Last week in a 21-point win over Maryland, Ohio State’s offense looked as potent as it has since the opener because, in large part, J.T. Barrett was utilized as an option at quarterback in the red zone. After the first half today, perhaps it’s time for Urban Meyer to expand the definition of red zone from “inside the 20-yard line” to “the entire field.”
For the first quarter of OSU’s “Black Out” game against Penn State, the light failed to come on for Cardale Jones and the offense as the dark-clad Buckeyes mustered less than 60 yards of offense and no points in the opening 15 minutes. With the Buckeyes at the Nittany Lion 31-yard line at the start of the second quarter, Meyer — and his ever-expanding red zone — replaced Jones with Barrett on a second-and-13 and, four plays later, the “backup” scored on a five-yard touchdown run to put OSU up 7-3.
Coincidentally or not, that spark provided by Barrett continued throughout the remainder of the quarter as the Buckeyes scored on their next two drives as well to take a 21-3 lead into halftime. The second of those scores was another Barrett touchdown, giving the redshirt sophomore two scoring runs on three touches in the half.
Ezekiel Elliott accounted for the remaining touchdown, an 11-yard thing of beauty that was part of his game-high 80 yards in the half. Elliott is looking to collect his 12th consecutive 100-yard game.
The Buckeyes accounted for just 59 passing yards in the half, a fact Meyer lamented heading into the locker room. Jones accounted for all of that yardage on 7-of-12 passing.
For the Nittany Lions, Saquon Barkley was one of the lone first-half bright spots as the true freshman ran for 86 yards on 13 carries. Christian Hackenberg was harassed into 4-of-9 passing for just 56 yards.