COLUMBUS, Ohio – Three takeaways Saturday from No. 9 Penn State’s 28-17 loss to No. 2 Ohio State before a crowd of 104,355 at Ohio Stadium:
Quite a relief job by Will Levis
Levis came on early in the third quarter after starting quarterback Sean Clifford was hit after throwing a pass and suffered an apparent leg injury, and the 6-foot-3, 229-pound redshirt freshman used mostly his legs to get Penn State back into the game. He finished off a 75-yard drive started by Clifford, running for 10 yards on third-and-4 to set up Journey Brown’s 18-yard dash for the Lions’ first touchdown. After a fumble recovery by Lamont Wade at the Buckeyes 12, Fries threw a dart to tight end Pat Freiermuth for 11 yards and crashed in himself from a yard out for the team’s second TD in 25 seconds. He rushed for 19 yards on three carries to lead Penn State to a 42-yard field goal by Jake Pinegar later in the third. However, he made mistakes of inexperience, like taking a sack before the field goal and throwing an interception at the Penn State 20 when no window existed to get the ball to Freiermuth. Still, head coach James Franklin, a big Levis booster, had to be pleased with what the quarterback did under pressure on the road in front of more than 104,000 people.
Fields could have been a great Nittany Lion
Quarterback Justin Fields first committed to Penn State out of high school in Kennesaw, Ga., but later withdrew his commitment, pledged to Georgia, threw 39 passes in his one season playing behind Jake Fromm, and transferred to Ohio State, where he got to play without sitting out a season. The Buckeyes are an extremely talented team, but Fields is a big reason they’re 11-0 after Saturday’s win. He rushed 20 times for 67 yards, including a 22-yard run on a fourth-and-5 that set up Ohio State’s second touchdown. He completed 15 of 21 passes for 183 yards, showing a strong arm on sideline routes to the wide side of the field and a great touch on his two touchdown passes – 24 yards to K.J. Hill and 28 yards to Chris Olave. Fields now has 33 touchdown passes on the season – with only one interception.
Penn State defense hung in there
The Nittany Lions gave up 417 yards to the nation’s No. 4 team in total offense but held them to 28 points, well below the Buckeyes’ average of 51.5. The defense forced three turnovers, including two in the third quarter that led to 10 points, with safety Lamont Wade forcing two and linebacker Micah Parsons one. The Nittany Lions also recorded three sacks and 10 tackles for losses, with defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos accounting for two sacks and 3½ tackles behind the line of scrimmage. The unit got off to a slow start but came back in the second half, holding Ohio State to just 141 total yards.