Ohio State 38, Penn State 25 | Scarlet & Gray Matter analysis

Joey Kaufman
Buckeye Xtra

Joey Kaufman’s observations about Saturday's game:

The game at hand

• Short-attention-span synopsis: Remember last year’s game? Ohio State went ahead big, Penn State crawled back and a competitive second half followed. Saturday’s script was pretty similar.

• Pregame buzz: Without a “White Out” crowd, no foreboding atmosphere awaited the Buckeyes at Beaver Stadium, which has given Penn State a home-field advantage in the teams’ recent meetings in State College. The scene was sedated, the opposite of the usual atmosphere that builds around such a high-profile matchup. Streets around the stadium were blocked to traffic in an effort to limit crowds. Electronic road signs warned against tailgating or large gatherings.

Ohio State receiver Chris Olave (2) celebrates after catching a fourth-down pass on OSU's final scoring drive, in the fourth quarter.

• Spread the wealth? The Buckeyes covered the 10-point spread, the first time they have covered against Penn State since a 38-10 victory in 2015. In the last three triumphs over the Nittany Lions, they didn’t by a big enough margin, while in 2016, they lost by a field goal, despite entering the game as 19-point favorites. Ohio State has not been an underdog in the series since 2009.

Ohio State beats Penn State:Rob Oller | Justin Fields completes what Buckeyes started

• Strategically speaking: After Penn State’s opening drive stalled near midfield, coach James Franklin elected to go for it on fourth down, but failed to convert. Quarterback Sean Clifford faced a heavy rush and couldn’t complete a pass. It handed the Buckeyes favorable field position, and they scored five plays later, amassing an early 14-0 lead. The decision felt too early, a little desperate, and backfired.

• Just wondering: Did someone on Penn State’s game operations forget to change the videos cycling on the jumbotron? At one point in the second half it asked fans to stand up for a critical third down. “We need it!” a voice yelled. Of course, there was hardly anyone to stand.

• This week in vanity plates: HOMEOUT

Ohio State recruiting:Blue-chip quarterback who decommitted from Texas looks promising for Ohio State

The View

• How the team sees it: Any win in Happy Valley is tough to come by, fans or no fans in attendance, and cause for celebration.

• How the pollsters will see it: They’ve only played two games, but we get it, they’re good.

• How Buckeye Nation sees it: The opening week kinks were sufficiently worked out.

Hey, what Day did say?

• What he said: “Overall just a gutsy win on the road. Hard to win here.”

• What it means: “Don’t knock the degree of difficulty for this win over crowd size.”

They said it

• Your turn/the channel: Instead of calling the game in person at Beaver Stadium, play-by-play announcer Paul Keels and color analyst Jim Lachey worked remotely from Ohio State for the radio broadcast on 97.1 The Fan. Traveling is limited across the Big Ten for crews this fall due to the coronavirus pandemic.

• Pregame chatter: Kirk Herbstreit mused on ESPN’s College GameDay broadcast that the Buckeyes had a dialed-back game plan against Nebraska, not wanting to put too much on film for opponents, comparing it to a spring game. He predicted they would open up the playbook at Penn State, and there was a little extra creativity. Ohio State ran a fly sweep for Garrett Wilson on its first play, leading to its first touchdown drive.

Numbers for dummies

8-1: Record against Penn State during coaching tenures of Urban Meyer and Ryan Day.

10: Consecutive road wins for Ohio State against teams ranked in the Associated Press poll.

15: Streak of wins over Big Ten teams, following loss at Purdue midway through the 2018 season.

Bottom Line for Ohio State-Penn State:Offense shines in a weird atmosphere

464: Receiving yards between Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson in the first two games. They also become the first two Ohio State receivers to each have 100 or more receiving yards in consecutive games.

16: Consecutive completions for Justin Fields over two games, tying a school record previously set by J.T. Barrett

87.2: Completion percentage for Justin Fields in his first two games this season.

110: Rushing yards by Master Teague III, eclipsing the century mark for only the third time in his career and two yards shy of a career high.

5: Sacks by Ohio State’s defense, equaling last season total against the Nittany Lions.

3: Touchdowns by Penn State wide receiver Jahan Dotson, who got the better of a matchup with Buckeyes cornerback Shaun Wade.

48: Times Ohio State has appeared on College GameDay, tying Alabama for the most by any school.

On tap

The Buckeyes will kick off in prime time for a second consecutive week. The billing for the next matchup might be a little different, though. They’re hosting Rutgers. Perennial cellar dwellers in the Big Ten East, the Scarlet Knights look a little improved this fall under Greg Schiano, who returned for his second coaching stint, but they've lost all six times to the Buckeyes since joining the conference and by an average margin of defeat of 46.5 points.

Tweethearts

Reactions to the game on Twitter:

@RobPep12: The amount of confidence I have in this Buckeyes team is insane. I haven’t been worried about this game all day and still am not worried 

@ccgamesceo: Three and out for the Buckeyes offense to start the game. 

@Scarletjersey: Franklin’s 4th and 2 call is as good as when Bosa pile drove the OL into the QB to end the game. 

@jakeanderson884: Master Teague is the kind of player i prided myself on having when i played ncaa 2013. 

@linds_nucci: Ok I'm freaking pumped that my Buckeyes are back but I CANNOT handle 3 hours of political ads. Is it over yet? 

@Thomascooper30: Weird coaching sequence there for Ryan Day he calls 2 timeouts on defense with the intention of getting the ball back and when he gets it he runs Trey Sermon twice? I don’t get it 

@bfields103: Worst clock keeping since the 1972 Olympics 

@thewein83: Good job defense! Don't accidentally breathe on anyone you shouldn't! 

@_Juuddy: Who is #24 for us?! Cause buddy you’re not starting next week 

@derek_deyoung: I want to have another kid just so I can name him Justin fields. 

@JKamler: Buckeyes can outscore just about anyone, but man their defense gives up a lot of points. This secondary needs a lot of work. 

Horseshoe haiku

White Out: quick-starting

Buckeyes erasing others’

Big Ten title hopes

jkaufman@dispatch.com

@joeyrkaufman