Penn State did not play well against Michigan, due in part to the fact that Penn State is not built like Michigan. The Wolverines adopted the dominate-the-trenches-and-run-the-ball model of Wisconsin, but rather than being limited by 3-star athletes, they mixed in 4- and 5-star players. Penn State, rather, is built like Ohio State - speed everywhere, though perhaps at the expense of huge, dominating lines.
That means that Penn State SHOULD be better equipped to play Ohio State than they were Michigan. Here’s the problem: as I see it, Michigan is to Wisconsin as Ohio State is to Penn State. That is to say, OSU plays the same style of football as the Lions, but with better athletes.
To that end, I think Penn State can play well enough to hang with the Buckeyes for a bit - perhaps even well into the second half - before the talent disparity arises. As has often been the case the last few years, the Lions hang tough, but OSU wins it - and tacks on a late score to make the game look less competitive than it actually was.
Ohio State 45, Penn State 27
Here’s a stat for you - in all 8 of James Franklin’s games as a head coach against Ohio State, Penn State has held the Buckeyes UNDER their season scoring average. Go ahead, look it up, too.
Last year, that was thanks in large part to Penn State’s ability to slow the Buckeyes in the red zone and force them to settle for field goals. Heading into Saturday, the Buckeyes are averaging nearly 50 points per game. Can they get that on the road against a hungry Penn State team, desperate to hang in the national picture? I doubt it. Penn State is built to bother Ohio State, if not beat them. But, I do think the Buckeyes will get enough points to keep the Lions at an arm’s length. Plus, despite an amazing performance on the White Out stage, I still don’t trust Penn State’s offense to put up the 35-ish points it would take to beat Ohio State.
Ohio State 34, Penn State 20
Yikes. I am expecting a rough outing, despite the fact that Penn State usually plays the Buckeyes tough (especially at home). The Nittany Lion secondary is under a lot of pressure to help make Ohio State one-dimensional, even if that dimension is very good. I think Brown, JPJ, Keaton Ellis, and crew force a turnover early, but the Nuts settle down and run it down the defensive line’s throat to solidify a punishing victory that looks closer than the reality of the contest.
Ohio State 35, Penn State 21
Penn State plays Ohio State tougher than any other team in the Big Ten. This Saturday will be no different, especially in front of what should be an electric Beaver Stadium crowd. Ohio State’s passing attack and wider receivers might be the best in the country, but Penn State’s secondary is the best in the Big Ten and arguably the best in the country. That matchup should be a very fun one to watch of strength v. strength.
The Nittany Lions will play the Buckeyes hard. Manny Diaz’s defense will battle and force some turnovers. Sean Clifford and the offense will fight throughout the game, but fail to go score for score for the whole length of the game. Penn State keeps it close, but the Buckeyes get a late score to ice it.
Ohio State 42, Penn State 28
This game is Penn State’s Super Bowl, so you can always expect the Lions to come out swinging and the coaching staff to empty the kitchen sink from the playbook. If you’re also a fan of watching “strength vs. strength” type of games, this is the game for you, as you have the vaunted Ohio State passing attack taking on arguably the best secondary in America. The Buckeyes do also boast a pair of stud running backs in lightning-quick TreyVeon Henderson and human wrecking ball Miyan Williams, so it will be imperative that the front seven doesn’t allow either of them to run wild like Michigan’s Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards did.
Offensively, PSU should be able to put up points on the Buckeye defense, but I have my doubts that they can keep pace with OSU’s own scoring ability. I think PSU keeps it close going into the fourth quarter (within 7-10 points) but OSU has one too many weapons for them to not step up and come up with a big play that ices this game late.
Ohio State 37, Penn State 27
(Originally appearing in the Game Preview)
Penn State did a fine job of picking itself off the mat with an overall outstanding performance in a blowout win against Minnesota. It was clear they learned some harsh lessons that made them better, as difficult as the Michigan game was to stomach. The Nittany Lions will be more competitive this game, and follow a similar pattern to previous match-ups with the Buckeyes - Penn State comes out with a great gameplan, makes the Buckeyes sweat for a while, but eventually give up a couple explosive plays that make the difference for the guys in scarlet and gray.
I don’t think it’s hopeless though. Penn State has standouts throughout the secondary and a tenacious pass rush, which could lead to some problems for the Buckeyes offense. If they get them out of rhythm and force turnovers, then we may be partying all day and night in Happy Valley.
It could happen, but I’m far removed from saying it will happen.
Ohio State 35, Penn State 20
Well someone has to clear the stench of Ohio State in this here article, ain’t? So let’s runs a tiny checklist:
Blowout against Michigan? Check
Cathartic win against Minnesota? Check
Two touchdown underdogs to Ohio State? Check
Said Buckeyes ranked No. 2? Check
No one in their right mind believing Penn State can win this game based on what Michigan did a few weeks prior? Check.
All we’re missing is the dumb loss by the Wolverines (dear god Michigan State do something!) and the cycle will be complete.
ThE dEaTh StAr StRiKeS aGaIn! Or it doesn’t.
Penn State 56, Ohio State 17