Penn State, 5-1, travels to No. 1 Ohio State this weekend. We all know the exposition for this game: Ohio State won the National Championship last year after controversially sneaking by the Nittany Lions in Beaver Stadium. The Buckeyes are undefeated entering this game, this time at the Horseshoe.
Unfortunately, discounting the staff optimists, we also mostly think we know how this game is going to go: a decisive win for the country’s alleged best team.
Ben Rappaport (season record 3-1): Ohio State 31, Penn State 17
This game is going to be hell to watch. Either it will be a complete Ohio State blow out or a nail biter. The No. 1 team in the country will come out firing and although this Penn State team is very talented, I can’t see James Franklin and Co. pulling out the victory. With a relatively easy stretch of games, Penn State fans have a skewed perception of their team.
Sure, the play-calling has gotten better and the running back situation will be a bit a healthier, it still doesn’t fix the problems the offensive line has had against quality pass rushes. And the Buckeyes certainly have a quality pass rush. Led by Joey Bosa, the Ohio State defensive line is full of talent and despite having its holes, it generally holds up well against pocket passing quarterbacks. Although the Buckeyes haven’t had to face anyone as talented as Hackenberg so far this season, the offenses that have caused them the most trouble have been dual-threat quarterbacks that excel more on the ground than the air. With that being said, the game could quickly change if Saquon Barkley is back to being his electrifying self. If Penn State wants to keep it close and possibly win, it will have to contain Ezekiel Elliott while really hitting the Buckeyes hard with its own rushing attack. It’ll be up to Austin Johnson, Carl Nassib, and the one and only Anthony Zettel, to have stand-out performances to put the pressure on the Buckeyes. In the end, I don’t think it will be enough, although I really, really, hope it is.
Cade Reed (season record 3-0): Penn State 24, Ohio State 20
There’s going to be a party in Happy Valley on Saturday night. All signs point to the Nittany Lions stealing their first victory against tOSU and their first victory in Columbus since 2011 this week. In what I predict to be a battle of two of the country’s best defenses, I think Penn State will emerge victorious.
If anyone can stop Ezekiel Elliott, it’s going to be a defensive line consisting of Anthony Zettel, Austin Johnson, and Carl Nassib. If Penn State can stop Ohio State’s run game from developing early, it will place a lot of pressure on the struggling Cardale Jones. While Penn State’s offense hasn’t been stellar this year, Christian Hackenberg and Co. are coming off a breakout performance against Indiana last week. Saquon Barkley looks to come back and show off his skills against Penn State’s first real opponent of the season.
We knew Penn State would lose one bad game this season, and it happened to be Temple. Penn State won’t enter The Shoe undefeated like some predicted, but the fire is there for the good guys to pull one out on primetime national television. Penn State will wear its clean white uniforms against the villains in black and I think, the boys from Happy Valley will end the run of the reigning National Champions on their own turf.
Kaitlyn Dividock (season record 5-0): Ohio State 35, Penn State 17
God, I want to believe in the Nittany Lions. My blue and white stained heart wants nothing more than a rough, tough, and gritty upset at The Shoe more than I can accurately put into words. But the more I feed that obvious fantasy, the more my gut wants to knock some sense into me.
This rivalry is huge for the Big Ten. That’s right, Buckeye fans! I said rivalry
. This game has been anxiously awaited all year, and with the reveal of Ohio State’s new black-out uni’s
and a slated prime time kickoff, there’s no denying it anymore. Get over it, Ohio State.
What Penn State needs to do to shake the confidence of this strong Ohio State team is really quite simple. Franklin must lead his powerful defense to another chaotic game that causes turnovers and pounds the living hell out of Ezekiel Elliott. Christian Hackenberg has to be absolutely flawless and throw for 400 yards. And finally, Saqoun Barkley needs to start and record a few touchdowns, because Penn State has no chance without him. The Buckeyes have so much talent on both sides of the ball, so to beat them, Penn State just has to be perfect. No big deal, right? The Nittany Lions will show promise in the first half, but Ohio State’s unrelenting talent will carry it to a home victory.
Ben Berkman (season record 5-1): Ohio State 23, Penn State 17
With difficult games to predict, it’s best to turn to the laws of math for some help. One of those laws is the transitive property of equality. If a equals b and b equals c, then a equals c. And if a is greater than b, and b is greater than c, then a must be greater than c. Applied to Penn State’s chances against No. 1 Ohio State this weekend, because the Nittany Lions beat Indiana by 22 points (27-9), and the Buckeyes beat the Hoosiers by only 7 (34-27), it’s obvious that Penn State will emerge victorious by 15 points (22 minus 7).
But because it’s an unwritten rule that playing at home tilts the spread by about a touchdown, some adjustments are needed. Subtract that added touchdown, the Lions beat Indiana by only 15, and the Buckeyes (playing on the road) really won by 14. Therefore, my (un)mathematical conclusions suggest Penn State should win by one point Saturday in the Horseshoe.
But wait! Because Penn State travels to Ohio State, we can add one more touchdown in the enemy’s favor. When it’s all said and done, the Buckeyes will squeak past the Lions by six points.
Doug Leeson (season record 4-2): Ohio State 31, Penn State 21
Penn State actually is the better team in a couple of different matchups — not necessarily head-to-head, but individually. Hackenberg is better than Jones. Barkley is, based on a tiny sample size, better than Elliott. Nassib is better than Bosa. But, most importantly, Urban Meyer is better than James Franklin. Penn State will score a decent amount of points, maybe even first, but the difference between these teams is depth and coaching. Penn State has statistically gone cold in the second half, especially the third quarter. Ohio State scores more and more as the game goes on. The Buckeyes will wear down the Nittany Lions, so the only way this is a win for the good guys is if they score enough in the first half to make a comeback impossible. Sorry, won’t happen. See you in Baltimore next weekend to become bowl-eligible.