Week 5 in college football brought us an instant classic between Big Ten rivals Ohio State and Penn State, incredible quarterback performances and much more
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — No. 4 Ohio State outlasted No. 9 Penn State 27-26 in a thriller at Beaver Stadium. Here are three things we learned from the Buckeyes’ win:
1. Ohio State cements its place as the leader of the Big Ten Conference. It wasn’t a beautiful performance, beginning with a listless first half capped by a touchdown late in the second quarter that shifted momentum. But the second half saw Ohio State find just enough rhythm on offense and just enough of a backbone on defense to escape Beaver Stadium with perhaps the most impressive win by any team through the first month of the season.
That it wasn’t a complete performance leaves Ohio State with ample room for improvement as the calendar turns to October. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins was rattled early before finding his footing. The defense continues to allow big plays. Penalties might be the Buckeyes’ biggest single issue. Urban Meyer’s team is still 5-0 heading into games against Indiana, Minnesota, Purdue and Nebraska.
2. Can Ohio State run with Alabama? It’s the question facing every team with eyes on the Playoff. There’s no doubt that Alabama has looked the part through the first month. Has Ohio State? At times, yes. At others, however, the Buckeyes have looked very beatable. So the short answer: Based on how both teams have looked, Ohio State needs to clean up the little things before being viewed as the Tide’s greatest threat for another national title.
But there’s no doubting Ohio State’s speed and athleticism. And there’s no questioning the team’s ability to weather a hostile road environment and two tough deficits against an elite opponent. The Buckeyes were down 13-0 in the first half and 26-14 in the fourth quarter and found a way to pull out one of the most impressive wins by any team in the country so far this season.
3. Trace McSorley should be front and center in the Heisman Trophy race. Penn State’s senior quarterback had 274 yards of total offense in the first half alone, a good portion coming on a 93-yard touchdown catch and run by receiver K.J. Hamler. He was the whole offense in the second half, escaping Ohio State’s blitz to move the chains and buying just enough time to find receivers downfield. In total, he set the Penn State single-game record for total offense despite being the only weapon Ohio State had to monitor on every play. Even in the loss, this sort of performance should resonate with Heisman voters.