Buckeyes barely escape Happy Valley with double-OT win

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With each passing game, the Nov. 8 showdown between Michigan State and Ohio State was looming larger and larger.

MSU did its part in Week 9, taking “big brother” Michigan to the woodshed yesterday afternoon. A few hours later in Happy Valley?  Meh, not so much on OSU’s part.

What was a comfortable 17-0 halftime lead turned into a nail-biting hair-puller for the Buckeyes, with Penn State putting a scare into the visitors a week ahead of Halloween before OSU was able to escape with a 31-24 win in double overtime.  Penn State capped a 17-0 second half run with a 31-yard field goal by Sam Fickens with :09 left to send it into the first overtime.  After both teams exchanged touchdowns in the first extra session, OSU quarterback J.T. Barrett scored his second rushing touchdown of the game to give the Buckeyes a 31-24 lead.

On fourth down on the ensuing possession, Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg was “sacked” by OSU’s Joey Bosa — Bosa actually bullrushed his blocker into Hackenberg, knocking him down — to seal the win and send the No. 13 Buckeyes back to Columbus with a 6-1 record.

Were it not for the incompetence of the officiating crew, though, Penn State very well could’ve walked out of Beaver Stadium with its fifth win of the year.  A botched replay in the first quarter allowed the Buckeyes to maintain possession of an interception, turning the pick into seven points.  A delay of game wasn’t called on a 49-yard field goal attempt that was good; a penalty there likely would’ve pushed the Buckeyes out of field-goal range.

To say that some of the sheen has come off the matchup with the Spartans two weeks from Saturday would be an understatement.  The Buckeyes didn’t look like they could hang with a directional Michigan school most of the night let alone the best team in the state.  If OSU can’t improve on its woeful performance — even head coach Urban Meyer acknowledged afterward that his charges didn’t play well — it’ll be a long night in East Lansing.

The good news for Meyer and company is that they have two weeks to work on their issues.  Part of that work will be a home game against Illinois in which they’ll be 20-plus-point favorites, with OSU knowing that, despite the uneven Week 9 performance, wins the next two weeks would place them squarely in the East Division driver’s seat.

Again, however, the Buckeyes need to step their game up, lest Sparty takes a second consecutive rival to its version of the woodshed.  At least based on last night, that doesn’t look promising.

WVU RB Donaldson in concussion protocol, out for Baylor game

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) West Virginia running back CJ Donaldson is in concussion protocol and will miss next week’s home game with Baylor after he was injured in a loss to Texas, coach Neal Brown said Tuesday.

Donaldson remained on the ground after he was tackled on a short gain in the third quarter of Saturday’s 38-20 loss to the Longhorns. His helmet and shoulder pads were removed and he was carted off the field on a stretcher. After the game he was cleared to travel home with the team.

“He’s recovering,” Brown said. “There is a strict return-to-play (policy) that we have to follow here and I’m zero involved in it. All I do is ask the question. They don’t even start the return-to-play until they’re symptom free.”

Donaldson, a 240-pound freshman, leads the Mountaineers with 389 rushing yards and six touchdowns, with an average of 6.9 yards per carry.

West Virginia (2-3, 0-2 Big 12 Conference) is idle this week and hosts Baylor (3-2, 1-1) next Thursday, Oct. 13.

Taulia Tagovailoa says he visited brother, Tua, over weekend

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
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COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa was able to visit his brother, Tua, last weekend after the Terrapins’ game against Michigan State, he said Tuesday in his first comments to reporters since Tua left the Miami Dolphins’ game against Cincinnati last Thursday with a frightening head injury.

Taulia played in Maryland’s win over Michigan State on Saturday but was not made available to the media afterward. He said Tuesday he was able to go to Florida and spend some time with his brother, who suffered a concussion four days after taking a hit in another game but was cleared to return.

“He’s doing good, everything’s fine,” he said. “My biggest thing was just seeing him and spending as much time as I can with him. I came back Sunday night.”

Tagovailoa said he appreciates the support for his brother.

“My brother’s my heart. He’s someone I look up to, someone I talk to every day,” he said. “It was just a hard scene for me to see that.”

Tagovailoa said he was in constant contact with his mother about his brother’s situation, and he was finally able to talk to Tua on Friday night.

“I really just wanted to go there and just spend time with my family, hug them and stuff like that,” Taulia Tagovailoa said. “But he told me he’s a big fan of us, and he’d rather watch me play on Saturday. … After that phone call, I was happy and getting back to my normal routine.”

Tagovailoa indicated that his brother’s injury didn’t make him too nervous about his own health when he took the field again.

“I guess when that happens to someone like my brother, or when anything happens to one of my family members, I don’t really think of how it will be able to affect me,” he said. “I just think of: `Is he OK? How’s he doing?”‘

Although it was a short visit to Florida, he said he and Tua made the most of their chance to be together.

“I just wanted to make sure he’s healthy and stuff, which he is,” Taulia Tagovailoa said.