Tuimoloau shines as No. 2 Ohio State beats No. 13 Penn State 44-31

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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — J.T. Tuimoloau had a strip sack to set up No. 2 Ohio State for a separation-score in the fourth quarter and then a pick-6 to cap a spectacular performance by the defensive end as the Buckeyes erased a fourth-quarter deficit to beat No. 13 Penn State 44-31.

C.J. Stroud found his groove for Ohio State in the fourth quarter and finished with 354 yards passing as the Buckeyes (8-0, 5-0 Big Ten) ran their winning streak in the rivalry to six in a row – none by more than 13 points.

As has often been the case when these teams get together lately, the Buckeyes were a double-digit favorite and the Nittany Lions (6-2, 3-2) played them tough.

In this case, though, Penn State didn’t just hang around. The Nittany Lions went up 21-16 with 9:26 remaining in the fourth quarter on a tough 1-yard touchdown run by Kaytron Allen on fourth down.

Ohio State outscored Penn State 28-3 the rest of the way, with Tuimoloau providing the key play after the Buckeyes went up 23-21.

Tuimoloau also recovered the fumble after swiping the ball from Sean Clifford with 8:26 left in the fourth quarter. One play later, Stroud connected with Cade Stover, who rumbled through the Penn State defense for a 24-yard touchdown to make it 30-21.

Tuimoloau also had his first career interception in the first quarter, a tipped pass at the line of scrimmage that resulted in Ohio State’s first interception of the game and another sack.

For his final act, Tuimoloau beat his block, reached up and grabbed Clifford’s short pass attempt at the 14-yard line and cruised into the end zone to make it 44-24.

Clifford threw for 371 yards and three touchdowns, but committed four turnovers.

TreVeyon Henderson scored twice in Ohio State’s fourth-quarter outburst, including a 41-yard run 35 seconds after Penn State took the lead. He added a 7-yard touchdown run with 2:52 left to make it 37-24.

Clifford, the sixth-year quarterback, whose up and down play has had some Nittany Lions fans clamoring to see more of five-star freshman Drew Allar, found success after the early turnovers.

Parker Washington broke free of two Ohio State tacklers and sprinted 58 yards for a score to cut the Ohio State lead to 10-7 in the second quarter and awaken a lunchtime crowd of more than 108,000 at Beaver Stadium.

Clifford hooked up with KeAndre Smith-Lambert down the middle for a 23-yard touchdown to give Penn State a 14-10 lead that prompted a singalong to “Sweet Caroline” from the “striped-out” fans.

A visit from Ohio State is usually a White Out game for Penn State, played at night. This time it was a big nooner with Fox in town and the Nittany Lions coming off a White Out romp last week against Minnesota.

Two weeks removed from getting pummeled on the road by Michigan, Penn State put up a four-quarter fight against the Buckeyes.

THE TAKEAWAY

Ohio State: A few days before the first College Football Playoff rankings are released, the Buckeyes faced their toughest test of the season so far – by far – and passed. Only a major upset over the next three weeks will keep the Buckeyes from rolling into the Michigan finale unbeaten.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions limped out of the Big House after allowing more than 400 yards rushing, but their athletic defense seemed to be a better match-up for the Buckeyes. At least for a while. Penn State heads into the final month of the season still hoping for a 10-win season, but with a Big Ten title out of reach.

UP NEXT

Ohio State: The Buckeyes are on the road again at Northwestern.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions start the closing stretch at Indiana.

Texas State hires Incarnate Word coach Kinne to lead Bobcats

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Texas State hired Incarnate Word coach G.J. Kinne on Friday to lead a Sun Belt program that has had only one winning season since moving up to the Bowl Subdivision in 2012.

The 34-year-old former Tulsa quarterback has made a fast rise in coaching since ending his professional career in 2017.

After three years as an offensive analyst at SMU, Arkansas and the Philadelphia Eagles, Kinne became offensive coordinator at Hawaii in 2020. He held the same role for UCF in 2021 before landing the head coaching job at FCS Incarnate Word this season.

Incarnate Word is 10-1 and averaging 53 points and 8.3 yards per play, both FCS highs, heading into its playoff game Saturday against Furman. Kinne will remain with Incarnate Word through their playoff run.

“It’s with great honor that I’m accepting the call to be next head football coach of the Texas State Bobcats,” Kinne said. “We are going to play fast, have relentless energy, and when the going gets tough, have the mental confidence to win tight games in the second half and represent the state of Texas. Eat ‘Em Up!”

Texas State fired Jake Spavital last week after the Bobcats won just 13 games in his four seasons.

Kinne signed a five-year contract, the school said. Terms were not immediately released.

“My goal was to hire someone with demonstrated leadership experience, success as a head coach, established relationships with Texas football coaches, and success with recruiting and developing players,” said Texas State President Kelly Damphousse. “I sought a leader with a plan to capitalize on our location in the heart of the best high school football in the country.”

Florida Atlantic hires Tom Herman as football coach

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BOCA RATON, Fla. – Former Texas and Houston head coach Tom Herman will take over at Florida Atlantic as it heads into its first season in the American Athletic Conference.

The hire comes just days after FAU fired Willie Taggart, who went 15-18 in his three seasons with the Owls. Details of the contract with Herman were not immediately available.

“We are incredibly excited to welcome Tom Herman to Paradise,” FAU Director of Athletics Brian White said Thursday. “Throughout the process and the more we talked with Coach Herman, the more it became apparent to me that he was the right person to lead our football program. Beyond his knowledge of the game, which is obvious by his success over the years, he also truly cares about the young people in his program.”

FAU’s final season in Conference USA ended with a 5-7 record and an overtime loss to Western Kentucky. The Owls will be in the American next season.

Herman returns to college football after spending the 2021 season with the Chicago Bears as an offensive analyst.

Herman was 22-4 at Houston, a mark that helped him land the head coaching job at Texas where he went 32-18 with four straight bowl trips in 2017-2020. He also was an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Ohio State during the Buckeyes’ 2014 national championship season, as well as stops at Iowa State, Rice and Texas State.

“All the pieces are in place at FAU for us to be successful,” Herman said. “There are already great young men on this team, great facilities, a great location, a great recruiting base and great leadership, all of which are important to building a successful program.”