoreboard because of self-destructive behavior that included three lost fumbles, including one on the goal line. I think had the Buckeyes easily covered the 18-point spread against the No. 8 Nittany Lions, there was a good chance they would pass LSU. I’d be shocked if that happens now. And ending the season ranked No. 1 is no small thing. It likely would lead to a playoff semifinal against a team not named Clemson.

• Did Urban Meyer take over play-calling duties from Ryan Day and communicate with fill-in offensive coordinator Jim Tressel in the press box? That’s how it seemed for much of a game that produced a decidedly conservative vibe on offense. Ohio State ran the ball 61 times, the most since the 61 attempts in the 2015 national title game win against Oregon. J.K. Dobbins had a season-high 36 carries and Justin Fields added a career-high 21. I understand using Fields, who was 16 of 22 passing, to give Penn State another runner to worry about. The Nittany Lions came in ranked No. 1 in rushing yards allowed per carry. But I also wonder why revert to a more run-based offense when what has made OSU so dangerous this season is a potent run-pass mix?

• I wouldn’t exactly call receiver Chris Olave underrated, but my goodness the sophomore may not be getting enough attention for being one of the best receivers in the nation. His total number of catches (39) won’t wow anyone, but that’s because the passing game is so balanced with K.J. Hill (42), Binjimen Victor (29) and Garrett Wilson (21). I asked Fields last week if he had a favorite receiver. He said no, but if I were him I’d keep a special lookout for Olave when the heat is on, because the Californian catches pretty much everything. His 28-yard TD grab in traffic put the Buckeyes up 28-17 and sealed the deal. “To see Chris go up and get that ball, what an unbelievable play,” Day said.

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