Ohio State football: 6 things to know about the series with Penn State

Ohio State and Penn State first played more than 100 years ago, but the series did not really heat up until the Nittany Lions joined the Big Ten in the early 1990s.

Here are six things to know about the series, which will be renewed Saturday night at Beaver Stadium in University Park, Pa.

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1. Penn State won the first four meetings.

The series began in 1912 with a 37-0 Penn State victory in Columbus.

The Nittany Lions returned 44 years later to eke out a 7-6 win over fifth-ranked Ohio State, and they won back-to-back games in 1963 (10-7) and ’64 27-0).

Despite that inauspicious start, the Buckeyes have an 18-14 lead in the series (not counting a 2010 OSU win vacated because of NCAA violations). That includes a 16-8 mark since Penn State joined the Big Ten (again not counting the 2010 result).

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2. Ohio State picked up its first win in 1975.

Pete Johnson ran for 112 yards and two touchdowns as the third-ranked Buckeyes beat No. 7 Penn State in the second game of the season. Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin ran for 128 yards as well.

The Buckeyes won another top 10-matchup the following season in the first game between the teams in Happy Valley. Jeff Logan was the star with 160 yards rushing. Quarterback Rod Gerald completed only one of his three pass attempts, bu the added 52 yards on the ground for the second-ranked Buckeyes.

3. 2018 will be the 26th consecutive year the teams have played each other.

The first meeting between Ohio State and Penn State as Big Ten members came at Ohio Stadium in 1993.

The Buckeyes dominated that Oct. 30 matchup 24-6 en route to winning a share of the conference title.

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Middletown native Jeff Cothran caught a 29-yard pass and as fullback helped clear the way for Raymont Harris to run for 159 yards and a touchdown.

Dunbar graduate and future Bengal Dan “Big Daddy” Wilkinson had a sack for the Buckeyes while Piqua native and fellow defensive lineman Matt Finkes logged four tackles.

4. Local contributors are common. 

Two of Ohio State’s most significant wins in the Big Ten era were led by quarterbacks from St. Henry — Bobby Hoying in 1995 and Todd Boeckman in 2007.

Brandon Saine, a running back from Piqua, scored the last touchdown in OSU’s 24-7 win in 2009, while Braxton Miller of Wayne had a hand in 11 touchdowns in his four games against the Nittany Lions from 2011-15.

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Running back Curtis Enis (Mississinawa Valley) and offensive lineman Jeff Hartings (St. Henry) are among locals who were Penn State standouts.

5. Ohio State has won five of its last seven games at Penn State.

Beaver Stadium, usually full of fans decked out in white when the Buckeyes visit, has developed a reputation as a house of horrors since the Nittany Lions stunned sixth-ranked Ohio State 17-10 on a rainy night in 2005. That launched Penn State, coming off a couple of down seasons under coach Joe Paterno, to a share of the Big Ten championship (along with Ohio State) and a BCS bowl bid.

Credit: Patrick Smith

Credit: Patrick Smith

The script was similar 11 years later when unranked Penn State upset No. 2 Ohio State 24-21 after Grant Haley returned a blocked field goal for the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter. The Nittany Lions rode that momentum to a Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl appearance.

6. Offense is optional for scoring points.

The last 20 games between Ohio State and Penn State have included 22 on-offensive touchdowns.

In 10 games from 1998-2007, the Buckeyes scored 11 non-offensive touchdowns while Penn State scored only 10 touchdowns total.

More recently, Penn State has turned the tables with three special teams touchdowns and one defensive score in the past six meetings. That includes Haley’s 2016 touchdown and Saquon Barkley’s 97-yard return of the opening kickoff in Ohio State’s win last season.


Ohio State at Penn State, 7:30 p.m., ABC, 1410

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