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Penn State Grades vs. Ohio State

Who played well against the Buckeyes, and who still has some work to do?

COLUMBUS, Ohio--Penn State improved to 9-2 on the season and 6-1 in the Big Ten Leaders Division on Saturday with a 20-14 win against Ohio State at Ohio Stadium. Here's a look at who played well and who has some work to do as the Nittany Lions prepare to travel to Wisconsin this weekend to battle for a berth in the Big Ten Championship game.

Quarterback: If you count Bill Belton and Curtis Drake as quarterbacks coming out of the wildcat formation, this position was as dynamic as it has been all season. The direct snaps Penn State used throughout the day opened up huge holes for the running backs, and really set Penn State's offense to have success all day long. Matthew McGloin wasn't great, but save for one interception, he avoided mistakes and managed the game plenty well enough to win. Grade: B+

Running Backs: Stephfon Green and Silas Redd both had very solid days. Green led Penn State in rushing with 93 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries and Redd racked up 63 yards on eight carries, including a majestic 42-yard run in the first half that set up Penn State's second touchdown. The one knock on their performance would be Redd's inability to score on 4th-and-1 at Ohio State's 1-yardline in the third quarter. A score would have sealed the game for Penn State. The failure on the goal line left the door open for the Buckeyes. Grade: B

Wide Receiver: With priority given to establishing the ground game, the wideouts didn't get a whole lot of chances in this one. Derek Moye had a nice 20-yard reception on Penn State's second touchdown drive and Andrew Szczerba and Justin Brown contributed catches that went for some key first downs, but other than that, it was a quiet day for the group. The receivers made the plays they had to make that, though, and for that they get solid marks. Grade: B-

Offensive Line: The failed conversion on 4th-and-1 at the Ohio State 1-yard line in the fourth quarter put a damper on what was otherwise a very solid day for the line. Thanks to the wildcat, Ohio State was confused all afternoon, and Penn State's hogs took advantage by imposing their will from the outset. The hole the line opened for Green's touchdown run on the first drive set the tone for what was as good a performance as has been seen from this group all season. Grade: B

Defensive Line: Eric Latimore applied good pressure all afternoon and Jack Crawford registered two sacks. Interior linemen Jordan Hill and Devon Still were well blocked most of the day, however, and were not the disruptive forces they've shown themselves to be most of the season. As a result, Braxton Miller and Dan Herron were able to rack up a bunch of yards on the ground to keep the Buckeyes in the game, so it's hard to rate this among the defensive front's better performances. Grade: C+

Linebackers: Glenn Carson and Nathan Stupar led the defense with 11 and eight tackles respectively, but it's hard to look at Miller's afternoon and not think this group could have done more. To their credit, the backers made some big plays when they needed to, but the Buckeyes were able to hang around a little longer than they probably should have as a result of the backers' inability to get home on some of his longer runs, most notably Miller's 24-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Grade: B

Secondary: The defensive backs were so good in this game that co-defensive coordinators Larry Johnson and Ron Vanderlinden deployed a 4-4-3 package at one point, leaving just three DBs in the game. A move like that showed just how confident the coaches were in their secondary against Ohio State's anemic passing attack and speaks to the impact this group made on the game. Miller finished the game just 7-17 for 83 yards. Grade: A

Special Teams: Anthony Fera bounced back from a key miss against Nebraska last week with field goals of 43 and 46 yards in this one, both of which were huge for Penn State in keeping the Buckeyes safely in the rearview all afternoon. Grade: A

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.