Big Ten football fans were sort of treated to another classic Penn State-Ohio State game in Columbus on Saturday.

Each of the last three matchups in this series had been decided by three points or less. Saturday’s game was close — not that close — but the Buckeyes survived a Nittany Lions second-half surge to keep their undefeated season alive.

Ryan Day’s squad claimed a 28-17 win over James Franklin’s bunch to clinch the Big Ten East division, keep its College Football Playoff hopes alive and punch its ticket to Indianapolis to play the winner of the West division for the conference crown.

Even having KJ Hamler in the lineup couldn’t help Penn State. Quarterback Sean Clifford needed to have a big game, especially with his legs. The Nittany Lions needed to be in manageable third-down situations to avoid Chase Young and that Buckeyes pass rush. But the PSU offense just could not create many chunk plays, and it set a bad tone when its first drive stalled at the Ohio State 42-yard line and Franklin elected to punt.

Penn State came into the game with a very good run defense, but Ohio State had no trouble marching down the field on its first possession.

Starting from its own 9, the Buckeyes went 91 yards over 13 plays, and J.K. Dobbins found the end zone from four yards out for his sixth straight game with a score. He passed the great Eddie George on the drive to move into third place on the Buckeyes’ all-time leading rushing list.

The Nittany Lions came into the contest giving up just 75.9 rushing yards per game, but they allowed 91 on the first drive alone. Yes, all of the yards on Ohio State’s opening drive came on the ground, including third-down runs of 14 and 17 yards by Justin Fields, who has made third-and-long conversions look so easy all season, whether with his arm or his legs.

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Penn State found that out the hard way. It also found out that a well-rested Chase Young is a very very dangerous Chase Young.

The star defensive end returned after a two-game hiatus and recorded a half-sack on the Buckeyes’ second defensive series of the game, which tied Vernon Gholston’s school season record of 14, set in 2007. He would add 1.5 sacks later to claim the mark as his own. It was another stellar effort from Young, who had four sacks the last time he played inside Ohio Stadium.

It looked bleak for Penn State early as Ohio State’s offense marched down a short field and appeared to take a two-touchdown lead. But Lamont Wade forced a Fields fumble on his way to the end zone, and it was recovered by Cam Brown for a touchback. Fields injured his left thumb on the play but would stay in the game.

Ohio State put together arguably the most important and weirdest drive of the game. The Buckeyes went 48 yards over 11 plays and 5:29 to take a 14-0 lead on a Dobbins 1-yard scoring run on fourth-and-goal. The drive was kept alive after Fields ran for 22 on a fourth-and-5 at the PSU 26. The Nittany Lions defense made the Buckeyes offense work for it, as seven of the 11 plays went for two yards or less, but it was a touchdown nonetheless and it put PSU in a big hole.

Day had the luxury of going for it on fourth down because he knows his defense is so dominant, and the Nittany Lions offense was proving that it was unable to make big plays. Hamler only had one catch in the first half as the Buckeyes made life difficult for Clifford and company.

The first half ended with the Buckeyes holding a 14-0 lead, but it could have been worse. Fields connected with a wide-open Chris Olave in the end zone on a 34-yard strike, but it was knocked away at the last minute by a PSU defender. The Fields-Dobbins duo combined for 31 rushes and 148 yards in the first half to set the tone for the Buckeyes offense.

The second half, which began in the rain, started much like the first 30 minutes ended. The Buckeyes marched 75 yards down the field on their opening 10-play drive and took a 21-0 lead when Fields connected with K.J. Hill on a 24-yard scoring pass. It looked like it was going to be a runaway victory for the Buckeyes.

But Clifford was knocked out of the game after going down hard on his right side following a completed pass, so Will Levis entered the game under center for the Nittany Lions. Coincidentally, he ended up providing the offense with a spark, finishing a 9-play, 75-yard drive that ended when Journey Brown reached the end zone from 18 yards out. On that drive, Levis had a physical 10-yard run on a third-and-4 to keep it alive. The ability of Levis to run on zone read plays was a welcome wrinkle for this offense, and this is where the game’s momentum changed.

That energy carried over to the defense as Micah Parsons forced a Dobbins fumble that was recovered by Wade on the very first play of the ensuing possession. After Levis connected with Pat Freiermuth through a tight window, the backup signal-caller took it in himself from the 1 to make it a 21-14 game.

Wade and the Nittany Lions ramped up their defense once again when the safety forced another Fields fumble that was recovered by Parsons. The Ohio State defense, put in an unenviable position, ultimately held Penn State to a Jake Pinegar 42-yard field goal to make it 21-17.

But Fields and the Buckeyes would ultimately respond, putting together a short 44-yard drive that was finished off when Fields hit Chris Olave for a 28-yard score to give the Buckeyes a 28-17 lead. Olave showed off his great hands on the play, elevating between two defenders for his 10th touchdown of the year.

Pressing and in need of points, Levis made a critical mistake when he tried to force a pass over the middle to Freiermuth that was picked off by Justin Hilliard at the Ohio State 20. The Nittany Lions would not be able to threaten again.

There was a scare, however, when the Buckeyes were trying to run out the clock. Fields appeared to be injured on a fourth-down play when Wade sacked him, landed on his left leg and his foot/ankle seemed to get jammed in the turf. Day told FOX sideline reporter Jenny Taft after the game, however, that he believes the QB will be fine after the injury scare.

So the Buckeyes march on and gear up for their road showdown with Michigan and possibly a rematch with Wisconsin or a showdown with 1-loss Minnesota in Indy. Can Jim Harbaugh finally beat the rival Buckeyes?

As well as Michigan is playing, this Ohio State team looks like it has a date with CFP destiny.