Ohio State football

Penn State drops to No. 7 in AP poll following 1st loss

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Penn State drops to No. 7 in AP poll following 1st loss

Everything was going well for James Franklin and No. 2 Penn State, as the Nittany Lions entered the fourth quarter with a 15-point advantage Saturday over Ohio State.

Then Buckeyes quarterback J.T. Barrett threw for three touchdowns in the final quarter to defeat the Nittany Lions in heartbreaking fashion, 39-38.

As a result, the Nittany Lions fell to No. 7 in the latest AP poll, their worst position of the season.

Georgia moved up to No. 2 and took two first-place votes from top-ranked Alabama in a major reshuffling of the top 10 in The Associated Press college football poll.

Every team in the top 10 except idle Alabama changed positions in the poll released Sunday following Ohio State's last-second victory over Penn State and Iowa State's win over TCU. The Crimson Tide finished with 59 first-place votes, and Georgia snared two after turning the "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party" into a 42-7 runaway over rival Florida.

Ohio State moved up three places after rallying to beat then-No. 2 Penn State, Wisconsin climbed one spot to No. 4 and Notre Dame rounded out the top 5 by moving up four places.

Penn State dropped to No. 7 behind Clemson, followed by Oklahoma, Miami and TCU, which dropped six spots after its 14-7 loss to the Cyclones .

Alabama and Georgia give the SEC the top two spots in the poll for the first time since 2013. The last conference to go 1-2 in the poll was the Big Ten in 2015, when Ohio State and Michigan State sat atop the poll.

To view the rest of the AP poll, click here.

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."

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

BOX SCORE

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.