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Smeltzer’s 7: Looking Back at Penn State Football’s Recent History With Ohio State

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA - OCTOBER 29: Penn State Nittany Lions Running Back Kaytron Allen (13) runs with the ball during the second half of the college football game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Penn State Nittany Lions on October 29, 2022, at Beaver Stadium in University Park, PA. (Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)

Penn State and Ohio State are less than 48 hours away from playing football.

The team’s have played football every year since 1993.

Over the past seven seasons, the team’s have played many a close matchup.

Unfortunately for Penn State and its fans, PSU has lost all but one of those matchups. Here’s a breakdown of Penn State and Ohio State’s recent history.


“Super reliable from inside of 40”

Penn State’s most recent win over Ohio State is one of the most famous in program history and, for now, the biggest of the James Franklin era. We should know the story by now. Marcus Allen blocked the kick and Grant Haley returned it for a touchdown.

Penn State won the game, 24-21 and went on to win the Big Ten. Unfortunately, beating Ohio State and winning the Big Ten wasn’t enough to get Penn State to the College Football Playoff. Instead, the committee sent Ohio State, and Penn State wound up playing in the Rose Bowl.

Penn State 24, Ohio State 21


‘The Collapse’ Part I

It’s a game many Penn State fans still haven’t gotten over. PSU had a 15-point fourth quarter lead, and blew it, losing 39-38. Had Penn State won, it would have been in the driver’s seat to win the Big Ten again and, this time, make it to the Playoff. Instead, it collapsed, and then collapsed again the next week at Michigan State. Penn State ended up bouncing back to finish the regular season 10-2 and beat Washington in the Fiesta Bowl for Franklin’s first New Year’s Six win. But the 2017 season will always be remembered by Penn State fans as a case of “what would have been?” The program’s in a similar situation Saturday. Will the result be different?

Ohio State 39, Penn State 38


‘The Collapse’ Part II (or ‘4th and 5’)

The 2018 loss to Ohio State might not have been quite as disheartening as the previous year’s, but boy, was it close. Penn State led 26-14 in the fourth quarter. But the defense, which had played well bulk of the first three quarters, folded down the stretch to allow a pair of touchdowns in less than five minutes and put Ohio State in front. What fans remember most from that game is Penn State’s last possession.

With 1:16 left, Penn State faced a 4th and 5 at the Ohio State 45. QB Trace McSorley, who had 451 total yards, didn’t get a chance to make a play. Instead, he handed it to Miles Sanders and, well, you know the rest. This game was frustrating enough to lead to what’s still Franklin’s most famous presser.

Ohio State 27, Penn State 26


Not enough firepower

There was no collapse in Penn State’s 2019 loss at Ohio State, and the closest thing to a collapse happened on the other side. Things looked bleak for Penn State. The team was down 21-0 about midway through the third quarter, and starting QB Sean Clifford got knocked out of the game. Backup Will Levis came in and helped Penn State to 17 unanswered points to close the gap to four points by the end of the third quarter. But Penn State’s offense stalled from there, and a 28-yard touchdown pass from Justin Fields to Chris Olave— both future first-round picks— put OSU back in command. That was the last time Penn State played in Columbus at noon on Fox. This year’s game is at the same time and on the same channel.

Ohio State 28, Penn State 17



Twenty twenty was the worst of times and the worst of times for Penn State football. Like everybody else, Penn State had to deal with the pandemic, which made life difficult for even America’s best teams.

Penn State was far from one of America’s best teams. In fact, for the first time since 2004, Penn State lost more games than it won and had to win its last four games to finish 4-5. The second of a brutal five-game skid came against Ohio State on Halloween in a largely empty Beaver Stadium.

Although Penn State receiver Jahan Dotson made the signature play of the game with this catch, Ohio State got the win, again by double digits.

OSU 38, PSU 25


A moral victory 

Penn State was reeling coming into its Columbus two Halloween’s ago. After starting 5-0, PSU dropped from No. 4 in the country to out of the top 20 after a loss at Iowa and a nine-overtime embarrassment to Illinois at Beaver Stadium. Many expected Ohio State to roll over Penn State under the “Horseshoe” lights, but it didn’t quite happen that way. Penn State was in it the whole way, eventually losing by nine but avoiding the embarrassment many forecasted. Unfortunately for Penn State, it wasn’t a sign of better days ahead for the rest of 2021. PSU ended up losing three of its next five to finish 7-6 and unranked. But Franklin and company put a much better product on the field the next season.

OSU 33, PSU 24


Still fresh 

Penn State could have beat Ohio State last year. With nine minutes left, PSU led 21-16 and Beaver Stadium was rocking. But it wouldn’t stay rocking.

It took Ohio State three plays to retake the lead, doing so on a 41-yard touchdown run by TreVeyon Henderson. Two plays later, J.T. Tuimoloau sacked Sean Clifford and forced a fumble, which he recovered at the Penn State 24. On the next play, CJ Stroud hit tight end Cade Stover for a 24-yard score.

It was all Buckeyes from there, and the loss is still fresh in Penn State’s collective mind.

OSU 44, PSU 31

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