Staff Predictions: No. 2 Penn State vs. No. 6 Ohio State
Thousands of Nittany Lions will migrate to Columbus this weekend for what promises to be the biggest regular season matchup in years. College GameDay will cover Penn State football for the second consecutive week and Ohio State’s student section is planning to #BlackOutTheShoe for the first time since Penn State’s 2015 trip to the Horseshoe.
The Buckeyes are favored in most polls, but our staff sees the Nittany Lions pulling out a close win in Columbus this weekend. Oh, except Mikey. But we all know how that worked out for him last time.
Ethan Kasales (7-0): Penn State 38, Ohio State 34
I see Trace McSorley orchestrating another spectacular last-minute touchdown drive to give the Nittany Lions their marquee win of the season. Saquon Barkley may not surpass the 194 rushing yards he racked up in Columbus as a freshman in 2015, but he should be good for two or more scores in a crucial game for his Heisman campaign.
Elissa Hill (7-0): Penn State 24, Ohio State 21
Wowza. I can barely handle the hype surrounding this game, and as I’m typing this I’m leaving for Columbus in six hours. Honestly I don’t even know what to say about this game. There’s a lot riding here, both for playoffs and Heisman hopes. But you probably already knew that. So here’s my measly prediction — one team will win and one team will lose. Oh, and we’re all going to have a hell of a lot of fun.
Anthony Colucci (7-0): Penn State 23, Ohio State 17
We have an all-time classic on our hands, folks. Saturday is a winnable game for both teams, but if Penn State tightens up on defense and holds up on the offensive line and Trace McSorley has a good day, the Nittany Lions will have the upper hand. A back and forth contest will end with a game-winning touchdown run from Saquon Barkley to make the Nittany Lions 8-0 and bolster their College Football Playoff resume.
Mikey Mandarino (6-1): Penn State 28, Ohio State 31
This weekend’s game at the Horseshoe is perhaps the Lions’ biggest regular season game since 2008, when they took down Ohio State 13-6 under the lights. Although Penn State is the higher-ranked squad heading into this weekend, I cannot see them escaping Ohio Stadium with a victory. Urban Meyer has lost just seven games during his tenure as Ohio State head coach and J.T. Barrett has been excellent so far this season. I think the senior quarterback will find ways to beat Penn State’s otherwise-tremendous defense; his 21 touchdowns compared to one interception through his first seven games are impressive. Regardless of the result, this will be a game for the ages and should be really fun to watch.
Nathaniel Pinskey (5-0): Penn State 31, Ohio State 30
Penn State had a statement win last week against Michigan’s number one ranked defense. That game was exactly what the team needed to go into the Horseshoe with the confidence to beat a much improved Ohio State team from the beginning of the season. The offensive line took a big step last week and I think they will continue to look good against a dominant Ohio State defensive line. If the defense can limit twelve-year veteran JT Barrett and JK Dobbins, I think Penn State can squeak out of this game with the win and Saquon can close out the Heisman race.
Matt Fox (5-0): Penn State 31, Ohio State 21
This is it. This is the game everybody has been waiting for all season. Penn State comes in fresh from its demolition of Michigan and its former No. 1 ranked defense, while Ohio State enjoyed a week off to rest up and prepare for the Nittany Lions. It’s one thing for the Buckeyes to run up the score against the likes of Rutgers, UNLV, Maryland, and Nebraska. It’s a completely different ball game against this Penn State defense.
Look for Brent Pry’s group to load up against the run and force Ohio State to beat them through the air, a task I don’t think Barrett is capable of achieving against the stingy Nittany Lion secondary. The Buckeye defense is also in a pick its poison scenario. They either load up to take away Saquon Barkley and expose themselves to Trace McSorley and the talented Penn State receiving corps, or they defend the pass and allow Barkley to run riot. The Nittany Lions haven’t won at the Horseshoe since 2011, so it’s about time for them to win there again.