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Consistency & Preparation Key For Penn State Football Ahead Of Ohio State Bout

It’s been nearly a year since Penn State football lost a game.

That loss, as with the many others that have come at the hands of Ohio State, was a particularly brutal one. A fourth-quarter letdown gave the Buckeyes a crucial 44-31 win going into the back stretch of their season, one that ended in the first round of the College Football Playoff.

For some players in the Penn State locker room, Ohio State is just another game on the schedule. A game against the Buckeyes is as much a chance to go 1-0 as a game against UMass was. Never mind that Ohio State is one of the best teams in FBS and the UMass is considered one of the worst.

James Franklin, despite his historical struggles against Ohio State, seemed chipper at a Wednesday media availability going into this year’s matchup. Some of that confidence seems to have rubbed off on his players.

“We don’t have to do more than what we did these past six weeks,” defensive end Chop Robinson said Wednesday. “We’re well prepared.”

Against Ohio State last year, Robinson recorded one solo tackle.

Robinson’s confidence could be a sign of comfort for some Penn State fans. Thanks to an impressive first half of the season, Robinson has established himself as one of the best pass-rushers in college football. In six games, the Maryland transfer has registered three sacks, broken up a pass, and forced a fumble. That success isn’t supposed to slow down Saturday.

Whether or not Penn State has to do more against Ohio State this week as opposed to previous opponents isn’t the question, though. The question is whether Penn State has to do more against Ohio State this year than in previous years. There’s an easier answer to that question.

Linebacker Curtis Jacobs said he feels that this year’s Penn State group is better prepared for what lies ahead of it than last year’s group. But even Jacobs, who acknowledged last year’s struggles at Beaver Stadium, said that Ohio State is just one more game along the journey of a 12-game season.

Against Ohio State last year, Jacobs totaled three tackles.

“I think the only difference is we’re just more mature and how we’re approaching it,” Curtis said Wednesday about the difference between preparation in 2022 and 2023. “I feel like guys really bought into the system this offseason, and it’s really showing through the first six games. We just have to keep that rolling through the next six.”

Jacobs, like many of the players available Wednesday, sounded confident. They have reason to be. A group that said it was the country’s best defense in the preseason followed up on those claims, putting up some of the best numbers in college football.

As good as the group said it was in the preseason, players said that it’s only gotten better. Week by week, the Nittany Lions are settling into a groove and improving.

“We can’t wait for Saturday,” running back Nick Singleton said. “But you just have to take one game at a time, just get better every day.”

Against Ohio State last year, Singleton rushed for 45 yards on 14 carries and caught one pass for six yards.

Penn State isn’t favored to win in Ohio. Vegas has the game pinned with the Buckeyes favored by 5.5 points, though that number has fluctuated as the week has gone on. With a game picked to finish so close, and with two powerhouse teams facing off in what could be a must-win game, the score could go either way.

But with the game close at hand, Jacobs said that all the team has to do is check a few more boxes before it walks into Ohio Stadium. A win in Ohio could be nothing more than finding consistency.

“We just have to cross every T, dot every I, and be as prepared as we can when we get on that plane,” Jacobs said. “And I feel like that’d be the determining factor.”

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About the Author

Joe Lister

Joe is a junior journalism major at Penn State and an associate editor at Onward State. He covers Penn State football and enjoys yelling on Twitter about Philadelphia/Penn State sports. He also listens to Mac Miller more than you. If you want to find him, Joe's usually watching soccer with his shirt off or at the gym with his shirt on. Please send all positive affirmations and/or hate mail toward him on Twitter (iamjoelister) or via email ([email protected]).

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