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

BOX SCORE

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."

Penn State stays put in College Football Playoff rankings

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Penn State stays put in College Football Playoff rankings

Penn State's College Football Playoff chances remained the same Tuesday night.

The Nittany Lions are still a long shot.

James Franklin's team stayed put at No. 10 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings despite beating Nebraska last Saturday, 56-44, in its home finale.

The Nittany Lions close out the regular season this Saturday at Maryland.

Penn State (9-2, 6-2 Big Ten) missed out on the Dec. 2 Big Ten title game after losing back-to-back contests to Ohio State and Michigan State. The Nittany Lions have since won two straight and seem destined for a New Year's Six bowl with the College Football Playoff almost entirely out of reach.

Speaking of such, Miami made a small but potentially significant move up to No. 2 behind Alabama in the CFP rankings, with Clemson slipping one spot to three and Oklahoma holding at four.

Wisconsin and Auburn remained next up behind the top four in a week when the top half of the selection committee's rankings were mostly unchanged.

Georgia, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State and Southern California followed in the same order as they did last week. Over the next two weeks, every team in the top nine will play another team ranked in the committee's top 25, including four games matching top playoff contenders.

The Crimson Tide will play at Auburn on Saturday to decide a spot in the Southeastern Conference championship on Dec. 2. The winner plays Georgia.

The Atlantic Coast Conference championship will match Clemson and Miami on Dec. 2, and Wisconsin and Ohio State play in the Big Ten championship.

Miami's move comes after rallying to beat Virginia last Saturday. Committee chairman Kirby Hocutt said Miami is showing characteristics of a championship team.

"When you get down the way Miami did to Virginia two times, once in each half, and you have the poise and the ability to come back and win in a convincing manner, that is special," said Hocutt, the Texas Tech athletic director.

The Hurricanes (10-0) play at Pitt Friday and now seem better positioned to get into the playoff even with a loss to Clemson, depending on how things play out in other conferences.

Central Florida came in at No. 15 and Memphis is 20th, the highest ranked teams from outside the Power Five. The American Athletic Conference rivals could meet in the league title game in two weeks if UCF beats USF on Black Friday, setting up a game that would likely send the winner into a New Year's Six bowl.

How does this play out?
On championship Saturday, the selection committee gathers at the Dallas-area resort hotel where it holds its weekly meeting to watch games together. When the games are done, Hocutt and his crew of 12 experts dig into the results and put together their final, and only truly meaningful, top 25.

Will it be a late night at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine or will the committee members be able to uncork a bottle of wine during the second half of the ACC title game? A lot depends on Alabama.

The Crimson Tide could essentially eliminate two other playoff contenders in Auburn and Georgia. The Tigers have no shot if they don't win the Iron Bowl and the SEC title. Georgia at 11-2 with a loss in the conference title game could still have a flicker of hope to be the second SEC team in the playoff, but would need a lot of help.

At 13-0, the Crimson Tide would be seeded No. 1 and heading to New Orleans to play in the Sugar Bowl semifinal. Easy.

If Alabama loses the Iron Bowl or wins that and loses the SEC championship game, it means the committee will likely be ordering up a couple extra pots of coffee instead of a nice pinot noir.

The SEC champion is pretty much a lock to get in. But what to do with Alabama at 11-1 or 12-1? The Crimson Tide has been the most dominant team all season, rarely challenged on the field. Nick Saban's Tide, loaded with five-star recruits and future high draft picks, will always pass the eye test. Alabama's best wins now are against LSU and Mississippi State, both 8-3.

Alabama is the only team to make the playoff all three seasons. Is the committee prepared to leave the Tide out?

The next team that can help clear things up for the committee is Wisconsin.

The committee is not thrilled with the Badgers' schedule, but Wisconsin can get a marquee victory in the Big Ten title game — as long as Ohio State takes care of Michigan on Saturday. At 13-0 and with a conference championship, the committee can replace the ACC championship loser with Wisconsin in the top four.

Wisconsin can also eliminate Ohio State and its 31-point loss to Iowa. A Wisconsin loss to Ohio State — or Oklahoma losing to TCU in the Big 12 title game — opens to the door to consideration of two-loss teams that could bring Notre Dame and USC back into the discussion.

The committee could be weighing two-loss conference champions against one-loss teams with no titles. Last year Ohio State was the latter and got in on the strength of three victories against top-10 teams. No contender can match that without winning its conference this season, which could make the decision much tougher this time.

Penn State falls for 1st time this season to No. 16 Texas A&M

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Penn State falls for 1st time this season to No. 16 Texas A&M

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK -- Without prompting, Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy and Robert Williams and Duane Wilson took turns speaking about the long term aspirations for the Aggies.

The words they used were `'special" and "March."

No false modesty here. The 16th-ranked Aggies know they're good and have set their sights on the NCAA Tournament, facts that they unequivocally reiterated after a 98-87 victory over Penn State in the championship game of the Progressive Legends Classic on Tuesday night at Barclays Center.

"It shows we're capable of doing something special," Kennedy said.

Indeed.

All it takes is a brief glance at the final stat sheet to support his argument. Five Aggies finished in double figures. Williams finished with 21 points and nine rebounds. Wilson led the Aggies (4-0) with 22 points while Tyler Davis chipped in 15, Admon Gilder had 14 and Tonny Torcha-Morelos finished with 11.

"We're deep. We're talented. We can make special plays," said Kennedy, who later added, "We have a deep team. We have a lot of guys.

"We have a lot of weapons."

A fact which wasn't lost on Penn State coach Pat Chambers.

Despite getting a career-high 31 points from Tony Carr, Penn State (5-1) lost its first game of the season. Lamar Stevens added 25 points for Penn State.

"Our halfcourt defense, specifically our ball screen defense has to be better," said Chambers, who jabbed the table with his fingers for emphasis. "If you told me (DJ Hogg) was only going to have seven (points) and we scored 87, I'd (have) thought we'd be sitting here with a win."

The Aggies took a 42-40 lead into halftime due to Williams' two-hand follow jam with 4 seconds left in the half. Seven of the eight players who got into the game in the first half for Texas A&M scored, led by Williams' 12.

And the Aggies needed every point, as Carr was a one-man offensive onslaught for the Nittany Lions. Carr had 21 points in the opening half on 7-of-8 shooting including 2 for 2 from 3-point range. He made 5 of 6 free throws.

Texas A&M took a 63-51 lead on Wilson's scoop layup 6:41 into the second half. Wilson's layup was the culmination of a stretch in which the Aggies outscored the Nittany Lions 21-11.

Following Wilson's layup, Chambers called time out. DJ Hogg hit a 3 for the Aggies, Gilder made two free throws and Williams finished a 2-on-1 break with a two-handed jam off an alley-oop pass which pushed the lead to 70-53.

"Give Texas A&M credit. They jumped us," Chambers said. "They got to a big lead."

Penn State used an 8-0 run to cut the deficit to 70-61.

After a layup by Gilder pushed the lead to 72-61, the Nittany Lions scored the next five points on a layup by Carr and three free throws from Stevens. That was as close as they would get.

"Keep your composure at the end," Williams said. "Don't lose it."

Williams was named tournament MVP, and was joined on the all-tournament team by Wilson, Carr, Stevens and Oklahoma State's Jeffrey Carroll.

Big picture
Penn State: The positive for Penn State is that Carr and Stevens combined for 56 points. The negative? The rest of the Nittany Lions totaled 31.

Texas A&M: The defensively stout Aggies were able to flex their offensive muscle against Penn State. Texas A&M made 33 of 54 shots (61 percent) from the field and knocked down 26 of 29 (89.7 percent) free throws.

Notable
Penn State: In the Chambers Era, the Nittany Lions are 4-3 all-time in games played in New York City, and 2-2 at games held at Barclays Center.

Texas A&M: The Aggies improved to 4-0 all-time against the Nittany Lions. Texas A&M is 2-0 at neutral site venues against Penn State.

Up next
Penn State: Hosts Oral Roberts on Friday.

Texas A&M: Hosts Pepperdine on Friday.