Somewhere along the line, the general discussion leading up to this game started to revolve around Ohio State’s offense and the inability of Penn State to stop them. I agree Dwayne Haskins, J.K. Dobbins, and Mike Weber lead a potent attack, but somehow everyone has already forgotten about Trace McSorley and the powder keg he currently sits atop of. The question of how the Nittany Lions will go about replacing Saquon Barkley was answered and then seemingly disregarded. Despite all the miscues, Penn State still has the highest scoring offense thus far this season, so just imagine what they could do if they iron out the kinks. It will interesting to see what new wrinkles the Nittany Lions unveil to further expand the offensive to attack the numerous soft spots in the Buckeyes defense and how much Penn State’s defense and the crowd can disrupt the visitors. I’m fully ready for a track meet and all anxiety that entail.
Penn State 52, Ohio State 48
I think I have a confession to make - I may actually be a fair weather fan. Not that I’m going to bail on this team if they do poorly - I attended PSU starting in 2004. I sat through 6-4. I endured the scandal. I’m not going anywhere. But coming into this season, I predicted a playoff berth. Then literally the first game of the season happened, and I was sure we’d struggle to make a bowl game.
Now, things look better in hindsight - Appalachian State is actually good, as are we. But our defense has continued to be a sieve, especially against the run. The DTs get blown out of the way, and the LBs are routinely out of position. So while our offense is currently leading the nation in points per game, sooner or later an offense is going to come along that can keep up with us. Enter Ohio State.
Now, I think OSU is mortal. I expect our offense to put up some points. But Mike Weber and JK Dobbins are going to go off on this defense, and Dwayne Haskins is accurate enough in the passing game that if the secondary commits to stopping the run, their wide receivers will torch us. The whiteout helps, but it’s not enough.
Ohio State 56, Penn State 49
The honest truth is that Penn State, as fantastic as the offense is, has enough issues and questions on defense that I don’t see this weekend resulting in a win. Yes l, I know that Penn State is a second half team; yes, I know it’s a PSU home game —— but the youth and lack of consistent tackling by the defense will be the edge that Ohio State needs to push ahead. It will be a somewhat high scoring game as a battle of the offenses, and the Buckeyes will come out on top. I think it’s a Buckeye win with OSU 42-PSU 38 but hope that the Nittany Lions will prove me wrong as they did in 2016.
Ohio State 42, Penn State 38
I’ve spent the last week or so talking about how Ohio State will score a ton of points on PSU, but also how PSU will score a ton of points on Ohio State. Now that the time has come to make an actual pick, I’m not convinced the game will be as high scoring as everybody is predicting. The weather will be perfect, so that’s not an issue, and both offenses are fantastic, but games never seem to actually reach the shootout status we predict.
Penn State benefits from the absence of stud defensive end Nick Bosa due to injury, but the OSU front is still mean and nasty.
For the Buckeyes, Dwayne Haskins has been fantastic but he’s never faced an environment quite like the one he’ll see Saturday night, and don’t give me that Jerry World BS when the crowd was at least 60/40 OSU. If Haskins can continue to light it up, he’ll move to the top of the Heisman running in my opinion, but that’s a tall order.
My head says Ohio State, but my gut says take the experienced QB with a history of big wins playing in front of a raucous home crowd.
Penn State 40, Ohio State 35
Penn State is #1 in the FBS in scoring offense and Ohio State is #2 and both team’s defenses have been shoddy at times this season. So, expect a lot of points on Saturday night.
The Buckeye offense has been lethal this season as Dwayne Haskins has quickly become one of the best quarterbacks in the FBS, and he is paired with the dynamic running back duo of JK Dobbins and Mike Weber. Generating pressure on Haskins will be key on Saturday night. Against TCU, the one defense to have any sort of success against OSU this season, Haskins struggled when the Horned Frogs got in his face. Due to this, I would love to see Brent Pry unleash Micah Parsons as a pass rusher this weekend and let him chase Haskins around the field. If the Nittany Lions get Shane Simmons back that could be a huge boost.
While Ohio State’s defense has been better than Penn State’s, it has been far from perfect. Their back seven is vulnerable and their best pass rusher Nick Bosa will not play on Saturday night. Trace McSorley and the Penn State passing attack should be able to move the ball on the Buckeye defense. It’s also impossible to not have faith in the offensive line and the rushing attack led by Miles Sanders. Exploiting the Buckeye linebackers and safeties may be the key to offensive success for the Nittany Lions on Saturday.
Ultimately, this game will come down to Penn State’s ability to stop the Buckeye rushing attack. This is something I do not have much faith in. Penn State’s rush defense has been gashed time and time again this season by rushing attacks much lesser than that of Ohio State’s. While I expect the Nittany Lion offense to have success, I believe the Buckeye offense will have more.
Ohio State 45, Penn State 35
Ah, nothing like a big time not-a-rivalry game to get the juices flowing. Both teams have great offenses, both teams have so-so defenses, and I doubt either team is a legitimate National Championship contender this year. But hey, the whole great offenses thing will make this really fun...until we have to watch a Penn State linebacker try to tackle JK Dobbins one-on-one. That won’t be fun.
I said it before the season, and it remains true today: the Penn State defense is another year away from being at the level it needs to be at. Granted, I will talk myself into Penn State (I can only doubt a Trace McSorley led team for so long) come Friday night, I am going with my head for this one.
Ohio State 49, Penn State 44
I won’t lie, I’ve been flip-flopping throughout this whole week about which team will win. In terms of stats, this is one of the evenest matchups you could ever see, the numbers are nearly identical. One thing I do know is there will be a ton of points on Saturday and there will be plenty of fireworks.
My biggest issue with Penn State is the defense that at times this season has looked lost on the field. The Buckeyes will take advantage of any mistake especially with Dwayne Haskins behind center, he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the country and his accuracy is near unfair. That being said, I think if Penn State’s defensive line can play their best game of the year and get consistent pressure on Haskins it will go a long way. The crowd will also be huge on Saturday. Then you have the Penn State offense, the best in the country (by stats) and Ohio State’s defense has shown their own miscues throughout the season. Trace McSorley hasn’t had the greatest start to his season missing on a few key passes (not including drops) and he’ll need to have a heroic effort against the Buckeyes.
For me, this game will come down to special teams and whichever team doesn’t shoot itself in the foot. If Penn State can win both of those, they’ll have a great shot at the win on Saturday night but that remains to be seen especially in stopping themselves from committing dumb penalties. Right now, I”m going to go with my gut and say Ohio State by the slimmest of margins.
Ohio State 52, Penn State 49
Pessimistic Lando is back, folks. This game always ties me up in knots the entire day and especially so during the game. Ohio State comes in with an extremely accurate and poised quarterback in Dwayne Haskins (yes, I know this is his first huge road test), and lots of offensive weapons. OSU’s skill on that side of the ball, coupled with Penn State’s somewhat inconsistent linebacker and defensive line play (with some exceptions), means that the Nittany Lions will most likely have to outscore their foe, as many here have predicted.
Can Trace, Miles, KJ, and crew outlast Urban? Absolutely. “Will they?” is another question entirely. Despite my belief in the offensive firepower of the Blue and White, I think they come up just short in this one.
Ohio State 45, Penn State 42
After watching what J.T. Barrett did to Penn State’s defense last year, I have my doubts that Dwayne Haskins -- who already looks like a better passer than Barrett -- won’t do much of the same. Penn State will make some big plays and keep the game close throughout, but Ohio State triumphs in the end.
Ohio State 45, Penn State 38
If there is one lesson I’ve learned from the 2016 upset victory, it’s to never say never. With the electric White Out atmosphere to make things as complicated as possible for the Ohio State offense and with the dynamic duo of Trace McSorley and Miles Sanders leading PSU’s offensive attack, the Nittany Lions most certainly stand a chance at pulling the upset.
However, I have a difficult time seeing how PSU’s defense is going to stop JK Dobbins and Mike Weber from running all over then on a consistent basis, not to mention Dwayne Haskins’ ability to carve up the secondary with a seemingly endless supply of blue chip receivers to throw to. Thus far, PSU’s defense has only come up with five turnovers in four games. They’re going to need to force at least two turnovers to give themselves a chance at holding the Buckeyes below the 40-point threshold and increase their chances at winning this game.
And then there is the slow starts to the game, particularly the second quarter lulls this team has developed a nasty habit of. Rest assured that if they suffer another one of said lulls, they will find themselves down by at least two touchdowns at halftime.
I think you will see a more energized, focused defensive effort Saturday night, but the weaknesses will still exploited quite a bit. Perhaps a bit too much for even the dynamic offense to make up for.
Ohio State 44, Penn State 41
Because Penn State wasted its one decent non-conference slot on feckless Pitt, our Lions face a must-win against the Buckeyes Saturday night. PSU beat Pitt 51-6, and it doesn’t make a lick of difference to the playoff committee. It could’ve been 510 to 6, and it still wouldn’t matter, because Pitt doesn’t matter - not to anyone, least of all the playoff committee. There’s no back door to the playoffs when Pitt is your “big” non-conference victory.
And you’re not getting in through the front door of the playoffs if you don’t beat the Buckeyes. A loss means you’re two games back in the East division, to a squad that’s lost two conferences games just one time in the last 14 seasons - when Luke Fickell was looking confused as interim head coach. In fact, there are only two other programs in the entire conference that have managed to beat the Buckeyes at any point since Urban Meyer took the job, let alone two in the same year.
This is it, friends. Saturday night is it. And there’s no way I’m picking anything other than a PSU win. So let’s just kickoff, already.
Last year, many a Penn Stater was supremely confident headed into the game at the ‘Shoe, thinking that because the Lions had one of their most talented teams in a while (true), they would win (not true). I was not one of them; as evidenced by the past few years, winning away from home in the Big Ten is tough, and the Lions took on Ohio State before their BYE week, against a senior quarterback.
Well, I’m still not supremely confident (this defense and the reversion to a second half squad will do that to you!) but I’m one of the few who feels better this year than last – a small few, apparently, as many, PSUers and Buckeyes fans alike, think Ohio State’s team will win this one going away. Not if Trace McSorley, and the best Nittany Lions offensive line in a decade, have anything to say about it.
PLAYERS ON THE SPOT: The defensive line. The linebackers get a bunch of ire after their play (and lack of elite recruiting as compared to most other position groups) – but this week, it’s all about the guys up front. If the D-line can start dominating the line of scrimmage, not only will it help the ‘backers clean up in the run game, but it will start to force Dwayne Haskins, who’s one of the best pocket passers to come out of Columbus in quite a while, to throw in uncomfortable situations. He hasn’t had to start and play an entire game in a location as fierce as a Penn State Whiteout (Michigan Stadium, for all its accolades, just doesn’t hold a candle), and if the line can rattle him early, it could prevent the nation’s No. 2 scoring offense from pacing the No. 1.
DON’T BE SURPRISED IF … the Lions come out on fire and score first – only to let the Buckeyes take the lead shortly thereafter.
THE PICK: Because I’m predicting a shootout, it’ll be the opposite. But I can’t change course now. This game will come down to the wire, and very likely be won by the team who has the ball last. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’ll be McSorley, who would give it all (maybe even a few series at safety) in order to win this one. It’ll be close, but the Lions’ll come up short and the home winning streak will come to an end.
Ohio State 49, Penn State 45.
This game could go either way, but there’s just enough that concerns me about Penn State for me to pull the trigger. While this is the most talented team to play under James Franklin, the youthfulness is all too obvious at times. In all four games, there have been too many mistakes- an abundance of penalties, dropped passes, bad reads, and just general mistakes that will sink a team with the talent level of the Buckeyes. I also don’t like the match-up of Dobbins and Weber running against Penn State’s inexperienced linebacker crew, which still needs plenty of development.
While Ohio State is lacking in experience in key spots as well, they are still loaded with playmakers that will make a team pay for any carelessness. A tipped pass against Appalachian State becomes a pick-six against the Buckeyes. A holding penalty against Illinois can be overcome, but is likely to completely kill a drive against Ohio State.
This will be an incredibly close game throughout, and could very well be the most entertaining college football game of the season. However, Ohio State just makes that one play late in the game to come out victorious.
Miles Sanders puts the Saquon Barkley talk to bed with a 150-yard, two touchdown performance. McSorley also has a huge day, with 350 yards and three touchdown tosses, with another coming on the ground. Shareef Miller is Penn State’s defensive MVP with two sacks and a forced fumble.
Note that this is the first time I’ve picked against Penn State since the 2016 Ohio State game, and we all know how that turned out. Let’s all hope you can come in here and say “told you so” around 11 p.m. on Saturday.
Ohio State 48, Penn State 42