Who: No.13 Ohio State (5-1, 2-0) vs. Penn State (4-2, 1-2)
When: Saturday, Oct. 25 at 8:00 p.m. ET
Where: Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA
Penn State is coming off a bye week, which followed two consecutive conference losses to Northwestern and Michigan, and while the Nittany Lions are looking for their first thing to celebrate in about a month, Ohio State plans to make an impression on the playoff committee in a primetime, nationally-televised game the weekend before the first rankings are unveiled. Much like the Buckeyes did last year with a 63-13 trouncing of the Nittany Lions.
Will JT Barrett continue to thrust his name into Heisman discussions, or will Penn State upset the Buckeyes for their first victory at home over their non-rivals since 2005? Let’s take a look at how OSU can catalyze the former and avoid the latter.
Christian Hackenberg arrived at Penn State as a blue-chip, five-star recruit who was supposed to lead the Nittany Lions back to relevance, and although some experts believe he is still an NFL talent, he is not showing it this year. The sophomore quarterback has completed 59 percent of his passes for 1,637 yards and five touchdowns, but his seven interceptions creates a TD-to-INT ratio that will not impress many scouts.
It’s not entirely his fault, as Penn State’s offensive line has been porous to say the least. Not only has Hackenberg been sacked 20 times this season, but the Lions have also given up 46 tackles-for-loss. In the last four games alone, Ohio State’s defensive line has amassed 12 sacks and 23 tackles-for-loss, as well as eight interceptions. Joey Bosa is primed for a big game, and the rest of the defensive line will be chomping at the bit for this matchup.
Unstoppable Force vs. Unmovable Object… kind of?
Penn State is only giving up 283 yards and 15.2 points a game, which ranks sixth nationally. Although those numbers may have been inflated by lesser competition, the same can be said about Ohio State’s potent scoring offense, which ranks fourth in the nation at 46.5 points a game.
It will be interesting to see which side lives up to their impressive national ranking and who is exposed. My guess is Ohio State’s potent offense, which has gained at least 500 yards and put up 50 points in each of the last four games, will continue to roll.
During the Buckeyes’ current four-game win streak, they have started fast and not looked back. A quick start against the Nittany Lions will put a struggling offense behind the eight ball. Penn State has scored a total of 19 points in its last two games, which is a pretty good quarter for the Buckeyes. A quick start will also help to quiet a sure-to-be raucous crowd of well over 100,000 people all wearing white.
The Buckeyes will score early and often in this one, I would not be surprised to see their defensive touchdown streak extended to three games thanks to unrelenting pressure of Hackenberg.
Buckeyes Win 45-20
Cover Photo: Jonathan Quilter, McClatchy-Tribune
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