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and what happened just seconds later? “He’s got the chin!”
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

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

The Nittany Lions are on the road again in Big Ten dual action!

The one sure thing on a PSU wrestling schedule is a Big Ten dual meet versus Ohio State. This year, it’s in Columbus with a resurgent Buckeye team that is better than most are giving them credit for, without a true hole in their lineup.

Matchups between Penn State and Ohio State are always memorable, even not in the dual meet format. Tom Ryan, for all the grief this blogger has given him, has brought OSU up to heights they’d never before seen in their program’s history - but they still have some work to do if they want to be a perennial national title contender.

In no small part because of the plethora of very good wrestlers on both sides, nearly every time these two programs meet on the mat there’s fireworks; some of my favorites are likely unsurprising, like a not-yet-starting-wrestler Anthony Cassar taking down then-number one Kollin Moore, allowing Nick Nevills to go be able to secure the dual for the Lions by not giving up bonus to superman Kyle Snyder.

But my favorite, like most Penn State fans’s, is unquestionably this one:

Just give me any excuse to post that, and I’ll take it.

What fireworks or unexpected outcomes will we see this week? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

How To Watch

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

Where: Covelli Center, Columbus, OH

When: Friday, February 3, 7:00 PM EST

Audio: Free (via GoPSUSports)

Video: Big Ten Network

Lineup

#1 Penn State WT #5 Ohio State
#1 Penn State WT #5 Ohio State
Gary Steen (Fr., Hermitage, PA) 125 #10 - Malik Heinselman (Sr., Castle Rock, CO)
#1 - Roman Bravo-Young (Sr., Tucson, AZ) 133 #9 - Jesse Mendez (Fr., Crown Point, IN)
#5 - Beau Bartlett (Jr., Tempe, AZ) 141 #19 - Dylan D'Emilio (Jr., Curtice, OH)
#13 - Shayne Van Ness (Fr., Somerville, NJ) 149 #3 - Sammy Sasso (Sr., Nazareth, PA)
#9 - Levi Haines (Fr., Arendtsville, PA) 157 #25 - Paddy Gallagher (Fr., Chesterfield, OH)
#8 - Alex Facundo (Fr., Essexville, MI) 165 #12 - Carson Kharchla (Jr., Powell, OH)
#1 - Carter Starocci (Jr., Erie, PA) 174 #7 - Ethan Smith (Sr., Latrobe, PA)
#1 - Aaron Brooks (Sr., Hagerstown, MD) 184 #5 - Kaleb Romero (Sr., Mechanicsburg, OH)
#4 - Max Dean (Sr., Lowell, MI) 197 #17 - Gavin Hoffman (Sr., Mountoursville, PA)
#2 - Greg Kerkvliet (So., Grove Heights, MN) 285 #18 - Tate Orndorff (Sr., Spokane, WA)

125 LBS

The entire BJC was on its feet last week when Marco Vespa not only took the mat against likely Hodge winner Spencer Lee, but also scored the first takedown of the dual meet. And even though he lost by tech fall in the first, it wasn’t a pin, and it didn’t break the confidence that Gary Steen had gained in notching his first Big Ten dual meet victory the Sunday before, against the ranked Tristan Lujan of MSU.

As for this week, well—even though he’s ranked number ten, Heinselman has not really impressed me. I’m throwing a Gulibon here and predicting bonus, but I honestly could very easily see this one come down the wire.

Prediction: Heinselman by major decision

Score: PSU 0, OSU 4

133 LBS

The first of three battles of top ten wrestlers—and all with the Nittany Lion ranked first, and defending back-to-back NCAA titles. This one won’t ever be in doubt, though I expect, like in the Michigan dual and for 6 minutes of the Iowa dual, Mendez will have been coached to not take any real shots or give RBY an opportunity at bonus.

Prediction: RBY by decision

Score: PSU 3, OSU 4

141 LBS

Beau never really got his offense going against Real Woods, which feels typical in many if not most dual meets against the Hawkeyes. He’ll get back on track this week, and keep on track to make a marquee Friday night appearance in Tulsa. This could be a one-point decision, or a pin. Let’s be conservative for once.

Prediction: Bartlett by decision

Score: PSU 6, OSU 4

149 LBS

In his last outing, Shayne Van Ness let Max Murin absolutely control the bout from start to finish, and paid for it. When he’s on his offense, he can beat Murin (and Sasso) but I’m not so sure enough time has passed for that to happen yet. Check back with me in a month.

Prediction: Sasso by decision

Score: PSU 6, OSU 7

157 LBS

The redshirt is officially pulled, much to the chagrin of an Iowa fan in my section of the BJC who couldn’t believe it was pulled just for that bout. This is why Cael is going for ten of twelve.

Also, these two wrestled last February, before Haines was officially on the roster, and Levi won 8-3. I’ve seen nothing that makes me think this will change.

Prediction: Haines by major decision

Score: PSU 10, OSU 7

165 LBS

Another freshman who let the Hawkeye dictate the pace and paid the price, Facundo looked…off on Friday in taking on Patrick Kennedy. A bounceback win against a solid Buckeye (albeit one who got pinned by an angry Cam Amine last week) should help bolster his resume, though I still think this weight is one of the most difficult to break into the top three of.

Prediction: Facundo by decision

Score: PSU 13, OSU 7

174 LBS

Carter was never really going to lose last week; and if Nelson Brands ever took a shot in the first 6:30, he’d have paid dearly. But he wasn’t penalized for it like he should have been, which feels par for the course in recent Iowa years, and so we have an incoming Hawkeye freshman calling Starocci “overrated”. Let’s see how that’s going to work out for him.

Prediction: Carter by decision

Score: PSU 16, OSU 7

184 LBS

After his first loss, Brooks has looked even more like a man on a mission. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see bonus from last week on out through the NCAA finals. Romero is very good. AB could be an Olympic champion, and beat the Buckeye by major the only time they’ve wrestled (last year’s NCAAs).

Prediction: AB by major decision

Score: PSU 20, OSU 7

197 LBS

Speaking of looking good since a loss, Max Dean is looking pretty dominant, as usual on top. And no matter the head gear tosses or fights with your coaches, if you can’t keep Dean on bottom, you aren’t going to win against last year’s champ.

Prediction: Dean by decision

Score: PSU 23, OSU 7

285 LBS

Another title contender who made his very good opponent look very underwhelming, Kerk will face another veteran this week. But a week after Orndorff ducked Mason Parris (which allowed his backup to be pinned in OSU’s win over michigan), will he even wrestle? If yes, it’ll be a dominant major decision. If no, another six points for Greg.

Prediction: Kerk by major decision

Score: PSU 27, OSU 7

Overall score prediction: Penn State 27, Ohio State 7


*The Penn State athletic department, in its official capacity, uses Intermat Tournament Rankings in all its match literature; I’m using Intermat’s Dual Meet rankings because this happens to be a dual. Penn State is #1 in both rankings; Ohio State is #5 in the dual meet rankings, and #10 in the tournament rankings.

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