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Ohio State's Defense Delivers in Overtime Win Over Penn State

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Ohio State’s winning streak since losing at home to Virginia Tech has been fueled by the offense. This has overshadowed the work being done with the Buckeyes on defense this season. On Saturday night in Happy Valley, the defense carried Ohio State in the first half and was a big reason why Ohio State left State College with a double overtime victory over Penn State instead of a loss.

In what turned out to be a tough battle, Ohio State’s defense set the tone early on. It also benefitted from a controversial video review upholding an interception by defensive back Vonn Bell on the opening drive of the game. Regardless of the video replay questions surrounding it, Ohio State took advantage of a turnover just under two minutes into the game. Bell’s interception gave Ohio State’s offense the football on the Penn State 39-yard line. Seven plays later Ohio State was in the end zone. Ohio State’s defense forced Penn State to punt on each of its next five possessions, and followed that with a fumble recovery and another interception in the third quarter.

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While attention may be given to J.T. Barrett’s performance in place of Braxton Miller this season, defensive lineman Joey Bosa has had a coming of age stretch as well. Bosa has been difficult to slow down this season and he had 2.5 sacks Saturday night. The most important one came on the final play of the game when Bosa drove Penn State running back Akeel Lynch into quarterback Christian Hackenberg on fourth down of the second overtime. As Bosa shoved Lynch back into Hackenberg, the Penn State quarterback fell to the ground to seal the victory for the Buckeyes. If Ohio State continues to get more of that level of play on defense moving forward, Ohio State will continue to remain in the Big Ten and College Football Playoff mix moving forward. Michigan State looms in two weeks.

Of course, Penn State’s struggles on offense should not go without comment. Ohio State was not exactly facing Kerry Collins and Ki-Jana Carter behind a massive offensive line. Ohio State was expected to have its way on defense against a Penn State team that managed just 13 points against Michigan two weeks ago.

Penn State managed to get Ohio State’s defense to bend in the second half, but Ohio State proved to be deep enough and strong enough on defense to set a tone and finish on a high note on defense.

By Kevin McGuire (@KevinonCFB)