Sketchy officiating pushes Buckeyes to first-half lead on Nittany Lions
Ohio State caught an incredibly fortunate break on a blown instant replay review early in the first quarter, and it was all downhill from there officiating-wise and scoreboard-wise for home-standing Penn State.
The Buckeyes scored on The Interception That Wasn’t seven plays later and never looked back, grabbing a 17-3 lead and heading into the locker room. A Vonn Bell “interception” on the Nittany Lions’ fourth play from scrimmage obviously hit the ground and should’ve been overturned, but there was some type of issue in the replay booth that didn’t allow the replay official to see the proper feed.
OSU caught a break on its next scoring drive as well as the play clock appeared to be at zero for at least two seconds before the snap on what turned out to be a 49-yard field goal that pushed the lead to 10-0.
The officiating gaffes didn’t necessarily cause Penn State’s double-digit deficit at the half... wait, yes it did. Well, that and OSU’s punishing ground attack
The Nittany Lions entered the game as the nation’s top defense against the run, giving up 60.8 yards per game; the Buckeyes totaled 84... in the first quarter alone en route to a 119-yard rushing effort in the first half. Running back Ezekiel Elliott and quarterback J.T. Barrett accounted for all of those yards, with 76 going to the former and 46 for the latter (there was a minus-three yard run credited to “team” at the end of the half).
Field position also played a pivotal role in each team’s success, or lack thereof. Penn State started all six of its first-half drive from inside its 25-yard line, including three inside the 20. Ohio State, meanwhile, started all but one of its six drives from outside its own 25-yard line. OSU’s starting position was an average of 20 yards better than PSU’s.
The Buckeyes, already up, will get the kickoff to open the second half.