Staff Predictions: Penn State vs. Ohio State
Another Friday brings about another round of picks. Staff predictions is ready for the biggest Penn State Football game at Beaver Stadium in quite some time as the Penn State Nittany Lions (5-2, 3-0) will play host to the undefeated, ninth ranked Ohio State Buckeyes (8-0, 4-0) in a Leaders Division clash. Let’s see what our writers are thinking:
Ohio State 30 Penn State 27
I would be lying to you if I said that I had a great feel for this game. Earlier in the week on an ESPNU segment, I went with the Buckeyes in a one possession game, and I am sticking with that. There are a lot of reasons to suggest the Nittany Lions could win this game, and I would not be very surprised if they did. They have looked like the better team over the past month, dominating most opponents in their path while the Buckeyes surrendered 49 points to a terrible Indiana team and hardly escaped a home game against Purdue. Luke Fickell’s defense has been a mess, giving up 31.3 points per contest in Big Ten play.
The Buckeyes shaky defense and inability to defend the screen pass should lead to big days for Bill Belton and Kyle Carter. I expect there to be a few lead changes along the way, but the Buckeyes are still undefeated for a reason. They have won four games by seven points or less, and I think they pull out another close one here. Better special teams and one big play from Braxton Miller gets it done in the fourth quarter for the visitors in a game that is much closer than most expected at the start of the season.
Penn State 21 Ohio State 20
This game scares me a bit (a lot), mainly due to the scarring that other “whitehouses” have caused. But this team is remarkably different and so incredibly driven, I know they will be in the game come the fourth quarter. The key for the Nittany Lions is obviously limiting Brazton Miller’s production. Miller will get his yards, both on the ground and through the air, but Penn State cannot afford to give up big plays. I think the linebackers continue their Big Ten domination and hold Ohio State to 20 points, which is damn good considering the Buckeyes are averaging 39 a game. The offense will start fast as always. How they finish will determine the outcome of the game.
Ohio State 27 Penn State 20
Maybe I’m just cynical after years of crushing defeats at Beaver Stadium for buildup games like this. I know — the past matters very little with these new Lions, but the last three years of Whiteouts are still fresh in my mind. Aside from the first two games, Penn State has played great football — there’s no doubt about it. But so has Ohio State, and there’s no arguing that their schedule has been more difficult, with wins against Michigan State and Nebraska to their credit. Honestly, to definitively declare a winner for this game would be unwise, and I essentially view it as a coin flip. If Braxton Miller is healthy, I think Ohio State pulls this one out. But I would not bet a single dollar on it.
Penn State 28 Ohio State 25
I am not worried as much about the defense — the front seven has been dominant and the secondary is athletic enough overall to contain Urban Meyer’s option attack. I just get the feeling that Matt McGloin will make his first big mistake(s) of the season. It seemed to me that McGloin took more shots downfield against Iowa than in any other game this year — something I am not quite comfortable with him doing. It is not hard to imagine a bomb (or in McGloin’s case, a baby toss) into double coverage being picked off.
If the offense stays efficient and avoids mistakes, though, I can see Penn State taking the early lead, with Ohio State scoring a late touchdown and 2-point conversion in a failed comeback attempt.
Ohio State 27 Penn State 24
I am torn with this pick. Penn State is riding high and has all the momentum in what is sure to be an incredible whiteout crowd in their corner. But I think Penn State fans should really be worried about the special teams battle in this game. Ohio State has already blocked 6 kicks this season and returned 2 kicks for touchdowns. Penn State’s special teams play has been the team’s glaring weakness to this point. It would not surprise me in the least to see the Buckeyes score a touchdown on special teams.
While Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller is banged up, he is still extremely dangerous both on the ground and through the air. If Penn State can defend deep throws to speedy receivers Corey “Philly” Brown and Devin Smith and long Miller scrambles, they will keep the offense within striking distance.
For Penn State’s offense, red zone efficiency will be key, especially with the general ineffectiveness of kicker Sam Ficken. Ultimately, I think Penn State will come up just short. I hope I am wrong.
Penn State 31 Ohio State 24
Contain, contain, contain! It is what the Nittany Lions’ defense is going to need to do to get a win. Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller is a run-first quarterback. He leads the Buckeyes in rushing averaging 119 per game. However, shutting down a mobile quarterback has not been a problem for the Penn State defense in recent years. Miller is going to have to win this game with his arm. With his top target, wide receiver Devin Smith, too inconsistent I do not see that happening.
Moving the ball should not be a struggle for the Lions. Ohio State’s defense has struggled lately and has lost a few key players to injury, most notably at linebacker. This has the potential to create a mismatch nightmare with Penn State’s playmaker tight ends. Look for Kyle Carter and Matt Lehman to wreak havoc on the Ohio State defense. Penn State will also need to control the clock. Miller always has big play potential no matter what defense he faces so limiting his time on the field will be critical to the Lions success. Do not expect as up tempo of an offense as last week, unless Ohio State wants to bring pressure.
Ohio State 27 Penn State 24
Braxton Miller’s health is up in the air regardless of the message coming out of Columbus, and a hungry Nittany Lions defense should contain him a good bit. But to do so for an entire evening will be tough, and a late Miller led drive puts the Buckeyes ahead for good to negate a pair of Matt McGloin touchdown passes.
Nate “Ni” Lyon
Ohio State catches the snitch but Penn State wins!
People will wear white; people will wear red. A few confused people will wear pink. Some will wear costumes, but others will wear uniforms. Those people will run back and forth on the field, while everyone else cheers. A good time will be had by all, except the losers.