Penn State-Ohio State Preview
Penn State takes on Ohio State on Saturday in Columbus, Ohio, in a game that could mean either everything or nothing for the Nittany Lions. Most likely though, this game will mean nothing, but that will be determined by Wisconsin. If the Badgers beat Illinois this Saturday, Penn State’s result against the Buckeyes has no bearing on its chances to make the Big Ten Championship Game. However, if Penn State wins and Wisconsin loses, the Nittany Lions will clinch a spot. While chances are Wisconsin will win, the Nittany Lions will still want to beat the Buckeyes heading into the final week of the regular season.
Team: Ohio State Buckeyes
Conference: Big Ten
Head Coach: Luke Fickell (6-4 in his first year)
Series History: Ohio State leads 14-12
Players to look for: QB Braxton Miller, RB Carlos Hyde, LB Andrew Sweat
Prediction: Ohio State wins 17-13
Penn State and Ohio State share many similarities this season. Both teams are trying to maintain successful programs after losing big-name coaches. Ohio State lost Jim Tressel before the season started, while the Penn State community is just beginning to come to terms with the firing of Joe Paterno.
On the field, these teams are similar as well. Both feature strong defenses and inconsistent offenses. The Buckeyes have a slight edge on the offensive side of the ball, while the Nittany Lions are slightly better defensively.
Penn State will be faced with yet another running quarterback in Miller. He has 490 rushing yards to go along with his 679 passing yards. The Nittany Lions will be happy to keep Miller in the pocket, as he is completing just 50 percent of his passes.
Ohio State’s rushes for 202 yards per game thanks to Miller and running back Hyde. Hyde has 525 yards this season on 97 carries, good for a 5.4 yards per carry average. To win, Penn State will need to stop the Buckeye running game.
For the first time this season, there is no question as to who will be starting at quarterback for Penn State. Matt McGloin will marshal the offense at Ohio State, where he led several touchdown drives last season before the Buckeyes came back to win 38-14. The Nittany Lions hope to have Silas Redd at full health this week after playing through an injury last week against Nebraska. If Penn State can establish its running game, McGloin might not be under as much pressure as he faced against Nebraska.
With two evenly-matched teams, I think this game comes down to home-field advantage. Since Penn State joined the Big Ten, the home team in this match-up has won 13 out of 18 times. I think this trend holds true as Ohio State wins a defensive battle 17-13.