Penn State Football

Penn State football: Ohio State pulls away in second quarter, beats Nittany Lions 38-10

Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg hands off to  running back Saquon Barkley during the first half of the Saturday, October 17, 2015 game at Ohio Stadium.
Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg hands off to running back Saquon Barkley during the first half of the Saturday, October 17, 2015 game at Ohio Stadium. CDT photo

There was Barkley, but there was no bite.

A "Dark Night in the Shoe," as Ohio State's marketing team labeled it, got dark indeed for Penn State as the team fell to the No. 1 Buckeyes 38-10 under a pitch-black sky and black-clad crowd of more than 108,000 on Saturday night.

Freshman running back Saquon Barkley made his return to the field after sustaining an ankle injury against San Diego State that sat him for the last couple of weeks, and rushed for 194 yards (averaging 7.5 per carry), stiff-arming and juke-stepping defenders on his way.

But the one time Barkley saw the end zone, on a beautiful run after quarterback Christian Hackenberg faked a handoff to Brandon Polk and gave it to Barkley, who curled out wide right for the score, it was called back as flags flew when offensive guard Brian Gaia was caught holding on play.

The Nittany Lions started well enough in the hostile, roaring environment against the nation's top-ranked squad. Joey Julius booted in a 33-yard field goal to put the first points by either team on the board after Penn State's defense forced three straight three-and-outs from Buckeyes quarterback Cardale Jones and his offense.

And for 13:29, Penn State led.

The defense contained -- the Nittany Lions have now held opponents to just 14 first-quarter points combined through seven games -- but could not sustain once Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer began to rotate his quarterbacks.

Barrett punched in the first touchdown for the Buckeyes, with a five-yard run.

Barrett, Braxton Miller (a former quarterback-turned-receiver prior to the start of the year) and Jones each took a snap on the second touchdown drive, to march the ball 45 yards in four plays, before Ezekiel Elliott took a handoff for 10 yards and the score.

Then, Barrett scored again on a 13-yard keeper, Ohio State's third unanswered touchdown of the quarter.

The Nittany Lions bulldozed their way 78 yards down the field in just three plays to open the third quarter with a touchdown.

Hackenberg threw deep on his first snap to receiver Chris Godwin, who took corner Eli Apple for a 20-yard ride on his back after snagging it over Apple's outstretched arms for the 56-yard play, Hackenberg's longest passing play of the season. A 14-yard carry by Barkley set up an 8-yard touchdown catch-and-stretch by receiver DaeSean Hamilton.

The Nittany Lions' defense held Ohio State scoreless in the third as defensive end Carl Nassib notched a sack and a half (he leads the nation with 11.5 on the season) to help the Buckeyes accumulate just 62 yards of offense throughout the period.

Ohio State kicker Jack Willoughby knocked in a 39-yard field goal with 12:54 left to play to push the Buckeyes' lead to 24-10.

Barkley cut-and-ran for 56 yards up the field to answer, but was stuffed on the resulting series' third-and-two. Penn State decided to go for it -- and Hackenberg was sacked as Barkley curled outside, waving for the ball with nothing but air covering him.

Barrett threw a 5-yard airborne bloop-pass over the middle to Miller for Ohio State's next-to-last touchdown, and Barrett added a 6-yard scoring pass to Michael Thomas with about four minutes remaining.

More updates to follow.