The No. 6 Ohio State Buckeyes (7-1) erased a 15-point second-half deficit Saturday afternoon at Ohio Stadium to stun the second-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions (7-1) 39-38 and shake up the College Football Playoff picture.
The Buckeyes, who narrowed the deficit to five with 4:20 remaining in regulation, secured the signature win with 1:48 left when quarterback J.T. Barrett hit Marcus Baugh for a 16-yard score to go up by one.
Bleacher Report @BleacherReport
J.T. Barrett comes up clutch for the Buckeyes 👀 https://t.co/RkzjvUCJl52017-10-28 23:22:23
Penn State took over with a chance to set up a game-winning field goal, but Ohio State exacted its revenge for last year's heartbreaking loss at Beaver Stadium by forcing a turnover on downs.
More than anything, Saturday was a story of perseverance for the Buckeyes.
Not only did they erase a two-score deficit in the second half, but they also did the same after falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter.
Barrett was particularly prolific as he continued his midseason push to enter the Heisman Trophy conversation by completing 33 of 39 passes for 328 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed 17 times for 95 yards in a complete and dominant performance, according to ESPN's Field Yates:
Field Yates @FieldYates
And that right there is the signature win of J.T. Barrett's decade-long college career.2017-10-28 23:16:41
As if that wasn't impressive enough, Barrett passed Drew Brees and became the Big Ten's all-time leader in passing touchdowns, as the conference's TV network documented on Twitter:
Big Ten Network @BigTenNetwork
Here's the TD toss that gave J.T. Barrett the all-time lead in Big Ten passing touchdowns. No. 91 is hauled in by Terry McLaurin: https://t.co/aCBAHaqV9t2017-10-28 20:47:38
All told, Ohio State outgained Penn State 529-283 as the Nittany Lions' top-ranked scoring defense appeared overwhelmed at all three levels against the Buckeyes' speedy skill position players.
Ohio State's defense was also worthy of praise even though Heisman Trophy front-runner Saquon Barkley broke loose for a pair of memorable touchdowns.
Barkley's first score came on the game's opening kickoff when he raced 97 yards past Ohio State's coverage unit into the end zone to give the Nittany Lions a 7-0 lead following a Tyler Davis extra point, as seen courtesy of Fox College Football:
FOX College Football @CFBONFOX
Saquon Barkley is a bad, bad man https://t.co/ur3OPuZhfs2017-10-28 19:44:07
The junior also answered the bell in the second quarter when he gashed the Buckeyes defense for 36 yards to give Penn State an early 18-point edge:
Penn State On BTN @PennStateOnBTN
Give the man his 🏆 and a Happy Meal and let's all go home. 😀 Saquon Barkley extends the Penn State lead over the Buckeyes: https://t.co/C86J8FtZrG2017-10-28 20:35:27
But those two plays aside, Barkley was bottled up. All told, he finished with 21 carries for 44 yards. In other words, Barkley managed eight total yards not factoring in his second-quarter touchdown run.
Quarterback Trace McSorley was similarly limited.
Working against a dominant Ohio State defensive line that consistently pushed the pocket and forced McSorley to scramble, Penn State's signal-caller completed 17 of 29 passes for 192 yards and a pair of scores.
And while McSorley and Co. had a chance to go up 15 with under six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, three unsuccessful runs from inside the 10-yard line ultimately opened the door for Ohio State to mount a two-score comeback over the final 5:42 and emerge as viable CFP contenders.
The Nittany Lions will return to the field Nov. 4 in search of a bounce-back win against the Michigan State Spartans.
Meanwhile, Ohio State will attempt to continue its playoff push at Kinnick Stadium against the Iowa Hawkeyes in Week 10.