Nazim Trammell-Wells | Contributing Writer
A fierce showdown between the Ohio State Buckeyes and Penn State Nittany Lions on Oct. 28 shook the football landscape.
The excitement for the heated rivalry game only grew due to the teams’ rankings in the top 10, with Penn State at No. 2 and Ohio State at No. 6. To add on to the already high stakes, both teams are aiming for the national championship playoffs that only allow the top four teams in the nation to participate.
Penn State started off the game strong. Heisman Award front-runner Saquon Barkley was as good as advertised; he returned the opening game kickoff for 97 yards to start the game off 7-0. Shortly after, a fumble by the Buckeyes was recovered by Penn State linebacker Koa Farmer. This put the Nittany Lions in the position to eventually score again, making the game 14-3 in only the first quarter. With Penn State scoring so effortlessly, Ohio State found itself in a big hole, a hole so big that it made the highly anticipated game look like it was going to be a blowout.
After a slow start, Ohio State rallied together to make the game competitive. Ohio State finally got into the end zone twice in the second quarter with a 2-yard run from Mike Weber and a touchdown pass from star QB J.T. Barrett. A productive second quarter from the Buckeyes put them in striking range at the half, with the score 28-17.
The Buckeyes still hadn’t improved after halftime, only kicking a field goal and getting stopped on multiple drives. They ended the third quarter with the score 35-20, but the Buckeyes found motivation after a controversial call. A pass that caused two players to wrestle for the ball appeared to be an Ohio State interception, but it was overruled by officials and credited as a Penn State touchdown.
Usually, this would be a deflating momentum shift, but Barrett played the game of his life. He connected with Johnnie Dixon twice in the fourth quarter, first on a 41-yard touchdown at the 11-minute mark and then on a 10-yard score with 4:20 remaining. Later on, Barrett gave Ohio State the lead with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Baugh. Overall, in the fourth quarter, Ohio State outscored Penn State 19-3.
Barrett finished with 328 yards and 4 touchdowns. He also ran for 95 yards. Barrett was 13 for 13 passing for 170 yards in the fourth quarter. OSU propelled itself into the national championship conversation.
Hampton track runner Sissy Farmer, sister of a Penn State linebacker, had this to say about the playoff implications of the loss for Penn State: “I think the game Saturday affects the conference and the national playoffs. But I do believe that there’s [still] a chance for PSU.”