No. 2 Penn State suffers heartbreak to No. 6 Ohio State for 1st loss

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No. 2 Penn State suffers heartbreak to No. 6 Ohio State for 1st loss

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — One team’s vindication is another’s heartbreak.

No. 6 Ohio State’s improbable 39-38 comeback victory Saturday night over No. 2 Penn State at Ohio Stadium left the Nittany Lions in a state of shock, a sort of payback, if you will, for last year’s 24-21 upset victory in Happy Valley. 

Leading from the first play of the game, a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Saquon Barkley, to the 1:48 mark of the fourth quarter, James Franklin’s team threw everything it had at the upstart Buckeyes to only see it slip away.

“You got to give Ohio State, the crowd, the environment, the stadium, Coach (Urban) Meyer, his team credit,” said Franklin, who moves to 1-3 against his conference rival from Columbus. “They’re obviously a very, very good football team, (and) it’s a tough place to come and get a win.”

That ruckus environment rose to life in the final minutes of the game, uplifting the host Buckeyes to a late game-winning drive that was capped off with a 16-yard touchdown pass from J.T. Barrett to Marcus Baugh. Barrett’s final scoring throw of four on the day delivered the dagger to a Penn State team that was outscored, 19-3, in the fourth quarter.

“In no way shape or form should anyone have their head down,” tight end Mike Gesicki said. “Obviously, we didn’t have the outcome we wanted, but playing on the road in this kind of atmosphere, to come up that short, we can fix the mistakes, we’ll bounce back.”

Though the Buckeyes faced two 18-point deficits, they managed to set a record for the largest deficit a team coached by Meyer has overcome. Ohio State’s victory came in a game that witnessed two turnovers committed by the home team, one of which led to a Penn State touchdown.

Despite the deficits and the turnovers, though, the No. 6 Buckeyes reversed their fortunes by tightening the clamps on star running back Barkley, moving the ball thanks to a monstrous performance by Barrett (33 for 39, 328 yards, 4 TDs), and a blocked punt with 11:39 remaining in the fourth quarter that for all intents and purposes, changed the complexion of the game.

“The margin of error is very small when you play these types of games,” Franklin said. “I thought the blocked punt was a huge play in the game.”

Additionally, Ohio State’s man coverage allowed the Buckeyes to be more aggressive on defense, sending men at quarterback Trace McSorley from different directions. The Ohio State defense sniffed out the visiting team’s read-option with containment on the edges while sacking McSorley twice.

“They did a good job,” McSorley said. “Especially with that opportunity we had to ice it. They made the plays and we didn’t.”

The opportunity McSorley refers to is a 10-play, 64-yard drive that resulted in a Tyler Davis 24-yard field goal to give Penn State an 11-point lead with 5:42 left in regulation, instead of a touchdown.

“They did some different stuff,” said Barkley after turning in a 172 all-purpose yard day with a pair of touchdowns. “They blitzed us a lot more than they usually did, they stopped the run — we just gotta find a way to run the ball.”

Locked in on arguably the country’s best player, Ohio State’s defense contained Barkley to 80 yards on 21 carries, but 36 of those yards came on his only rushing touchdown of the day.

With only seven days to prepare for a second straight road game, this one against a 6-2 Michigan State team, Franklin wants to see his team improve in the crucial areas that cost them Saturday.

“Our offense has got to sustain drives longer," Franklin said, "but our defense needs to create three-and-outs and get off the field by creating turnovers."

No. 2 Penn State-No. 6 Ohio State observations: Nittany Lions blow 4th-quarter lead in 1st loss

No. 2 Penn State-No. 6 Ohio State observations: Nittany Lions blow 4th-quarter lead in 1st loss

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Up against its toughest task to date, No. 2 Penn State saw three big leads slip away Saturday afternoon in a 39-38 loss to No. 6 Ohio State at Ohio Stadium for its first defeat of the season.

Penn State had leads of 21-3, 35-20 and, with 5:42 left, 38-27, before the Buckeyes stormed back and the Nittany Lions collapsed. 

• Ohio State twice sliced through Penn State's defense, scoring touchdowns on consecutive five-play drives late in the fourth quarter. They needed just 1:22 on the first and 1:19 on the second.

• The Nittany Lions' final two possessions netted minus-9 yards on a combined seven plays (excluding a punt).

• A big play by Ohio State's special teams helped sway momentum, as Penn State punter Blake Gillikin had his punt blocked with 11:39 left in the game. 

• Penn State falls to 7-1 overall and 4-1 in the Big Ten. Ohio State is now 7-1 and 5-0 in conference.

• Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett completed his last 16 pass attempts. Barrett's 16 straight completions are a school record, according to ESPN.

Barrett finished 33 of 39 for 328 yards and four touchdowns. He also added 95 yards on 17 carries.

• Nittany Lions quarterback Trace McSorley continued his terrific 2017 campaign with his 23rd consecutive game with a passing touchdown, and his sixth this season with at least one TD pass and one rushing TD.

McSorley's effort was all the more admirable given the pressure the junior quarterback faced all day. Ohio State's pass rush off the ends flushed McSorley up into or out of the pocket often.

McSorley was 17 of 29 for 192 yards and two passing touchdowns. He also ran for 49 yards and a touchdown.

• Barrett also tossed his 91st career touchdown pass, moving him past Drew Brees on the Big Ten's all-time list. McSorley's pair of scoring tosses moved him within one of Penn State's record (48).

• Saquon Barkley continued to strengthen his case for the Heisman Trophy on Saturday, returning the opening kickoff 97 yards for a score and then adding a 26-yard TD run.

Barkley finished with 172 total yards but just 67 on offense.

• The Nittany Lions' 14 first-quarter points marked the sixth game they've scored 14 or more points in the first 15 minutes of the game.

• After holding Ohio State to three points in the first quarter Saturday, Penn State has outscored opponents, 104-3, in the opening 15 minutes.

• The Buckeyes' comeback victory extends their current win streak to six games, moving head coach Urban Meyer's all-time record to 46-4 when given more than a week to prepare.

Same mistakes haunt Flyers as Sergei Bobrovsky delivers dagger to playoff hopes

Same mistakes haunt Flyers as Sergei Bobrovsky delivers dagger to playoff hopes

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- It's been a while since the Flyers last won at Nationwide Arena -- 12 years, to be exact, with Saturday's 1-0 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets extending the orange and black's winless streak in Ohio's capital to 10 games.
 
With the playoffs all but out of the equation, it wasn't a lack of effort that plagued the Flyers on Saturday. Dave Hakstol's team peppered Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky with 36 shots. The only problem, of course, is that Bobrovsky stopped every single one of them.

In addition to Bobrovsky's stellar act, Alexander Wennberg's 13th goal of the season -- a tip-in off of a slap shot from the point from Kyle Quincey -- was all Columbus needed to secure points 102 and 103 on the campaign.
 
"Well he's good, and he was really good tonight," Hakstol said of Bobrovsky.

The Russian-born netminder stood tall against the Flyers, a trend he's demonstrated since arriving in Columbus, improving to 8-1-0 with a pair of shutouts against his old team.
 
"Obviously he's done that quite a lot for them," Hakstol said. "He's had a helluva year and it's fair to say he had a huge impact on the hockey game."
 
Opposite of Bobrovsky was Michal Neuvirth, who was fantastic himself, just not as good as Bobrovsky. The newly extended goalie took the loss in his first start in eight games, despite allowing just one goal on 21 total shots. The lone blemish left the 29-year-old goaltender dejected in almost a "what if" manner.
 
"I was playing high so I was trying to stay patient," Neuvirth said. "I didn't expect anybody to tip it in front. Maybe I could've played it differently into my butterfly, I would have a better chance."
 
Although Neuvirth expressed disappointment, he was hardly the reason the Flyers have now dropped 13 of their last 15 games against the Blue Jackets. And while Bobrovsky played the role of a magician yet again, the orange and black's power play continued to sputter, going 0 for 3 on Saturday.
 
"Again, we're getting our chances and it's not going in," defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said. "It's not like we're not getting shots so it's a matter of sticking with it and it'll come."
 
The second-year pro was talking about a power play that has now been held scoreless 40 times in their last 12 games, which has appeared to turn frustration into disgust throughout the room.
 
"We got to find something to get it going," mumbled a disappointed Wayne Simmonds.
 
"I don't know. I have no idea," added Jake Voracek when asked about the power play's vanishing act.
 
With eight games remaining -- all against Eastern Conference teams -- it's safe to say the Flyers are in need of a miracle when it comes to any sort of playoff talk. With four teams ahead of them in the standings, the Flyers will wake up Sunday morning no fewer than eight points out of the Eastern Conference's second wild-card spot (see standings).

With or without them, however, the show will go on. Might as well play the role of the spoiler.
 
For all the frustration and confusion, one thing is certain: their next opponent (Pittsburgh) will be getting a very angry opponent.