Football Ohio State gets win still needs to prove itself

Ohio State redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins (7) yells out a play in the third quarter of the game against Penn State on Sept. 29. Ohio State won 27-26. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorWhen No. 4 Ohio State went down to Arlington, Texas and beat a then-No. 15 TCU team without head coach Urban Meyer on the sidelines, it looked like the Buckeyes may have passed their first difficult game of the season.But No. 9 Penn State loomed two weeks away, a team that has played Ohio State tougher than anybody in the last two seasons. This was a true road game after AT&T Stadium, a supposed neutral site game, ended up being majorly filled with Ohio State fans.Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day said the Penn State matchup is one Ohio State has been waiting for.“This has been circled on our schedule for a long time,” Day said. “We knew it was going to be hard, white out conditions, night game … winning on the road in the Big Ten is hard.”The 40-28 win over the Horned Frogs hoped to prove Ohio State can play with some big talent, but Saturday’s victory in Happy Valley was supposed to establish the Buckeyes as a top team in the country.Instead, even with a 27-26 win on the road against a top-10 opponent, Ohio State looked anything but dominant.Ohio State’s offense, which has been ran mostly through redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins, failed to get any momentum going in various sequences of the game, ending the day with his lowest quarterback rating of the season.“It was a learning game for the whole offense and for Dwayne,” Day said. “I think as the game went on he got more comfortable.”On the other side of the ball, Penn State redshirt senior quarterback Trace McSorley made his presence known early and often, tallying 274 yards of total offense by halftime.With the combination of his stagnating offense and a defense having to defend a dual-threat quarterback, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer agreed  the play of his team in the first two quarters was sub-par.“The first half was awful, you know, in a lot of ways,” Meyer said. “That’s a hell of a team we just played.”The Buckeyes came out of the second half with an improved gameplan, and it immediately paid off with a touchdown from redshirt sophomore running back J.K. Dobbins, his second of the game, putting Ohio State up 14-13.On the opening touchdown drive in the third quarter Haskins ran short pass plays, and the run game was implemented at the right time.Ohio State looked to be turning a corner, but the Nittany Lions continued to push, opening up a 26-14 lead with eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, led largely by their redshirt senior quarterback.The game looked over, the Buckeyes looked defeated, but one immaculate play by junior wide receiver Binjimen Victor turned the tide.Victor caught a high ball from Haskins, broke two tackles, then perfectly followed three blocks while he made his way to the endzone for a 47-yard score.Even then, Ohio State needed to complete a 96-yard drive to go ahead of the Nittany Lions, and they did that too.Following a flurry of screen passes and quick runs, the Buckeyes inched their way across the field, taking the lead on a 24-yard screen by redshirt junior wide receiver K.J. Hill from Haskins.Even with the lead, Ohio State seemed anything but secure.McSorley was given more than two minutes to go down the field and get into field goal range. This was the player who has never lost a start at home, a guy who torched the Buckeyes defense from start to finish in a game that put him in the record books for the most all-purpose yards in program history with 461.McSorley was given his opportunity, and he was one fourth down conversion away from completing it. But Ohio State held on. Even with nearly 100 yards less in total offense, even with a lackluster showing for the majority of the game, Ohio State held on.Day said it was all about believing.“The stakes are so high, that sometimes, you can let your emotions take over,” Day said. “Our kids didn’t do that, they hung in there, they believed and they made plays and they won the game.”Now, No. 4 Ohio State has that statement victory, that major win that could hold prove to be big when the committee begins rankings for the College Football Playoff.But the Buckeyes are far from an unstoppable force, and the victory only masks the various errors made on both sides of the ball.Ohio State needs to fix how it handles read options, McSorley broke the rushing record by a Penn State quarterback with 175 yards. Ohio State needs to fix its ability to contain big plays, this is the second time in three weeks a team has broken a 93-yard play for a touchdown, the first two times this has ever happened in program history.Ohio State needs to fix many things, and a win in Happy Valley doesn’t change that.

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