No. 1 Ohio State 38, Penn State 10: Saquon Barkley shines, but Penn State still far from ready for primetime


Penn State loses to No. 1 despite Barkley’s breakout performance

Quick Hits

  • Saquon Barkley rushed for 194 yards; fourth most by a PSU freshman
  • Penn State defense comes up with 10.0 tackles for a loss
  • Penn State goes 1-for-11 on third down conversions
  • Penn State’s losing streak against No. 1 teams extends to four

With No. 1 Ohio State all decked out in black for a primetime matchup against Penn State, the Nittany Lions were looking for any glimmer of hope in a stadium that has traditionally been an extremely difficult place to find it since they joined the Big Ten. On Saturday night in Ohio Stadium, Penn State started well but would quickly get caught in a long battle of field position. This is the type of game Penn State is simply not suited for at this point in time, and the Buckeyes held on to flex some muscle and show off some speed advantages it has in a 38-10 victory over Penn State.

Penn State’s offense battled poor field position all night long, and it had no way of digging out of the holes. Penn State had drives start from inside its own 10-yard line four times, and each time the offense was forced to punt after just three plays on three of those drives. Considering Penn State’s weakness punting the football, this gave Ohio State a decisive edge and that made for a tall order for Penn State’s defense.

It was only a matter of time before Penn State;s defense would bend. It held firm for a quarter, blanking the Buckeyes in the first quarter (which had only happened one other time this season). But despite its best efforts, Ohio State had too many weapons for Penn State’s defense. Ezekiel Elliott chugged along for 153 yards and a touchdown. J.T. Barrett came in to play quarterback and provide some juice with his legs, running for 102 yards and two touchdowns while also completing all four of his pass attempts, two of those going for touchdowns. Braxton Miller chipped in with 63 total yards of offense and a touchdown. There was just too much speed to tie down for four quarters, especially with short fields for most of the night.

There was, however, a glimmer of hope for Penn State’s future. Freshman running back Saquon Barkley got back on the field and put on quite the show in front of a national television audience. Barkley went off for 194 yards and showed off his moves that have already gotten fans excited in the first half of the season. He also had a big touchdown run pulled off the board due to a holding penalty.

Barkley should now be a main piece of this Penn State offense, and he should put up some solid numbers the rest of the way. He has the ability to make up for some warts on an offensive line still in rebuilding mode and can take the pressure off quarterback Christian Hackenberg as well. The question that needs to be answered is how much James Franklin and John Donovan will consider relying on the freshman. Franklin ha stressed the reluctance and caution with overusing freshmen.

Sometimes you have to let the freshmen leave their impact.

If nothing else, Saturday night was another reminder Penn State still has a long way to go before being up to par with the best programs in the Big Ten, and the nation. The recruiting efforts must continue to bring in good, quality talent and the young players coming in will have to develop. This takes time and will be the biggest challenge for Franklin and his staff. Good times are coming. These are just the growing pains every rebuilding program must experience coming off of NCAA sanctions. Time for those excuses will run out soon, but for now this remains the reality of the program.

Player of the Game: QB J.T. Barrett, Ohio State

Enough cannot be said about the breakout performance by Saquon Barkley or the production Ezekiel Elliott had running the football for their respective teams. If I had to hand out a game ball though, I’m handing it to Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett simply for being able to provide a spark to the Ohio State offense and giving the offense more versatility when he was on the field. The offense just had a different feel for it with Barrett on the field, and I really cannot understand why he is not playing more regularly for Urban Meyer.

What’s Next?

Penn State is back on the road this weekend when they take on Maryland down in Baltimore. The game will be played in M&T Bank Stadium, home of the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens. Penn State will be looking to rebound from a loss while also picking up revenge against the Terrapins from last season. Maryland came to Penn State, started some macho stuff as the teams took the field, refused to shake hands and then celebrated a win for just the second time in series history. If ever there was a game Penn State should have circled on its schedule this season, this really is it.

Maryland will enter the game having a bye week to prepare and make a sudden coaching transition. Last week Maryland fired Randy Edsall and named Mike Locksley its interim head coach.

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