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Fields, Buckeyes enjoy big night in 38-25 win over PSU

Photo by Penn State Athletics: QB Sean Clifford

UNIVERSITY PARK — Too much Justin Fields. That’s pretty much the story of No. 18 Penn State’s big showdown against No. 3 Ohio State on Saturday, and why the Lions are now off to an 0-2 start and out of the College Football Playoff picture.

Fields, the Buckeyes’ electrifying quarterback and a leading contender for the Heisman Trophy, torched Penn State’s defense in a 38-25 victory at Beaver Stadium.

The Buckeyes took control right from the outset with a 62-yard run on the first play from scrimmage that set up a touchdown. Then they made it 14-0 moments later after stopping No. 18 Penn State on fourth down and scoring again.

Penn State had to play catch up the rest of the night, and while the Nittany Lions played much better offensively in the second half, they just weren’t able to stop Fields and the Buckeye offense.

Fields finished 28-of-34 for 318 yards and four TDs. He had two receivers — Chris Olave (120) and Garrett Wilson (111) with more than 100 yards receiving. And Master Teague III carried 23 times for 110 yards.

Ohio State gained 526 yards, the first time since 2013 against UCF that an opposing team topped 500 yards at Beaver Stadium.

Penn State had only 75 yards of offense in the first half but did better in the second half and finished with 325.

Sean Clifford was 18-of-30 for 281 yards with three TDs and one interception.

Jahan Dotson had a huge night with eight catches for 144 yards and three TDs, including a sensational one-handed grab for a score.

This was the first play of the game, and things didn’t get a whole lot better for PSU after this.

On the Lions’ first series, James Franklin decided to go for it on fourth-and-2 from his own 45. The gamble backfired as Clifford’s pass was incomplete, and the Buckeyes got the ball in plus territory.

Ohio State needed just five plays to reach the end zone, with Fields finding Olave from 26 yards out to make it 14-0 with 8:39 left in the first.

It was 21-6 at the half, and Penn State’s offense made a game of it with a touchdown to start the third quarter. But the defense just couldn’t stop Fields and the Buckeyes, who consistently moved right down the field all night.

Update: 10:50 p.m.

Ohio State 38, Penn State 25: The Lions put together another good drive and scored on a 20-yard throw from Clifford to Dotson with 6:27 to go. Once again, the 2-point conversion try failed as Clifford misfired. The Lions tried an onside kick, and Ohio State recovered.

Update: 10:38 p.m.

Ohio State 38, Penn State 19: Fields and the Buckeyes once again marched right down the field to answer PSU’s TD. Fields hit Garrett Wilson for a 26-yard gain to convert a third-and-5, and he converted a fourth-and-1 with a 2-yard pass. Fields finished off the drive when, on fourth-and-goal from the 1, he faked a run and threw a TD pass to Jeremy Ruckert.

Update: 10:27 p.m.

Ohio State 31, Penn State 19: Jahan Dotson made a spectacular one-handed catch for a TD, one of the best catches we’ve seen so far in college football this season. Seconds earlier, Dotson made an excellent grab on a 37-yard pass that converted a third-and-17. But Dotson outdid himself on the TD grab, getting some separation and making this tremendous catch. Sean Clifford was stopped on the 2-point conversion try.

Here’s a look at both catches by Dotson, back to back.

Update: 10:12 p.m.

Ohio State 31, Penn State 13: Master Teague III had a 31-yard run to help the Buckeyes move down the field again, and Fields had a couple of key completions. The Buckeyes stalled after getting first down at the 11, though, and had to settle for a 22-yard field goal by Dominic DiMaccio.

Update: 9:52 p.m.

Ohio State 28, Penn State 13: Justin Fields threw a gorgeous 49-yard TD pass to Chris Olave with 8:41 left in the third. On the pass, Olave got behind backup cornerback Marquis Wilson, who was in for Joey Porter Jr., who had suffered a leg injury. Earlier in the drive, Ohio State converted a key third-and-4 to keep its offense on the field and prevent PSU from getting more momentum.

Update: 9:45 p.m.

Ohio State 21, Penn State 13: The Lions got right back in the game with a terrific 75-yard TD drive, matching their entire yardage from the first half. Sean Clifford was 5-for-5 through the air for 75 yards on the drive, with all five completions going for more than 10 yards. Clifford finished off the impressive drive with a 14-yard TD pass to Jahan Dotson over the middle.

Update: 9:17 p.m.

Ohio State 21, Penn State 6: A bizarre situation at the end of the first half gave Penn State a chance to add three points. Ohio State had fourth down with 2 seconds left and tried to run out the clock, but Justin Fields went down too quickly, and PSU got the ball at the Buckeye 33 with 1 second left. Jordan Stout booted a 51-yard field goal as time expired.

Halftime stats:

Update: 9:01 p.m.

Ohio State 21, Penn State 3: The Buckeyes got a big break on a pass interference call on Lamont Wade early in a drive. The pass from Justin Fields misfired on third-and-2, but the pass interference kept the drive alive. Ohio State marched right down the field after that and got a 10-yard TD pass from Fields to Jeremy Ruckert with 2:23 left in the half.

Update: 8:15 p.m.

Ohio State 14, Penn State 3: The Lions put together a nice drive, bailed out by a late-hit on Sean Clifford to keep things alive, and had first down at the Buckeye 11. But they had to settle for a field goal, and field goals don’t win games like this.

Update: 8:05 p.m.

**Sneak peak of my like/don’t like feature. I think fans are really gonna like this.

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Don’t like: The Lions were asleep at the wheel at the outset, giving up a 62-yard run on a jet sweep to Garrett Wilson on the first play from scrimmage. It was a beautiful playcall by the Buckeyes, and executed perfectly on a quick handoff by Justin Fields, but it was more about PSU’s defense just not being ready. At all.

Don’t like: After the long run on the jet sweep, PSU’s defense was still shellshocked and gave up a 9-yard run to the 4, then a 4-yard TD to Master Teague III, with the pile moving forward to carry him into the end zone.

Don’t like: The decision to go for it on fourth-and-2 on the first offensive series was … dumb. I love being aggressive on fourth down and usually like it when teams go for it. It shows you’re playing to win instead of playing not to lose. But in this situation, it was ill-advised. It was too big of a risk right off the bat, in a game the Lions already trailed 7-0, it was too risky. It gave Ohio State the ball at the PSU 45, and they drove right in for a TD and 14-0 lead.

Don’t like: Ohio State needed only five plays after the failed fourth-down try to find the end zone. It became evident here that PSU’s defensive backs couldn’t cover the Buckeye receivers.

Like: Man, what a gorgeous throw and catch by Justin Fields to Chris Olave on the 26-yard TD to make it 14-0. That was impressive, with Olave making a terrific catch over defender Joey Porter Jr.

Update: 8:02 p.m.

Ohio State 14, Penn State 0: The Lions gambled on fourth-and-2 from their own 45 on their opening series, and it backfired in a big way. Sean Clifford was forced to roll out and couldn’t connect on a throw. Ohio State needed just five plays to find the end zone, with Justin Fields tossing a beautiful 26-yard TD pass to Chris Olave, who made an excellent catch over defender Joey Porter Jr.

Update: 7:47 p.m.

Ohio State 7, Penn State 0: Garrett Wilson took a jet sweep handoff on the first play and raced 62 yards to the PSU 14. Master Teague III went for 9 yards on the next play, then for 4 yards up the middle for a TD with 13:43 left in the first.

Update: 7 p.m.

**WR Cam Sullivan-Brown is in uniform and warming up. He missed last week’s opener for undisclosed reasons.

For Ohio State, WR Chris Olave is warming up. He was questionable after taking a shot to the head last week.

Update: 6:50 p.m.

**Not gonna lie, it feels weird at Beaver Stadium.

I drove around the stadium and downtown State College for about 25 minutes to see if people were gathering in large groups. Good news. They weren’t. I saw a few groups of 8-10 people, but that’s to be expected in a college town. I was pleasantly surprised by everything.

Penn State and local officials have talked extensively about fans not coming into State College for games and not gathering in large crowds.

From what I could gather an hour before kickoff, folks did a good job of adhering to the message.

Update: 12:15 p.m.

**Trace McSorley was the guest picker on GameDay. Of course, former PSU QB picks Lions to upset Ohio State tonight.

McSorley said PSU’s defense will step up, and also noted he expects Jahan Dotson or Parker Washington to get the job done at receiver.

Other GameDay picks:

Desmond Howard: Ohio State, with PSU keeping it close

David Pollack: Ohio State, loss of PSU weapons hurts

Lee Corso: Put on Buckeye head gear to end the show

Update: 11:30 a.m.

**Ohio State is favored by 10.5 points. While many, including me (34-20 score prediction) expect the Buckeyes to cover, history would say that won’t happen.

**James Franklin talked about how he hasn’t been able to see his family because of COVID. His daughter, Addison, has sickle cell disease, which is an underlying condition for which COVID can be harmful. So Franklin’s wife and two daughters have been living apart from the head coach.

They were reunited, in a sense, this morning at Beaver Stadium.

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Cory Giger is a 15-year veteran of the Penn State beat and a journalist with 28 years of experience. He has won more than 100 state and national journalism awards during his career, plus he's a voter for the Heisman Trophy in football and Wooden Award in basketball.

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