Staff Predictions: No. 9 Penn State vs. No. 4 Ohio State
No. 9 Penn State football will play a game against a ranked opponent for the first time this season, and boy, is it a doozy.
No. 4 Ohio State will come to Happy Valley for the biggest game of the season at Beaver Stadium. This is the Nittany Lions’ toughest test of the season, but our staff is mostly confident that they’ll pull out another victory under White Out conditions.
Matt DiSanto (1-0): Penn State 31, Ohio State 28
I think this game might be a little too close for comfort. Ohio State is coming to State College packing a strong offense and powerful defense, but I’m going to give Penn State the slight edge in this game due to its offensive prowess. The Nittany Lions will also catch a big break with Ohio State DE Nick Bosa sitting out due to a recent surgery. They’ll have to control Ohio State’s offense in the first half, though, if they want to have a shot at winning. Penn State can’t afford to be a second-half team this week. Either way, this will be some of the best football Happy Valley has seen in years.
Will Pegler (1-0): Penn State 45, Ohio State 42
This is not going to be your average Big Ten “three yards and a cloud of dust” type of game. Expect plenty of points on both sides with the two top offenses in the nation squaring off. Trace McSorley and Miles Sanders proved a dynamic duo coming out of the backfield last Friday against Illinois, combing for 292 yards on the ground. These two should be able to take full advantage of a Buckeye defensive line playing without star Nick Bosa.
I wouldn’t be surprised if first-year starter Dwayne Haskins has a turnover or two early on in the game, as the White Out is one of the most challenging atmospheres for a rookie quarterback. Expect the Buckeye offense to find success and keep on pace with the Nittany Lion attack throughout the game. All of these offensive fireworks will lead to a last second field goal opportunity for Jake Pinegar, which he will obviously put straight through the uprights.
Michael Kresovich (0-0): Penn State 31, Ohio State 45
Special teams will play a crucial role in this game. Marcus Allen’s blocked field goal and Ohio State’s blocked punt in last year’s game in Columbus were crucial plays in each of the past two meetings between the Nittany Lions and Buckeyes. Dwayne Haskins likes to sit behind his very talented offensive line and tear apart defenses through the air. Both offenses are explosive, but the teams’ defenses are sketchy in some areas.
To win this game, the Nittany Lions must get to Haskins and force the inexperienced quarterback to commit turnovers, much like they did to JT Barrett back in 2016. Trace McSorley will have himself a game; he thrives in situations like this. Still, I don’t think it will be enough for a Penn State victory.
Derek Bannister (4-0): Penn State 38, Ohio State 28
I’ll admit that before I looked closely at the Ohio State performances this season, I really did not think Penn State could pull out a “W” here. The Buckeyes have a whole lot to prove, though. They opened the season by giving up 31 points to a very bad Oregon State team that put up just 14 points against Arizona. They destroyed a Rutgers team that was blown out 42-13 by Buffalo — congrats. Meyer’s team also took down TCU, a team that lost to Texas after the Longhorns lost to Maryland.
The Ohio State front four is great, and the rest of the defense has actually been pretty bad. Haskins can throw the ball as well as anyone, but he doesn’t have the same rushing ability that JT Barrett torched the Nittany Lions with in the past. Miles Sanders will run wild and the White Out crowd is going to be too much for a relatively inexperienced Ohio State quarterback.
Matthew Fox (4-0): Penn State 41, Ohio State 30
I wasn’t really that confident in Penn State’s ability to pull this one out at first. The passing game hasn’t yet hit top gear and the defense has had its issues, but Ohio State has problems of its own to work out. The Buckeyes’ defense has been just as porous as Penn State’s so far this season, giving up 31 points against lowly Oregon State in week one, and then were gashed for over 500 yards of offense by TCU in week 3. The Horned Frogs were bottled up the following week by a Texas team that lost to Maryland in week one. Both teams still have kinks that need to ironed out. Because of that, I’m going to roll with the experienced McSorley leading the way as the White Out atmosphere disrupts the Ohio State offense just enough to make the difference.
Brian Bachman (2-0): Penn State 38, Ohio State 34
I think this game will come down to Penn State’s ability to pressure Dwayne Haskins. Not quite the improviser that his predecessor was, Haskins is at his best with a clean pocket when he can pick apart a defense. He has never been tested with a true big-time road match-up, as the Buckeyes’ game with TCU was played at a neutral site. Alongside the suffocating 110,000 people in white, I could see the young quarterback making some mistakes if the Wild Dogs are able to get pressure and make him uncomfortable in big moments.
Trace McSorley’s offense should be able to move the ball well, as the Buckeyes’ back seven is the weakest part of the roster. I expect a shootout that will come down to the final minutes, where the deciding factor will be McSorley’s experience and clutch-gene. Rule No. 1: Never bet against Trace in Beaver Stadium.
Mikey Mandarino (4-0): Penn State 17, Ohio State 14
I expect Saturday’s game to be a very low-scoring contest. Trace McSorley will have another strong game, but the Buckeyes’ front seven may keep Miles Sanders in check — even with Nick Bosa out of the lineup due to injury. Penn State’s front seven has to get to Dwayne Haskins to have a chance in the game, but I think Yetur Gross-Matos, Kevin Givens, and Shareef Miller are talented enough on the defensive line to make it happen and disrupt the first-year starter’s rhythm. If those players can’t do that, Amani Oruwariye, Nick Scott, Garrett Taylor, and Tariq Castro-Fields must step up and make plays in the secondary.
Austin Smith (2-0): Penn State 35, Ohio State 28
It seems like Penn State’s found its groove after a concerning start to the season. The defense is still a little shaky, but I believe it will feed off the crowd’s energy to turn in a better performance than expected. All the talk going into Saturday is the matchup between the two powerhouse offenses, and rightfully so. But when the game comes down to the wire, Ohio State won’t be able to handle the Beaver Stadium atmosphere. The key to this one will be how Penn State’s receivers play. If they can exploit the Buckeye secondary and avoid drops, the Nittany Lions should be able to pick up a signature home victory.
Ethan Kasales (4-0): Penn State 38, Ohio State 41
Dwayne Haskins is playing his way into the Heisman conversation and will likely continue to do so Saturday despite the raucous environment. This game could come down to another blocked punt or special teams touchdown.
Anthony Fiset (3-0): Penn State 44, Ohio State 38
Get ready for some touchdowns, folks. The two highest scoring offenses in the nation are about to meet at Beaver Stadium in White Out conditions. This year’s installment of Penn State vs. Ohio State boils down to Dwayne Haskins’ ability to keep his cool in the face of the most raucous environment in college football — not an inherent trait in first year starters. In spite of the White Out, Haskins should still be able to rack up points, but I think the Wild Dogs will step up when it matters most.
The Nittany Lion offense will be cooking with gas as always, even if it has to play some catch up with the Buckeyes in the first half. Miles Sanders and Ricky Slade will put on their usual clinic on running the football. And surely, Trace McSorley will put on his White Out grand finale in
the second his half, but the real headline maker this week will be Blake Gillikin. The punter will rise to the occasion and pin the Buckeyes deep. The defense will be able to cash in on one of the great looks Gillikin gifts them for a big time safety. Bag secured.
Elissa Hill (4-0) Penn State 50 Ohio State 0
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