The whiteout worked — that and a few other things.
Penn State asked all its fans to wear white, just as it did two years ago when it nearly upset the Buckeyes at Beaver Stadium only to see J.T. Barrett rescue Ohio State in overtime. A crowd of 107,280 showed up Saturday night hoping for a different ending.
Penn State got just that with a 17-point rally in the fourth quarter. The Nittany Lions handed No. 2 Ohio State (6-1, 3-1) its first loss, 24-21, and time will tell if the defeat will cost Ohio State a chance to play in the Big Ten title game of the College Football Playoff.
“This isn’t our season,” Ohio State defensive end Sam Hubbard said. “This isn’t it. We’re ready to get back to work.”
Here are seven things to know about the game:
1. Big play: Ohio State led 21-17 with under five minutes to play and decided to attempt a 45-yard field goal. It was a rushed attempt, and Tyler Durbin’s kick was low.
Marcus Allen blocked the kick. Grant Haley scooped it up and returned it 60 yards for the go-ahead score.
2. No heroics: The Buckeyes got the ball back with 4:03 to play, starting at their own 11-yard line. They converted two key third downs on passes by Barrett, but the drive stalled at the 42. Barrett was sacked on third down and again on fourth down.
Penn State took over with 1:02 to play and knelt on the ball to end the game. Thousands of fans rushed the field as the Nittany Lions celebrated their first victory over Ohio State since 2011.
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said the Buckeyes aren’t a good team right now, and center Pat Elflein agreed. Much of the team’s troubles lie with the play of the offensive line, which gave up six sacks.
“The heart and soul of the team is the O-line,” Elflein said, “and right now we’re letting them down.”
3. Run game: The Buckeyes averaged 4.2 yards per rush, getting 71 yards each from Curtis Samuel and Mike Weber.
Samuel got almost all his yards on one carry, however, rushing 74 yards for a score with 10:10 left in the third quarter. That gave Ohio State a 19-7 lead.
Penn State’s next possession ended with a safety as a high snap on a punt sailed into the end zone. The Buckeyes led 21-7 and looked on their way to a 7-0 start.
4. Pass game: A light drizzle and heavy wind early in the game combined to limit the passing games of both teams.
Barrett finished with 245 yards, completing 28 of 43 passes. Penn State’s Tracy McSorley completed 8 of 23 passes for 154 yards. He threw one big pass, a 20-yard strike to David Godwin with 9 seconds left in the first half to cut Ohio State’s halftime lead to 12-7.
5. Special teams: A blocked punt changed the game. Cameron Brown got his hands on a Cameron Johnston punt. Penn State took possession at the Ohio State 28-yard line. Ohio State held Penn State to a field goal, but the Buckeyes’ lead dwindled to 21-17.
The second block, by Allen of Durbin’s field-goal attempt, added to Ohio State’s special teams woes.
“That’s how important special teams are,” Hubbard said. “We’ve got to get some things fixed obviously.”
6. Penn State star: Saquon Barkley, Penn State’s top player, gained 99 yards on 12 carries. He had a 37-yard run on Penn State’s second touchdown drive.
After Ohio State pushed its lead to 21-7, the Nittany Lions drove 90 yards in just five plays. McSorley finished the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run with 13:32 left in the fourth quarter.
7. Big picture: The Buckeyes fall into a second-place tie with Penn State in the Big Ten East. Each team is 3-1. No. 3 Michigan leads the division at 4-0 and will jump Ohio State in the polls, likely landing behind No. 1 Alabama.
To get to the Big Ten title game, the Buckeyes likely will need to win their final five games against Northwestern, Nebraska, Maryland, Michigan State and Michigan.
Ohio State will also need Penn State to lose at some point. The Nittany Lions don’t have the toughest schedule down the stretch, playing Purdue, Iowa, Indiana, Rutgers and Michigan State.