Ohio State clinched the Big Ten East and solidified its spot in the College Football Playoff top four despite consecutive second-half turnovers that allowed Penn State to get back into the game.
The No. 2 Buckeyes beat the No. 8 Nittany Lions 28-17 after Penn State turned a 21-0 Ohio State lead into a 21-17 game in the third quarter with the help of fumbles by J.K. Dobbins and Justin Fields.
Dobbins fumbled first. His fumble came a play after Penn State scored its first touchdown of the game on an 18-yard run by Journey Brown that made the game 21-7.
Penn State pulled within seven when backup QB Will Levis scored a one-yard touchdown. Levis entered the game in the second half after Sean Clifford suffered an apparent right ankle injury when he went down awkwardly early in the third quarter.
Three plays after Levis’ touchdown, Fields lost a fumble, though it was super close. His knee might have been down but the fumble was called on the field and stood on a replay review.
Penn State then cut the deficit to four and the teams traded punts before Chris Olave made a fantastic touchdown catch to restore Ohio State’s two-score lead.
Levis performed admirably in relief of Clifford but made his worst play of the day on the possession after Olave’s touchdown when he threw this inexplicable interception.
Penn State was the only team that could have caught Ohio State in the Big Ten East as a win over the Buckeyes, and a win to end the season against Rutgers would have won the division for the Nittany Lions. Instead, Ohio State has the division wrapped up ahead of the always-critical rivalry game against Michigan next week since the Wolverines have two Big Ten losses.
Late Justin Fields injury scare
Fields made a case for a trip to New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony despite two fumbles and a late injury scare. He was an effective runner — especially on third and fourth downs — and made some great throws. Fields finished the game 16-of-22 passing for 188 yards and also had 68 rushing yards.
Fields, a transfer from Georgia, has been overshadowed by the performances of LSU’s Joe Burrow, Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa in 2019. But with Tagovailoa missing the rest of the season because of a hip injury and Hurts’ recent turnover struggles, some continued excellence by Fields could position him as Burrow’s top rival for the award. As long as he’s healthy.
Fields went down awkwardly as his left ankle rolled under a Penn State defender with just over two minutes to go as Ohio State was trying to run down the clock. Fields was down on the ground in pain after the play for a moment, but jogged off the field after being tended to by Ohio State’s medical staff.
Fields returned to the field for Ohio State’s last possession of the game and OSU coach Ryan Day said after the game that he thought Fields was “fine.”
Buckeyes had three turnovers
Ohio State led 14-0 at halftime and that lead could have easily been 21-0. Fields’ first fumble of the game came a yard before the end zone when he got stripped as he was diving toward the goal line.
The Buckeyes dominated the first 30 minutes of the game as Penn State only got into Ohio State territory twice. And it punted each time. The first punt came on a fourth-and-4 on the Ohio State 42 and the second came on a fourth-and-8 on the Ohio State 37. The Nittany Lions had five possessions in the first half. All of them ended with punts.
Chase Young returns, gets three sacks
Defensive end Chase Young returned from his two-game NCAA suspension on Saturday. And he made an immediate impact. Young notched three sacks and multiple hurries as Penn State wasn’t able to block him consistently one-on-one. Though, to be fair, eligibility concerns are the only thing that’s stopped Young this season.
He sat out the previous two games after it became known that he accepted money (that was subsequently repaid) from an agent to fly his girlfriend to the Rose Bowl at the end of the 2018 season.
Despite the suspension, Young has 16 sacks this season. That breaks the previous Ohio State single-season record of 14 that was set by Vernon Gholston in 2007.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports
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