Just in time for Halloween, Penn State and Ohio State delivered a thriller.
Saturday’s PSU-OSU matchup was the most anticipated game of Week 9, and I watched it from start to finish. I don’t know if you’re going to see a better college football game this season. It was that good.
OSU pulled off a stunning comeback to top PSU, 39-38, and of course, there were a lot of future NFL players on the field. Buckeyes QB J.T. Barrett wasn’t one of the top 10 prospects in the game, but he was the hero on this day.
Here are five takeaways from the game.
1. I think there are some legitimate concerns about what J.T. Barrett will be at the next level because of his physical limitations, but this game was a great example of his toughness, poise and ability to perform in the clutch.
He led the Buckeyes back from a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit, going 13 of 13 for 170 yards and two touchdowns in the final quarter. He finished the day 33 of 39 for 328 yards and 4 TDs. He also ran for 95 yards on 17 carries.
With the late deficit OSU was facing, they needed to score and in an expedited fashion. Barrett responded with maximum efficiency. He took some big hits, but continued to hang in the pocket and didn’t flinch. He delivered strike after strike.
I haven’t talked to any evaluators that feel like he’s a starting NFL quarterback, but he’s making a strong case to be given an opportunity at the next level. He doesn’t have the big NFL-caliber arm that scouts covet. However, he’s playing his best ball in the most important moments.
He’s a good decision maker, and he iced the game with his legs, running for a first down on the final possession.
2. Saquon Barkley showed flashes of brilliance. He made two big plays. He returned the opening kickoff for a TD, showing ridiculous top-end speed for a 230-pound man. He also scored on a 36-yard run in which he pressed the line of scrimmage, bounced outside and ran away from everybody. Outside of those two plays, Ohio State did a great job of keeping him contained.
PSU lost the battle up front, but nothing from that game changed how I feel about the PSU RB. I still think there’s very little debate when it comes to who deserves the title of best player in college football right now. It’s Barkley.
3. The Ohio State defensive line took over the game. There was a lot of attention paid to this group before the season started. Everybody kind of forgot about them after the Oklahoma game. In reality, that game was really more about breakdowns in the secondary than anything going awry up front. This group has played really well and I think they took their game to a new level against PSU, especially in the second half.
They created a lot of negative plays and they took turns doing it. Tyquan Lewis made a couple plays. Sam Hubbard made a huge tackle for loss on the last drive. Robert Landers was all over the place. Nick Bosa had a couple big plays, as well.
I think they’re the best defensive line in CFB. Aside from a few plays, they were outstanding Saturday.
4. Every time I watch Penn State play, TE Mike Gesicki wins so many contested catches. He has a real knack for being able to box guys out and high-point the ball when he has bodies draped all over him. I think it showed how much OSU respects him when they double-teamed him late in the game, as if to say “You can beat us with someone else but we’re not going to let this guy do it.”
He reminds me of Dennis Pitta. When Pitta’s been healthy, he’s been a really good player. He led all TEs in catches last year, and Gesicki has that kind of potential.
5. I’ll be shocked if Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano doesn’t get a big-time head-coaching job in college football soon.
It looks like Urban Meyer is getting Schiano’s take on everything during games, which is great for Schiano. He got a lot of camera time on Saturday.
It didn’t work out for him with the Bucs, but he did a great job with Rutgers. He has proven he can turn a college program around and win. Plus, spending time on Meyer’s staff isn’t going to hurt him.
I’ve had more than a few scouts mention him as one to keep an eye on after visiting with him.
Follow Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter @MoveTheSticks.
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