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Lion In Wait: Penn State Versus Ohio State

Lion In Wait is Onward State’s football column for Penn State conference games.  Published Friday at 5 P.M. before games featuring Big Ten opponents, LIW emphasizes the game from a fan perspective.

Terrelle Pryor is a gift to sports fans.

He’s the perfect antagonist. Think about it – not only did he milk the attention of the media by delaying his decision to over a month past national signing day, but he managed to bait two teams (Penn State, Michigan) while ultimately choosing a hated rival. He called State College too “country.”

Pryor gets the due attention of any top-ranked recruit and then some. Try watching SportsCenter for a week without hearing about him. He could play a pick-up game against a elementary school gym class and it would get coverage. People say he’s self-centered – he remarked “the [Beaver Stadium] crowd will be against us, but especially against me” – but there’s truth to that statement. Not only is Terrelle Pryor focused on Terrelle Pryor, a decent amount of college football fans are as well.

It’s because, on top of being athletically gifted, he is incredibly fun to root against. I would argue that Ohio State’s rivals get more joy out of watching Pryor lose than Buckeye fans get watching him win. Think if Todd Boeckman had been the starter against Penn State in last season’s game at the Horseshoe. Would it have been as satisfying to watch him sulk in an emptying stadium? No – primarily because he wouldn’t have been there in the first place. He would have most likely faded in with a disappointed Buckeye team. Pryor embraces his status as an anointed player – and with that comes the greater stakes of defeat.

And if you think about it, it’s much more fun that way.

History Lesson

Much like the ‘History Lesson’ segment of my column for this season’s game at Michigan, I feel that any attempt to represent the history between these two teams here would not do this rivalry justice. However, Black Shoe Diaries has a great narrative chronicling the first meeting between the two teams in 1912. I found it had just the right-amount of face-stomping.

Public Enemy Number One

Terrelle Pryor – Quarterback #2

Of course, as I reviewed in the introduction, Pryor is the obvious choice for this distinction based on fan hatred alone. But his status as Public Enemy Number One extends beyond his perceived egotism – he will make or break the game for the Buckeyes.

As the Collegian pointed out, the Lions’ defense has given up some production to mobile quarterbacks not named Tate Forcier. Northwestern’s offense moved the ball quite well before Mike Kafka got injured, and Kafka is not quite the physical specimen that the 6’6″ Pryor is. Forcing Pryor to make bad decisions will win this game for the Lions – if he gets into a rhythm, there will be a ton of pressure on Daryll Clark to match his production.

The X-Factor

Daryll Clark – QB #17

Speaking of Clark, he’s in a similar position as Pryor strategically. Though the former has fared much better the past few weeks, both quarterbacks are facing intimidating defenses that will look to rattle them early. While Clark has been immaculate since the Iowa loss, he hasn’t had the opportunity to prove that he can take a close game into his own hands and close the deal. If this anticipated defensive struggle turns into a shootout, #17 will have little room for error. This is not only a critical game in deciding Bowl Placement for Penn State, but in determining Clark’s legacy as a college quarterback.

Tips For The Game

1) Whiteout conditions this Saturday. Dress accordingly.

2) Stay loud. During Ohio State’s last visit to Beaver Stadium (in 2007), things got reallllly quiet after the Buckeyes scored on their first three possessions. A huge part of home field advantage is crowd noise, so remember that you’ve got a job to do as a fan.

3) Do us proud. Whether we win or lose, we don’t have to sacrifice our status as an honorable fan base.

Prediction
Right now the experts are predicting Penn State by 5. I think this is generous – Ohio State may have been inconsistent on offense, but they’re a driven team that is in control of its own destiny – a win in Beaver Stadium and against Iowa in the Horseshoe would all but give them the Big Ten Championship.

Penn State 17
, Ohio State 12. This isn’t going to be a pretty win, but if Penn State’s defense can buy some time for Daryll Clark and the rest of the offense to warm up, there’s a good chance we’ll win.

About the Author

Mark

Mark McColey is a Senior majoring in Advertising and Labor-Employment relations. Among his loves are Penn State Football, The Steelers, The Penguins, The Simpsons, Tina Fey, and Arrested Development.

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