This one should be fun...but barring some #averageofficiating the Nittany Lions should emerge unscathed, despite facing their toughest competition to date; the Buckeyes are down a few pieces and have some questionable redshirts burned, and are looking to chase Penn State after nabbing their first NCAA title last year.
The Lions lost to Ohio State in Columbus a year ago 22-15 but lead the overall series. The last time the two squads met in University Park, this happened. And it was glorious, and led to the demolition of the Buckeyes to the tune of 31-6.
This year poses some intriguing matchups, but this PSU squad has all the firepower and momentum on their side--plus a sold-out BJC crowd to boot. Let's hope the flu bug that's going around doesn't hurt Tom Ryan's squad, who heads in with one conference loss (to last week's Nittany Lion victim, Michigan).
How To Watch
What: #1 Penn State (12-0, 7-0 Big Ten) vs #3/7 Ohio State (9-2, 6-1 Big Ten)
Where: Bryce Jordan Center/University Park, PA
When: Friday, 6 pm ET
Audio: Free Jeff "Ironhead" Byers, via GoPSUSports
Video: Live on the Big Ten Network
|No. 1 Penn State||WT||No. 3 Ohio State|
|#4 - Nico Megaludis (Sr., Murraysville, PA)||125||#1 - Nathan Tomasello (So., Parma, OH)|
|#5 - Jordan Conaway (Sr., Abbottstown, PA)||133||#10 - Johnni DiJulius (Sr., Aurora, OH)|
#14 - Jimmy Gulibon (Jr., Derry, PA)
OR Kade Moss (So., South Jordan, UT)
#4 - Micah Jordan (Fr., Urbana, OH)
|#1 - Zain Retherford (So., Benton, PA)||149||
UR - Hunter Steiber (Sr., Monroeville, OH)
OR UR - Mike Hozan (So, Homerville, OH)
OR UR Matt Davis (Fr., Chatham, NJ)
OR - Cody Burcher (Fr., Gnadenhutten, OH)
|#1 - Jason Nolf (Fr., Kitanning, PA)||157||
#11 - Jake Ryan (Fr., Powell, OH)
OR UR - Justin Kresevic (Jr., Solon, OH)
#17 - Shakur Rasheed (Fr., Coram, NY)
OR Geno Morelli (Jr., DuBois, PA)
|165||#2 - Bo Jordan (So., St. Paris, OH)|
|#1 - Bo Nickal (Fr., Allen, TX)||174||#14 - Myles Martin (Fr., Penns Grove, NJ)|
#9 - Matt McCutcheon (So., Kiski Area, PA)
OR UR - Brian Brill (Jr., Lock Haven, PA)
OR UR - Devon Van Cura (Fr., Washington, NC)
|184||#13 - Kenny Courts (Sr., Harrisburg, PA)|
|#1 - Morgan McIntosh (Sr., Santa Ana, CA)||197||
UR - Mark Martin (Sr., Strongsville, OH)
OR UR - Jack Rozema (So., Wyoming, MI)
UR - Jan Johnson (Fr., Mohnton, PA)
OR UR - Wes Phipps (So., Grove City, PA)
#2 - Kyle Snyder (So, Woodbine, MD)
125 LBS - Match of the Meet #1
Tomasello's undefeated on the season, the returning NCAA champ at this weight. In other words, he's pretty dang good. This will be a really good test for Nico, and for the crowd; it's a barometer to see how far Nico's come since his early season loss to Joey Dance of Virginia Tech, and whether he'll be able to make it to the top of the podium--or if he'll perennially be on either side. I have faith in Nico, but maybe not just yet--my money's on him to lose a close one (down to the wire, maybe even SV like the Dance loss) this week, and make up for it in March, when it counts.
Prediction: Tomasello by Decision
Score: PSU 0, Ohio State 3
I'm just underwhelmed by DiJulius, and I find his ranking artificially inflated--even though he's dropped from where he was earlier in the year. I think Conaway will dominate him, much like he did Bruno last week; perhaps he won't quite build up the 2+ minutes of riding time, but I have a feeling this one will never truly feel in doubt. Why not, when Gulibon upset Johnni last year, and Conaway is better this year than Jimmy was last?
Prediction: Jordan by Decision
Score: PSU 3, Ohio State 3
141 LBS - Match of the Meet #2
Bo's younger brother, Jordan is coming off a B1G wrestler of the week distinction and only has one loss on the year--to Missou's Matt Manley. He could make a run this year for the podium, and if Jimmy wants to hang around and make All-American, this is the match to make some noise. Despite a very solid revenge win over UM's Fisher last week, I'm not sure Gulibon's quite there yet; I think, though, that he makes it a lot closer than Micah , who's been used to getting bonus more often than not, is expecting.
Prediction: Micah Jordan by Decision
Score: PSU 3, Ohio State 6
Technically Hunter Steiber isn't listed in the prematch notes. I don't care, because I wanted to put him there anyway just to reminisce about the last time Zain faced an Ohio State wrestler. It was fun. More of that, please.
Prediction: ZPain by PIn
Score: PSU 9, Ohio State 6
157 LBS - Match of the Meet #3
Jake Ryan, the coach's son, only has one loss on the year--but it was a big one, losing via tech fall to Isaiah Martinez. IMar, as I'm sure all of you fine readers remembers, has a style fairly similar to Jason Nolf's--though Nolf is able to gas his opponents quicker, as the returning champ himself found out a few weeks ago. Ryan's no slouch of a wrestler, but he also is not on Nolf's level. I'm going conservative here in picking the major, when I could just as easily see a tech or a pin. But I wouldn't be surprised if Ryan's been coached to attempt to limit what damage he can, and if the refs aren't dinging the Buckeyes for stalling, Nolf may only be able to pick up one bonus and few back points.
Prediction: Nolf by Major
Score: PSU 13, Ohio State 6
The creamery may be closed, but they sell it at the concession stands at the BJC. You're welcome. Just let me butt in line, please.
Here's the think about Shakur Rasheed: he can catch the big fishes unaware, much like he did against Purdue's Chad Welch, when he pinned him in the first period. I think the undefeated Bo Jordan comes into this match incredibly cocky, not without reason, looking to make a dent and finally get himself on the top of the podium this March. Sheed won't make it easy for him, unlike many at this weight (of his twelve victories, four are pins and three are tech falls) but ultimately, after coming out on fire, I think Bo realizes by the end that he's Bo Jordan and settles down, despite the crowd.
Prediction: Bo Jordan by Decision
Score: PSU 13, Ohio State 9
Martin got his redshirt burned in January against Illinois, when he came out on fire in a tech fall against Brunson's backup. He then proceeded to lose to Michigan's Davonte Mahomes, and more surprisingly, last week against Purdue's Jacob Morrissey. He has a few good wins on the year, but nowhere near as many as Bo--and Nickal's a more confident and complete wrestler than he was when he came out on the good side of a 4-3 decision over Martin in the early rounds of the Nittany Lion Open. This one should be a pretty sound beating, leaving Martin's dad to lament over the lost redshirt even more on Buckeye message boards.
Prediction: Bo by Major
Score: PSU 17, Ohio State 9
184 LBS - Match of the Meet #4
Kenny Courts likes to stall. My first memory of watching him wrestle involves watching him run away from Ed Ruth for seven minutes so he wouldn't get pinned en route to a 14-3 major decision in 2013. This did not leave a good taste in my mouth. Matt McCutcheon, on the other hand, wants revenge for last year's NCAA tournament, and I'll be very surprised if he doesn't get the go this week, no matter what pain he's in. I'd pick a bonus point win here if he hadn't been injured in the Illinois dual; as it is, I think he gets a satisfying win, and sits until the Big Ten tournament.
Prediction: Mouse by Decision
Score: PSU 20, Ohio State 9
Mark Martin hasn't wrestled for Ohio State since losing to Michigan's Huntley in early December, and if he's not a go, it could get bad--bow and arrow bad. If he is the one to get a shot at ruining McIntosh's perfect season, well...maybe he'll be able to keep it to a regular decision. If Rozema goes, I'm figuring a pin here, to get the BJC crowd on their feet. Otherwise, a major with back points and riding time. We'll even it out, and call it a tech.
Prediction: Morg by Tech Fall
Score: PSU 25, Ohio State 9
Johnson was kept off his back last week, and I couldn't be happier to have been wrong. On the other side, Tom Ryan burned Kyle Snyder's redshirt this year to put him in at heavyweight; this week was supposed to be his first dual back, but he got a taste when he majored Nebraska's Collin Jensen a few weeks ago. He's ranked #2 at heavy despite only wrestling once this year, solely because of his freestyle title (not a bad thing to have) but the burning of his shirt within a lineup with very little shot to win the title is still suspect, at best. He'll win this bout, likely against Johnson, with the only question being how much (side note: still wondering what happened to Tavanello...enlighten me in the comments)
Prediction: Snyder by Major
Score: PSU 25, Ohio State 13