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Staff Predictions: No. 18 Penn State vs. No. 3 Ohio State

No. 18 Penn State football (0-1) will host No. 3 Ohio State (1-0) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday night in a prime-time matchup on ABC.

The Nittany Lions are coming off a brutal loss to Indiana to open their season and will attempt to rebound against one of the best teams in the country. The Buckeyes, on the other hand, blew out Nebraska 52-17 in their first game of the season.

With Penn State entering as a double-digit underdog, most of our staff believes Ohio State will be too much for it to handle.

Connor Donohue (0-1): Ohio State 48, Penn State 27

I’ve been going through the motions this week on what I think is going to happen this weekend. At the current moment, I’m going with the “expect the worst, pray for the best” approach to the game. I do not think what we saw versus Indiana was an indication of what this team actually is. The fact of the matter is, Penn State had the chance to win that game at the end and suffered yet another mental lapse to lose it. Eliminate the stupid mistakes and against any other team, Penn State would be fine.

The thing is, Ohio State isn’t just any other team. The Buckeyes are the cream of the crop. You need to play a full 60 minutes in order to beat them, and I couldn’t tell you a time Penn State played a full 60 minutes against a good opponent under Franklin. You give me this game with Journey Brown, Micah Parsons, and a true White Out, I would say with confidence Penn State would only lose by a touchdown. Penn State may keep it close at some points, but Ohio State will be too much. I’m praying that I’m wrong because I will legitimately cry if Penn State pulls off the upset, but I’m expecting a terrifying Halloween night.

Frankie Marzano (1-0): Penn State 28, Ohio State 27

“Oh, how the turntables…”

Crazier things have happened in college football. Everyone is already writing Penn State off. The Nittany Lions still feel like they have something to prove after a heartbreaking loss to Indiana last weekend. The best part about losing an early game is that the gut punch is already out of the way. The team already knows what it needs to work on as opposed to finding your weaknesses nine weeks into the season.

On top of all of that, Penn State-Ohio State has produced close games over the past four years. I don’t expect that to change here. Ohio State brings out the best in the Nittany Lions every year, and I have faith that the team will be locked in and shock the world. The Nittany Lions will turn the tables and give the Buckeyes a one-point loss.

Samuel Brungo (0-1): Ohio State 45, Penn State 33

Listen, Penn State is not a bad football team. Last week was just a warmup, and unfortunately, it didn’t work out. I expected Ohio State to win this game before the season and last week’s loss to Indiana didn’t change my opinion.

The Buckeyes are complete at all phases of the game. Not that the Nittany Lions aren’t a complete team, but without Journey Brown and now Noah Cain, their offense just won’t be able to put huge points on the board against Ohio State’s defense. With that said, I expect Penn State to look much sharper than it did last game. They’ll lose the first half, keep it close in the third quarter, and Ohio State will pull away in the final quarter. However, Jake Pinegar will bounce back big and be a perfect 4/4 on field goals.

It should be a fun game to watch, even if it’s from our couches. State by 12… Ohio State that is.

Matt Rudisill (0-1): Ohio State 45, Penn State 20

As far as season openers go, last week was gut-wrenching, to say the least. This week is a new week, however, and it’s time to move on from Indiana.

Many people thought playing Ohio State this early in the season would be too tough a task for this Penn State squad, and I’m inclined to agree. Ohio State is a more complete team in every facet of the game, and I believe that it will prove it against the Nittany Lions this week.

With the loss of Journey Brown and now Noah Cain, the offense still has things to figure out. Ohio State’s defense will cause plenty of problems for that group. Sean Clifford had a bounce-back second half and hopefully, he will continue that momentum against Ohio State.

As far as defense goes, it’s definitely the best aspect of Penn State’s game. Unfortunately, I think Justin Fields and the Ohio State offense will have its way against the Nittany Lions in this matchup. Even so, I believe the defense can prove its worth if they disrupt Fields’ pocket throughout the game.

Maybe spooky season in State College will provide some help to the Nittany Lions, but I’m thinking not. 

Jordan Mansberger (0-0): Ohio State 35, Penn State 20

This might seem pessimistic, but to be frank, I didn’t really see that much from the last game to be optimistic about. Justin Fields is far and away the best player in this game and I don’t think Penn State can contain him for four quarters. Penn State won’t be able to possess the ball as well as it would like with its run game already getting more limited with the injury to Noah Cain.

Owen Abbey (0-1): Ohio State 42, Penn State 17

I don’t know what the deal is with Penn State football, but something didn’t look right last week. Some, like Sean Clifford’s first-half play, I’ll chalk up to rust and jitters. What I’m concerned with are mistakes and defensive question marks.

Special teams mistakes haunted the Nittany Lions against Indiana, and those blunders ended up being the difference in the game. Going up against Ohio State, those errors simply can’t happen. As for the defense, I’m still worried. We saw Shaka Toney be a beast and Joey Porter Jr. show a lot of potential, but the Buckeyes’ offense is going to tear this team apart if it plays like it did last week. Someone needs to step into Jesse Luketa’s shoes since he won’t be on the field during the first half due to his targeting penalty. The secondary also has to be better in a multitude of ways, including limiting mistakes and staying with their guys.

Overall, Ohio State is the better team. The gap between the Buckeyes and the Nittany Lions is huge. It would have been a challenge to win this game even if the Nittany Lions were firing on all cylinders. Unfortunately, they aren’t, and James Franklin will have a lot of work to do as they head into their next game.

Connor Krause (0-1): Penn State 28, Ohio State 24

Four words: Bring. Your. Own. Juice. After being disrespected by the national media, coupled with being a heavy underdogs at home, the hungry Nittany Lions will right the ship in upset fashion against the Buckeyes.

After needing a week to shake the offseason rust against Indiana, Sean Clifford will be ready to roll against Ohio State’s defense. Clifford will need to rely heavily on his legs once again, which proved to be pivotal in last week’s comeback effort. By using last week’s uncharacteristic turnovers as a learning experience, expect Clifford to manage the game by transforming Kirk Ciarrocca’s dominance in the time of possession category into consistent red zone conversions.

The absence of Noah Cain hurts, but the new three-headed monster in the backfield between Devyn Ford, Keyvone Lee, and Caziah Holmes will give the Buckeyes a combination of unforeseen strength and finesse. The utilization of three capable backs will help relieve the stress of Clifford and his young receiving corps.

Penn State’s edge rushers, Shaka Toney and Jayson Oweh, will pose Ohio State’s young tackles with difficulties. If the Nittany Lions can pressure Justin Fields and move him out of the pocket, Joey Porter Jr. and Tariq Castro-Fields should be able to stick with one of the Big Ten’s most electric receiving cores.

Last week, Penn State did everything wrong to lose against Indiana. This week, the Nittany Lions will capitalize by winning the turnover, penalty, and explosive play battles against the heavy favorites to be right back in the driver’s seat for a spot in the College Football Playoff.

Gabe Angieri (0-1): Ohio State 34, Penn State 24

After losing a heartbreaker to open its season, Penn State gets its toughest game of the season the following week. Penn State is a good team, but Ohio State is a powerhouse, folks. Even without last week’s loss to Indiana, the Nittany Lions were always expected to be an underdog against the No. 3 Buckeyes.

I expect Penn State to keep it a bit closer than a lot of people think, as Brent Pry’s defense will play a solid game of football. However, Justin Fields is one of the best players in the country, and it’s naive to think Penn State’s defense will be able to shut him down.

The offense will struggle on the ground without Noah Cain and ultimately be inconsistent throughout the game. Sean Clifford will make some plays, but a few turnovers from the offense will be too much for the Nittany Lions to overcome. Ohio State will score a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to put this game out of reach.

Will Pegler (0-1): Ohio State 30, Penn State 21

Ohio State lost a lot of talent to the NFL this past offseason, but just like every other year, the Buckeyes have reloaded at essentially every position. With that in mind, the Nittany Lions are going to struggle to keep up Saturday night.

Justin Fields remains to be a force at quarterback, while he’s got plenty of weapons to work with on the offensive side of the ball, including Chris Olave and Garret Wilson. On top of the problems Penn State will likely have on defense, the Nittany Lions had serious issues with turnovers and penalties against the Hoosiers last week. While I expect a lot of those issues to get fixed, don’t be surprised if some of them continue to show up after just a week of practice and one of the best teams in college football coming to town.

Penn State is not a bad team, however, and I don’t expect it to play like one Saturday night. Sean Clifford and the offense will do enough to hang with the Buckeyes for much of the game, but Ohio State is too good not to pull away with multiple big scores in the fourth quarter.

Ryan Parsons (0-1): Penn State 34, Ohio State 31

Why the hell not? It’s 2020, anything can happen. Just like how Penn State shocked Nittany nation by dropping its first game to Indiana, I believe it’ll flip the script and beat Ohio State on Saturday.

The Nittany Lions were oh-so-close to looking like a great team against Indiana. Penn State outgained the Hoosiers 488-211 and were just a few dumb mistakes and questionable calls away from winning decisively. I think the Nittany Lions will bang the rust off and put together a solid, season-winning performance against the Buckeyes.

Sean Clifford and the offense started really clicking in the second half, pulling off explosive passing plays and running the ball well without Journey Brown and Noah Cain. Although the timetable for the offense to fix its turnover woes is definitely short, I think the underdog mentality will make things click.

Jayson Oweh, Shaka Toney, and the rest of the defense gave Indiana trouble mostly all night. Penn State made some big stops, created takeaways, and constantly got to the passer. If the Wild Dogs can get in Justin Fields’ head, why can’t they win this game?

Matt DiSanto (0-1): Ohio State 41, Penn State 17

Look, Ohio State will beat the snot out of Penn State this week. Sure, there’s reason to be optimistic. But the Buckeyes remain stacked at every position and have had the Nittany Lions’ number for as long as I’ve been a fan (read: not that long, but long enough).

Penn State didn’t inspire much confidence against an unranked Indiana team last weekend, and to think it’ll suddenly spring to life and challenge the No. 3 team in the country feels like a fool’s errand. I’m looking forward to that Maryland beatdown next weekend, though.

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