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Wrestling Preview: No. 1 Penn State vs No. 5 Ohio State

After a dominating win over the then-undefeated Wolverines last week, the Nittany Lions next head to Columbus.

NCAA Wrestling: DI Wrestling Championships
of course this is the photo we’d use
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Last year, this dual was the event circled on every NCAA wrestling fan’s calendar; OSU was the #1 dual team throughout the season up until this dual, and Penn State was the #1 tournament team.

Just after Jason Nolf went down against Rutgers, Ohio State headed into Rec Hall , playing the heel to the hometown favorite Nittany Lions - even if the pre-planned Rocky theme music wasn’t what they entered the venue to. With PSU down one of their hammers, I predicted it to be tied at 18 - with OSU winning the dual on criteria. And even if it wasn’t how I predicted, that overall score was pretty darn close - with the Buckeyes scoring an upset at 141 when then-lower ranked Stanford transfer Joey McKenna took out Nick Lee - and then a stunner at 197 when backup Anthony Cassar took out then-undefeated Kollin Moore.

Then, the Big Ten tournament, where Tom Ryan soars - and with a still-hobbled Nolf not wrestling much, it was no surprise when the Buckeyes grabbed the conference tourney crown (the dual season crown staying in Happy Valley).

Then a blissful St Patty’s Day weekend in Cleveland, where the hometown crowd roared for the Buckeyes and the NCAA title went down to the wire. I was sitting next to a teenaged fan of Myles Martin, and when he took Bo over to his back the fan stood up and yelled - only to moments later sit down in disgust as I bolted upright and screamed my head off. In addition to winning the title, Bo’s win meant that I could unabashedly root for Kyle Snyder to win - though the stands almost instantaneously cleared out after the heavyweight bout, well before the award ceremonies.

But this is a different year, and some of the highest ranked Buckeyes (Snyder, Nathan Tomasello, Bo Jordan) exhausted of eligibility, this team isn’t a scrub - despite Michigan dominating two weeks ago. This dual will likely be closer than either team’s dual against the Wolverines - to the lamentation of many a Penn State fan - and will take place in OSU’s old basketball arena, not their new one that holds 6k more fans. Apparently moving the dual to the Schottenstein Center isn’t how Tom Ryan would’ve handled it.

How To Watch

What: #1 Penn State vs #5 Ohio State*

Where: St John Arena, Columbus, OH

When: Friday, February 8, 8:40 pm

Audio: Free, Jeff “Ironhead” Byers, via GoPSUSports

Video: BTN


No. 1 Penn State WT No. 5 Ohio State
No. 1 Penn State WT No. 5 Ohio State
Devin Schnupp (So., Lititz, PA) 125 Malik Heinselman (Fr., Castle Rock, CO)
#15 - Roman Bravo-Young (Fr., Tucson, AZ) 133 #6 - Luke Pletcher (Jr., Latrobe, PA)
#5 - Nick Lee (So., Evansville, IN) 141 #2 - Joey McKenna (Sr., Towaco, NJ)
#11 - Brady Berge (Fr., Mantorville, MN) OR Jerod Verkleeren (Fr., Greensburg, PA) 149 #3 - Micah Jordan (Sr., St Paris, OH)
#1 - Jason Nolf (Sr., Yatesboro, PA) 157 #6 - Ke-Shawn Hayes (Jr., Kansas City, MO)
#1 - Vincenzo Joseph (Jr., Pittsburgh, PA) 165 Kaleb Romero (Fr., Mechanicsburg, OH) OR #12 - Te'Shan Campbell (Sr., Pittsburgh, PA)
#1 - Mark Hall (Jr., Apple Valley, MN) 174 #18 - Ethan Smith (Fr., Latrobe, PA)
#2 - Shakur Rasheed (Sr., Coram, NY) 184 #1 - Myles Martin (Sr., Penns Grove, NJ)
#1 - Bo Nickal (Sr., Allen, TX) 197 #2 - Kollin Moore (Jr., Burbank, OH)
#3 - Anthony Cassar (Sr., Rocky Hill, NJ) OR Nick Nevills (Sr., Clovis, CA) 285 #19 - Chase Singletary (Fr., Naples, FL)

125 LBS

Prediction: Heinselman by decision

Score: PSU 0, OSU 3

133 LBS

Speaking of surprises in the wrestlestat prediction, it has RBY beating Pletcher! I mean, I 100% believe he can do it, but maybe not fresh off an injury. I’m expecting Pletcher to eke one out here, with RBY having his revenge in March in Minneapolis.

Prediction: Pletcher by decision

Score: PSU 0, OSU 6

141 LBS

Nick dominated Storr last week, much more than the final score indicated. He’s a better top wrestler this year, and this time being the favorite won’t be a problem against McKenna. But McKenna is one of the Buckeyes hunting for a title this week, and he’ll be out to prove he can make the finals. I think McKenna controls the action in the first period, and Lee is down just enough after the first 3 minutes that his offense won’t be enough to finish it.

Prediction: McKenna by decision

Score: PSU 0, OSU 9

149 LBS

Micah Jordan won the “who doesn’t want to be in Nolf’s weight class” wrestle off, and gets to cut weight for it. If Berge is able to go this week, he should make it a bout but whomever steps out there probably won’t have enough to overcome Jordan.

Prediction: Micah by decision

Score: PSU 0, OSU 2

157 LBS

Is the “Jason Nolf, next topic” meme going to be the next Mr. T? It sure as heck looks like it. Pantaleo was able to get a late takedown to prevent a bonus point win for Nolf, after taking neutral in the third instead of trying for an escape point - a dangerous proposition that worked for him. Hayes is nowhere near as good as Pantaleo, and he gets to face Penn State’s best wrestler for the second year in a row. Woof.

Prediction: Nolf by major decision

Score: PSU 4, OSU 12

165 LBS

Prediction: Joseph by decision

Score: PSU 7, OSU 12

174 LBS

I know I sound like a broken record, but Hall hasn’t been racking up the bonus so far this year - he’s been breaking opponents down, building up the riding time, and very rarely looking like he’s even close to being beaten (even against Zahid Valencia - though Myles Amine was the closest). I think he’ll be dominant against the PA native (with Smith only scoring escape points), but it’ll end up something like 6-1, or 8-2.

Prediction: Hall by decision

Score: PSU 10, OSU 12

184 LBS - Match of the Meet #1

Here’s where we see whether Shak’s shaken off the rust, or if this weight will be all MyMar, all the time. Unfortunately, I’m leaning towards the latter - Martin is very good, and now that he doesn’t have Bo Nickal to fear, he’s got this weight locked up.

Prediction: MyMar by major decision

Score: PSU 10, OSU 16

197 LBS - Match of the Meet #2

This weight was all Moore last year until he got toppled by Cassar in State College - he went on to do well the rest of the regular season and won the Big Ten title (defeating Shak in the finals) - but placed only fourth, after losing to Kent State’s hero of the tourney, Kyle Conel, who even pinned the Buckeye in the main draw to send him down to the consis. Nickal is one of the best wrestlers in the NCAAs this year, and Moore is very good - but simply not good enough to beat Bo. It should be close, but Moore won’t be able to finish a takedown in the third to get the win.

Prediction: Nickal by decision

Score: PSU 13, OSU 16

285 LBS

How much fun will this weight in this dual be, now that Snyder’s no longer wearing an OSU singlet? So much fun, I say, especially since Cassar’s been doing his best Kyle Snyder impression for much of the year. He dominate a very, very good Mason Parris last week - and Parris is better than Singletary. He’ll come out ready to win the dual for his squad, flash tattoos or no flash tattoos.

Prediction: Cassar by major decision

Score: PSU 17, OSU 16

*Ohio State is #2 in the Intermat tournament ranking; they are #5 in Intermat’s Dual rankings, and since this is, in point of fact, a dual, we used that.