After last year's 63-14 shellacking of the Nittany Lions in Columbus, Ohio State comes to Happy Valley for this year's matchup of teams with winning records as the 5-1 Buckeyes will do battle with 4-2 Penn State. Penn State has their dominant defense to thank for a successful first half of the season record-wise while Ohio State's freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett has molded into the competent quarterback that the Buckeyes have needed and more. What does the staff see for this year's game? Predictions!
bscaff: On the ground, Penn State must stay committed to the run with inside and outside zone plays, no matter the score, no matter the down and distance, and no matter its (in)effectiveness early. Please dump the power runs with pulling guards and tackles. We're not any good at them.
Through the air, Penn State will see a ton of 2-deep man coverage. Comeback routes, at 8-, 12-, and 18-yards, help receivers beat man coverage on the outside. And even though we've seen almost zero comebacks to this point of the season, it remains Hackenberg's best throw. Dude can throw 18-yard comebacks from the far hash on time, on target, on a freaking rope. Please use that weapon this week. Please also attack OSU's athletic but undisciplined linebackers from bunch sets with drags and slants, with intermediate play action, and with the quick draw run from inside zone you showed last week, John Donovan.
Our defense doesn't have to do much differently than it's done to this point in the season. Play your assignment, run to the ball, tackle. But take the ball away. Go get the football for us (and if you could score once or twice, that'd be great, thanks.) Oh - and for the love of all things Holy, please don't chase the tailback on the zone read, Brad Bars / Carl Nassib / Evan Schwan / Garrett Sickles.
Special teams? Here's your chance, fellas. You're in prime time, under the lights, playing in whiteout conditions. One big hit (or one great return) to start the game can provide enough juice to carry your teammates through the first quarter. Give us one big play Saturday (and don't surrender any, please, thanks).
Pull off this upset Saturday night, and half a million people will be talking about it for the next 30 years.
Penn State 24-23
Nick Polak: It's really a shame that Penn State's 2014 defense has to play on the same team as Penn State's offense. If you gave this defense to a team like Ohio State, they would probably be undefeated for the next two years.
It's strange, because although I know a victory is as close to impossible as they come, writing this week's MMQB scenario in which Penn State wins a close game, gave me a strange jolt of possibility. When you think about it, the potential actually is there. Freshman JT Barrett's first REAL road game with an 8PM start in one of history's craziest sports environments of all time. An OSU defense that has hardly set the world on fire. Christian Hackenberg's resume of prime time home game performances. Penn State's vicious and improving defen-
I need to stop. I know it's not happening. Barrett will probably throw for another 250 and rush for 80 while compiling three touchdowns in total. Bosa, Bennett, and Washington will probably combine for six or seven sacks. There will probably be another hilariously bad pick six from Penn State's offense. Penn State's defense will probably make it seem like all hope is not lost, until the offense hangs them out to dry with three straight three and outs. The offensive line will probably continue to fail to both pass protect and run block. Probably.
But you know what? We all said that Penn State would probably beat Northwestern and Michigan.
Ohio State 38-13
Matt: Usually at some point during the week, no matter how dire the matchup appears, I find a way to start convincing myself that Penn State has a chance in a game. I have had no such luck this week. The list of things that would have to go right for the Lions to just keep this sorta close is lengthy.
I will not be shocked to see PSU keep it close with the defense early on, but OSU's front 4 on defense is going to have it's way with the PSU offensive line, force turnovers, and keep the Lions' defense on the field too long. It won't be as ugly as last season in Columbus, but it won't be close either.
Ohio State 37-9
Tim A: Do I REALLY need to say something about this inevitable nationally televised blood bath that's about to ensue? Okay, the defense will give JT Barrett and Friends fits for most of the first half. Hell, I'll throw in an impressive-looking drive from the offense for good measure. A methodical TD drive for OSU right before the half though, opens the flood gates for more in the second half. Not to mention, the dynamic Buckeye D-line will wear down a PSU O-line that's weaker than Ukraine in RISK. The good news is A. The hoops squad has an intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday, so I'm guaranteed to see a PSU win one way or another and B. I'll in all likelihood be too drunk to feel feelings.
Ohio State 38-7
Nick Blonde: My head tells me this will be a slaughter, however these are the games where every now and then when you sometimes get to witness something magic. Hackenberg has the ability and showed what he could do in these type of games last year against Wisconsin. Ohio State hasn't played a truly hostile road game with J.T. Barrett, so it's still uncertain how he'll handle the environment and the defense. These Buckeyes did inexplicably lose to an atrocious Virginia Tech team, so nothing is out of the realm of possibility.
Ohio State 31-10
Ohio State 45-3
Chad: It could get ugly, but Penn State's defense, backed by the home crowd, will keep Ohio State from blowing it wide open. That, along with keeping Chrisitan Hackeberg healthy for 60 minutes, is the best James Franklin and co. can hope for though. Until the offensive line gets figured out, I won't feel comfortable predicting a win for the Nittany Lions.
Ohio State 17-7
Nick Page: OSU's defensive line is monstrous. I expect that alone to completely decimate the offense's chance of much success. Our defense should do an okay job of stopping Ohio State, but with the offensive production that I see coming from Hack and company, they'll break eventually.
Ohio State 38-16
Nikki: Unless by some act of God our offensive line has matured by 2 years over the bye week, I can't see anything good happening for our offense. I expect OSU to cover the spread and pray that it doesn't get worse than that. I intend to watch the game through some heavy beer/Fireball goggles so the scoreboard is too blurry to read numbers. Considering taking out my contact lenses for the game. Still love you, Lions.
Ohio State 28-6
Dan: Ohio State rolls into Happy Valley with arguably the nation's best defensive line in tow which means it will be a long night for arguably the nation's worst offensive line. J.T. Barrett has blossomed during the first half of his freshman season and is playing with a confidence that he'll need to hold onto as he steps into the Whiteout that will engulf Beaver Stadium. I'm a big Barrett fan watching him play and I don't think that will be a problem.
With an offense that is unlikely to get anything going and a defense that will spend a whole lot of time on the field and tire out sooner than wanted, this game is going to be ugly. Plus, no matter the status of Penn State, Ohio State coming into Beaver Stadium at night and getting a big win is a statement. After an early season loss to now-hapless Virginia Tech, Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes will look to make every statement they can in order to gain entrance into the Playoff as they should. I have zero confidence in a win and, well....
Ohio State 41-0
FROM THE PREVIEW:
Jared: Ohio State 30-6
FROM THE PODCAST:
Cari: Ohio State 35-17
Adam: Ohio State 28-10
Bill: Ohio State 41-10