Penn State football

No. 9 Penn State can't come all the way back to beat No. 2 Ohio State

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USA Today Images/Greg Bartram

No. 9 Penn State can't come all the way back to beat No. 2 Ohio State

BOX SCORE 

COLUMBUS, Ohio — After cruising through the first 10 games against teams that didn’t put up much a fight, No. 2 Ohio State found itself in a slugfest with No. 9 Penn State.

The Buckeyes responded, winning with defense.

Justin Hillard intercepted Penn State backup Will Levis’ pass and the Buckeyes stopped the Nittany Lions on fourth down on two late drives to seal a 28-17 victory and lock up the Big Ten East title.

J.K. Dobbins rushed for 157 yards and two touchdowns, and Justin Fields threw for 188 yards and two scores for Ohio State (10-0, 8-0).

Ohio State held on after Penn State (9-2, 7-2) took advantage of two second-half turnovers to climb back in the game after trailing 21-0. This was a far different scenario for Ohio State, which hadn’t yet had to play hard into the second half.

“We talked about going into a big heavyweight match, and you have to take shots,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. “One of the things about playing in a game like this is you have to be willing to take punches and you have to not flinch when it happens. That was a great example. That was the first time we really were taking shots there.”

The Buckeyes were clinging to a 21-17 lead early in the fourth quarter when Fields threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to Chris Olave to create some breathing room.

Ohio State, with Chase Young back from a two-game suspension, then got the interception from Hillard before shutting down two late Penn State drives on fourth down, aided by deafening crowd noise. The last drive included back-to-back sacks of backup quarterback Will Levis by Young and linebacker Baron Browning.

Fields fights back

Fields fumbled away the ball twice, once as he was crossing the goal line for what would have been a touchdown. But he got critical yards on the ground, rushing for 68 yards on 21 carries and threw beautiful second half touchdown passes to K.J. Hill and Olave.

And he got knocked around plenty, and at one point late in the game was slow to get up after being sacked but stayed in the game.

“He’s a warrior, I’m telling you,” Day said. “He’s got the heart of a lion.”

Chase returns

Young was back in action after sitting out two games as a penalty for breaking the rules by accepting a personal loan. And he was a force, picking up nine tackles, including three sacks. He has 16 1/2 for the season, the most ever by a Buckeye.

Clifford out

Freshman QB Levis finished up Penn State’s first scoring drive in the third quarter -- capped by an 18-yard touchdown run by Journey Brown -- after Sean Clifford left the game with an injury. Coach James Franklin said Clifford was available to come back in but wasn’t 100% so he stayed with Levis, who scored on a 1-yard run in the third quarter.

“I was a little nervous the first couple plays, but then it all went away, and I started having fun and doing my thing,” Levis said.

Coincidentally, Levis signed with Penn State after Fields withdrew his commitment to Franklin and chose Georgia in 2018. Fields transferred to Ohio State in January.

The takeaway

Penn State: Statistically, the Nittany Lions were beaten soundly but managed to hang around until late. Journey Brown ran the ball 11 times for 64 yards.

“No one flinched,” Penn State safety Garrett Taylor said. “We came out and fought hard.”

Ohio State: The Buckeyes outgained the Nittany Lions 417-227 but were stricken by uncharacteristic turnovers. Now it’s on to Ann Arbor for the rivalry game against No. 12 Michigan.

“It’s good to have a full game under your belt, especially going into next week,” linebacker Pete Werner said.

Poll implications

Buckeyes should stay put. Nittany Lions could drop but not much after playing Ohio State tough.

Up next

Penn State: Hosts Rutgers next Saturday in season finale.

Ohio State: Winds up the regular season next Saturday with rivalry game against Michigan.

No. 9 Penn State beats Indiana and keeps playoff hopes alive

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USA Today Images/Matthew O'Haren

No. 9 Penn State beats Indiana and keeps playoff hopes alive

BOX SCORE 

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Quarterback Sean Clifford scored three touchdowns Saturday, leading No. 9 Penn State past No. 24 Indiana 34-27 to keep its playoff hopes alive.

Penn State (9-1, 6-1 Big Ten, No. 9 CFP) next week plays at No. 2 Ohio State, where the top spot in the Big Ten East will be on the line.

Clifford also completed 11 of 23 passes for 179 yards and ran for 55 yards. Journey Brown rushed 21 times for 100 yards and added a score. With Penn State ahead by a field goal with 10:45 to play, Clifford led an 18-play, 75-yard drive that ate 9:01 and ended when he plunged in from a yard out to put the game out of reach.

Tight end Nick Bowers caught a 12-yard touchdown pass for the Nittany Lions

Peyton Ramsey completed 31 of 41 passes for 371 yards and a touchdown and ran for two more for the Hoosiers (7-3, 4-3) who outgained Penn State 462 to 371.

After going three-and-out to start the game, the Nittany Lions recovered a muffed punt and scored on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Clifford to Bowers. Ramsey took advantage of a safety blitz on Indiana's next possession and hit an open Ty Fryfogle for 38 yards to make it 7-7.

Jake Pinegar kicked a 47-yard field goal to put Penn State up 10-7, but Indiana took the lead when Ramsey capped a 63-yard drive with a 1-yard run less than three minutes later.

Clifford put Penn State up 17-14 with 1:03 left in the first quarter when he sprinted up the middle for a 38-yard score. Pinegar added a 27-yard field goal to give Penn State a 20-14 halftime lead.

Brown turned another Indiana turnover into a score when he raced 35 yards early in the third. Ramsey scored on another 1-yard run early in the fourth and Logan Justice kicked two field goals for the Hoosiers.

Both players lost their star receivers in the first half. KJ Hamler left in the first quarter after he returned a kickoff but didn't appear shaken up as he walked off.

Indiana's Whop Philyor had to be helped to the locker room after he was sandwiched between Penn State defenders, taking helmet-to-helmet contact from both and fumbling away the ball in the process.

The takeaway

Indiana: The Hoosiers kept Penn State's offense off-balance most of the way. They also got stops on defense until they needed one most late in the fourth quarter.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions, who hadn't allowed a first-quarter touchdown all season before last week, have now allowed four over their last two games. They continued to give up big plays but made enough adjustments at halftime.

Up next 

Indiana hosts No. 14 Michigan

Penn State visits No. 2 Ohio State.

No. 5 Penn State is unbeaten no more after loss to No. 13 Minnesota

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USA Today Images/Jesse Johnson

No. 5 Penn State is unbeaten no more after loss to No. 13 Minnesota

BOX SCORE

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota's Jordan Howden picked off Sean Clifford in the end zone with 1:01 left, the third interception thrown by Penn State's quarterback, and the 13th-ranked Gophers held on for a 31-26 victory on Saturday afternoon over the fifth-ranked Nittany Lions for their first win over a top-five team in 20 years.

Tanner Morgan passed for 339 yards and three touchdowns to direct a dismantling of Penn State's staunch defense, as Minnesota (9-0, 6-0, No. 17 CFP) not only remained undefeated but stayed on track for its first trip to the Big Ten championship game.

The first sellout crowd for the Gophers at home in four years swarmed the field after the clock ran out, reveling in the biggest step forward yet under coach P.J. Fleck in his third season. The Gophers scrambled the College Football Playoff picture, too, after Penn State (8-1, 5-1, No. 4 CFP) emerged with a top-four spot in the first edition of the rankings.

Rashod Bateman got the Gophers going with a 66-yard score on their first possession and finished with seven catches for 203 yards, the second-most in program history. Tyler Johnson had seven receptions for 104 yards and a touchdown, too, as Minnesota made enough early gains to hold up during the late rally by Penn State.

Journey Brown's second rushing touchdown of the game with 3:49 to go cut the lead to five points, and the Gophers promptly went three and out. K.J. Hamler muffed the punt when a teammate backed into him, and though the Nittany Lions recovered, they were pushed back to their 28-yard line.

Clifford, who went 23 for 43 for 340 yards and one score, connected with Jahan Dotson for 49 yards to get Penn State to the 11. Two plays later, however, came the drive killer for Penn State. Daniel George was called for offensive pass interference during an over-the-middle catch by Brown that reached the 2. Clifford, who was off target for most of the day, overthrew George on the next play before the game-sealing pick by Howden. Clifford, who came into the game leading the Big Ten in total offense, had only three interceptions over the first eight games.

Antoine Winfield Jr. had the first two picks in the first half, matching the FBS lead and setting the all-time Minnesota record with seven on the season. Both were inside the 10-yard line.

The Gophers had 321 yards and a 24-13 lead at halftime, already the most points allowed in a game by the Nittany Lions this season, but a fumble near midfield by Shannon Brooks at the end of a run on the first play after a punt sapped some momentum.

Penn State went the other way for a touchdown pass from Clifford to backup tight end Nick Bowers, but Bateman broke open again for a 36-yard gain on the next drive to set up a scoring plunge by Seth Green. The Gophers have touchdowns on all 19 of their goal-to-go possessions this season. Chris Williamson batted down Clifford's fourth-down throw into the end zone on the ensuing drive by Penn State, giving the Gophers another opportunity to drain the clock.

The takeaway

Penn State: Seeking their first berth in the College Football Playoff, the Nittany Lions watched a defense that had allowed the second-fewest points in the FBS entering the game take a step back against a group of Gophers receivers that was the best they'd faced all year.

Minnesota: Ending a 13-game losing streak to ranked opponents and beating a top-five team for the first time since a win at No. 2 Penn State in 1999, the Gophers produced a potentially program-changing victory that has been missing for so many decades. They have a two-game lead in the West Division with three to go.

Poll impliacations 

Penn State could fall behind Minnesota, which will certainly climb into the top 10 when the next rankings come out on Sunday. The loss will also hurt the Nittany Lions in the CFP pecking order, with the Gophers getting a boost but still with a long way to go to be in the mix.

Up next 

Penn State: Hosts Indiana next Saturday. The Nittany Lions have a 21-1 record against the Hoosiers, with the only loss on the road 2013.

Minnesota: Plays at Iowa next Saturday. The Gophers have lost four straight games against the Hawkeyes.