Penn State (8-2 Overall, 5-1 Conference) at Ohio State (6-4 Overall, 3-3 Conference)
Kickoff: 3:30, Ohio Stadium, Columbus, OH
Line: Ohio State -6.5 O/U 38.5 (VegasInsider.com)
TV: ESPN. Brad Nessler (play by play), Todd Blackledge (analyst), Holly Rowe (sideline).
Weather: Mostly Sunny, 55 degrees, gusty
Goodwill Missions Abroad. Ben on the 11W Dubcast. Ty Hildenbrandt from the Solid Verbal also stopped over at 11W to answer questions this week. Favorite quote regarding Penn State's season: "it’s just been so unspectacular that it kind of feels as if each win has been stolen off the back of a truck." Indeed.
More Happy Goodness. The Proud To Be A Penn Stater fundraiser for RAINN is up to $423,880 as of this writing. Don't let that big number prevent you from chipping in at this juncture. $20 might get some late-night hotline workers a few pounds of coffee. Don't they deserve their coffee? Here's where your money goes.
Finally, The Long Awaited Head Coaching Clash Between Luke Fickell And Tom Bradley. Oddly enough, Bradley might have the better chance at being around in 2012, although both are likely gone by December. In fact, Eleven Warriors was reporting last night that Urban Meyer was extremely close to signing a deal to coach the Buckeyes next year, which, gulp. Bradley admitted a little early chaos on the sideline against Nebraska. Let this serve as a practice game in a hostile environment, in preparation for Camp Randall next week. Immense joy of defeating Ohio State aside, the division comes down to the Wisconsin game.
Welcome Back, WORST PERSON EVER. DeVier Posey is back from suspension for taking a few dollars he shouldn't have. We wonder how you sleep at night, sir. For shame. With Penn State likely to crowd the line of scrimmage, Posey will have some chances downfield (especially if Braxton Miller can keep a few plays alive with his legs).
Awful Quarterbacking Is Awful. In six conference games, Braxton Miller is 31-for-63 (49.2%) with five touchdowns and two interceptions. Matt McGloin is 72-for-142 (50.7%) with four touchdowns and three interceptions. These are the best quarterbacks Penn State and Ohio State are capable of fielding at this time.
Stifling Defense Is Stifling. Both teams give up about 130 yards per game on the ground. Ohio State has been oddly susceptible through the air, however. They give up 212 yards per game (9th in conference-only games). Their pass efficiency defense also ranks ninth in the Big Ten.
Punting. Still Winning. With two bad offenses and two great defenses, take a closer look at the special teams for both sides. Anthony Fera has been solid on field goals, with his only misses coming from 43, 47, and 52 yards. He's 1-3 from 40-49 yards. Ohio State's Drew Basil has missed only one field goal during conference play, from 50 yards last week against Purdue. He's 4-6 from 40-49 yards. In B1G games, Ohio State is #1 in net punting (39.9 avg.) while Penn State is 8th at 34.8 yards. Both teams have been pretty good on kickoffs, and average on punt returns. Ohio State's advantage in this area is slight. Can't help thinking that this game turns on a blocked punt or field goal.
In Other Words. Yeah, this game would've been Jim Tressel and Joe Paterno's ultimate fantasies.
Rarities. Which team will be able to finish the job in the unlikely event they find themselves in the opponent's red zone? Ohio State, for all their offensive ineptitude, has been quite proficient inside the 20 during Big Ten play (ten touchdowns in 15 chances). Penn State, not so much (nine touchdowns, 24 chances).
Prediction In GIF Form?
This will be so very difficult on the eyes, but strangely enthralling. Two highly dysfunctional offenses, and two great-to-excellent defenses. As Ramzy noted on this week's BSD Podcast, Penn State could have some luck with short and intermediate passes, provided that they've learned their lessons from the tragic second half in Columbus last year. Silas Redd is injured but expected to play, though you can expect to see plenty of other PSU running backs (anyone seen Curtis Dukes?).
For Ohio State, where are their yards coming from? If Penn State can contain Boom Herron and not let Miller get established in the running game, it's going to be a punt-a-thon. I mean, it's going to be that anyway, for both teams. It's a game that will come down to a very, very few plays. Which quarterback will be punished or rewarded for their FIGD moments? Can Jordan Hall bust a return on special teams? Who will miss the 35-ish yard field goals? Is either quarterback able to take advantage of a busted coverage when it inevitably happens?
Screw it. Got a good feeling about this one, mostly because Penn State has had a chance to settle in after a tumultuous two weeks and a game played strictly on emotion. I honestly believe Penn State is the better team here, and should win provided they avoid the usual trappings of Columbus (multiple pick-sixes, special teams abominations). I firmly believe, despite Penn State's recurrent failings at the 'Shoe, that being on the road is the best scenario for PSU.
Penn State 16, Ohio State 13 (OT). Jump ball to Moye FTW after Ohio State kicks a field goal in overtime (how's that for specificity?).