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Staff Predictions: No. 7 Penn State vs. No. 3 Ohio State

In a clash of the titans, No. 7 Penn State football will travel to Columbus for a Big Noon showdown against the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes. Both teams are undefeated, and this game has significant Big Ten Championship and College Football Playoff implications.

James Franklin’s team is coming off a 63-0 blowout win over UMass, while Ryan Day’s squad whooped Purdue 41-7 the same day. Franklin is just 7-1 against the Buckeyes, and Penn State hasn’t won at Ohio Stadium since 2011.

However, this year feels different. The Nittany Lions have a defense that has been playing lights-out the whole season, and it’s backed by an efficient offense. Meanwhile, there are question marks surrounding Day and the Buckeyes, excluding standout wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. With that being said, most of our staffers believe Penn State will pull off the upset in Columbus on Saturday.

Matt Brown (6-0): Penn State 33, Ohio State 30

Well, folks here it is. It’s the biggest game of the season up to this point for Penn State. Over the past six games of the season, the Nittany Lions have taken care of business starting the season undefeated. Like years past, the Buckeyes are good, they are one of the best teams in the nation, and to be honest, they have Penn State’s number.

Penn State has not beaten Ohio State since the famous block six game back in 2016. Year after year, the Nittany Lions can’t pull out the victory, but finally, this is the year that streak ends. Penn State’s defense is the best in the country and will bend but not break against the outstanding Ohio State offense. I truly feel this game is on Drew Allar and his ability to show the world that he is worth the hype and can lead a team to a National Championship. Allar throws for three touchdowns and Alex Felkins drills the biggest field goal of his career late in the game to upset the Buckeyes. 

Aidan Conrad (6-0): Penn State 34, Ohio State 17

The week that we’ve been waiting for is finally here. Penn State hasn’t won in Columbus since 2011, but there’s a good chance that changes on Saturday. I truly believe the Nittany Lions are the better team, hailing the No. 1 defense in the nation as well as one of the leaders in time of possession. Those two stats alone make me believe in the ability of this team to defeat anybody in the country.

Cooper Cazares (3-0): Penn State 31, Ohio State 24

The time has come. Penn State’s annual duel with Ohio State is upon us. Both are undefeated and are ranked in the top 10 of the AP poll going into week eight.

The Nittany Lions, statistically, have the best defense in the nation. The defensive line alone is enough to rattle any offense. After a defensive showdown in the first quarter, I see a rushing touchdown from Kaytron Allen and three touchdown passes from Drew Allar to seal a win for Penn State.

Based on what I saw from Ohio State’s game against Maryland in week six, they are beatable and Penn State will capitalize. A win here would be massive for playoff and conference championship implications.

Brendan Wagner (6-0): Ohio State 35, Penn State 24

This is Allar and the Nittany Lions’ first true test of the season, and it comes at one of the most rowdy stadiums in the Big Ten. Allar will start out slow in the ‘Shoe, and despite the blue and white making a strong second-half push, an offensive turnover late in the game will hand the Nittany Lions their first loss of the season…yuck.

Brady Miller (6-0): Penn State 24, Ohio State 21

Penn State has lost 10 of its last 11 matchups against Ohio State, but something just feels different about this Nittany Lions’ squad this time around.

Both defenses rank top of the nation and both teams come into the game undefeated with high hopes of a college football playoff berth. It will truly come down to which team wants it more, and I have my money on Penn State edging this one out.

Drew Allar will shine in his first start back in his home state, and the Nittany Lion defense will prove it can hang with the best of the best. Penn State wins this one, but barely.

Rico Gore (6-0): Ohio State 17, Penn State 16

I hope I am wrong. I really do.

However, I still do not think Penn State is beating Ohio State this year. Penn State’s defense is one of, if not the best defense in the country. The offense is still very up in the air for me. Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen are dogs — they are always gaining yards, but neither is really breaking off for big plays. Drew is him — this is his third road start, but I expect him to come out a little slow. He will pick it up, but I still don’t think he has enough experience yet.

I am sorry, folks, but I don’t think this year is the year Penn State does it. Nonetheless, Penn State still covers.

Kyra Birmingham (2-0): Penn State 31, Ohio State 24

It will be a slow start, per Penn State’s first half stats this season, but it will pull through like it has every Saturday so far. The Nittany Lions’ offense under Drew Allar has yet to be challenged, so this will likely be the most exciting game so far this season. Penn State’s defense has repeatedly proved itself, and I look forward to seeing them handle the Buckeyes this Saturday.

Fernando Martinez (3-0): Penn State 24, Ohio State 17

Man, what a showdown this is, and the stakes couldn’t be any higher.

Both programs are eyeing to make the College Football Playoff this year, and whoever wins this game will have a very strong win on their resume. The key to Penn State winning this game is to keep it a low-scoring game and limit Ohio State’s offense. Penn State’s defense can do that, as it has proven to be one of the best defenses in the country this year.

Also, Drew Allar must do what he’s been doing all season: avoid making mistakes. If Penn State can do those two things, it has a great chance to win this game. As for Ohio State, the key for the Buckeyes is for their offense to light up the scoreboard against Penn State’s defense.

This game is so hard to predict. This is Penn State’s best opportunity to finally beat the Buckeyes. My head says Ohio State, but my heart says Penn State. For this game, I’m going to trust my heart and predict that the Nittany Lions will pull off an upset against Ohio State.

Sophia Monteforte (1-0): Penn State 24, Ohio State 21

I think it will be a close matchup that ends with Penn State kicking a game-winning field goal. I think that this is Penn State’s year. It has the talent, the coaches, and the spirit to beat Ohio State. The teams are so neck-and-neck in most stats that I think a lot of people are expecting a Penn State win.

Jamie Lynch (3-0): Penn State 24, Ohio State 17

The time has come, and Penn State’s time is now. For the first time this decade, I believe the Nittany Lions are poised to beat the Buckeyes. Manny Diaz has crafted a powerhouse defense, and I believe that it will be the difference in this game; capitalizing on young Ohio State quarterback Kyle McCord will be key if the Lions want to make a statement in Columbus.

On the offensive side of the ball, it will be interesting to see if James Franklin and Mike Yurcich debut a new section of the playbook on Saturday or if the game plan will remain relatively the same. If there’s one thing that Penn State has been good at against the Buckeyes in the past six years, it’s fourth-quarter collapses. If Drew Allar proves that he is able to play at a high level on the road, look for Penn State to flip the script, emerge on top, and earn its place in the College Football Playoff conversation.

CJ Gill (3-0): Ohio State 20, Penn State 13

Another massive game with massive implications at noon on FOX. The Nittany Lions have not looked their best on the road this season. A combination of that and slow starts in the first half will not be a winning recipe to knock off the Buckeyes.

I expect a defensive battle between both teams and Kyle McCord and Drew Allar to both look shaky at times. A close game goes down to the wire in the fourth quarter but like time after time in the James Franklin era, Penn State comes out on the losing side of one of the biggest games of the year.

Cadyn Gill (1-0): Penn State 38, Ohio State 33

The Nittany Lions will finally beat the Buckeyes in Columbus on Saturday after six straight losses. I think Penn State’s defensive line has the upper hand against the Ohio State offensive line, so I expect it will make Kyle McCord uncomfortable in the pocket and disrupt his rhythm. There’s no easy way to slow down the best receiver in the nation in Marvin Harrison Jr., but getting pressure on the quarterback consistently will keep McCord’s eyes from getting downfield and limit the big play opportunities.

Chop Robinson will need to have a big game for the Nittany Lions, which I think he will, recording not one but two sacks against the Buckeyes. I think Penn State will also take advantage of Ohio State’s secondary. KeAndre Lambert-Smith will get his targets, but Harrison Wallace will be an x-factor in the passing attack for Penn State, and he will get his first touchdown of the year.  It won’t be easy, but if there’s a year that Penn State is built to beat the Buckeyes, it’s this one…

Mitchell Corcoran (3-0): Penn State 23, Ohio State 20

I think Penn State is the better team this year. I also believe this game will be decided in the trenches. Penn State’s defense is second in the country with 27 sacks, while Ohio State’s defense has 10.
This is also not the same Buckeyes’ offensive line after Parris Campbell, Dawand Jones, and Luke Wypler left for the NFL. Quarterback Kyle McCord has been sacked seven times this season — six were in the last two games against Purdue and Maryland. Drew Allar has been sacked four times so far this season.

Ohio State has also been without running backs TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams and wide receiver Emeka Egbuka due to injuries. Last week against Purdue, running back Chip Trayanum and cornerback Denzel Burke went down with injuries as well. With a banged-up Buckeyes team and a vulnerable offensive line protecting a first-year starting quarterback, I like Penn State to win. However, because Drew Allar has not looked great on the road, the lack of explosive plays by the offense, and Ohio State’s tough defense, I think this game stays excruciatingly close and low-scoring.

Nolan Wick (6-0): Penn State 31, Ohio State 28

Buckle up, folks. This is going to be a nail-biter.

Despite what the narrative has been about Ryan Day, his team’s resiliency and toughness are admirable, and it knows how to grind out gritty wins. Notre Dame and Maryland had the Buckeyes right where they wanted them, but both times, Ohio State found ways to win.

However, Penn State is built differently. The defense is the best in America, and the offense finds ways to be efficient even though it’s not the flashiest around. Everyone who was made available to the media this week seems confident, relaxed, and ready, which speaks volumes.

The key to winning this game will be to slam the door to momentum shut on the Buckeyes. If they get that for a prolonged period of time, especially if it’s late in the game, then another win for the scarlet and gray is likely.

However, I trust Penn State’s defense enough to handle its business, including against this Ohio State team with multiple question marks. It’ll be a close game full of ups and downs, but I’m predicting a crucial upset in Columbus.

CJ Doebler (6-0): Penn State 24, Ohio State 20

Before the season started, I put Penn State at 10-2 with losses to Ohio State and Michigan. Halfway through the season, I’m changing that prediction as Penn State has proved it has what it takes to collect a win in Columbus. Sure, the offense isn’t explosive, the passing game is weak, and Drew Allar has been notoriously shaky in his first two road starts, but the defense is plenty good enough to pick up the slack.

Penn State’s defensive line is going up against an offense that has struggled to run the ball all season and has allowed 10 sacks through six games. If the defensive line can get to quarterback Kyle McCord before he can find Marvin Harrison Jr., the Buckeyes offense will be rendered useless. Even if McCord has time to throw, Penn State’s talented secondary will severely limit his options. This is quite possibly the biggest game of James Franklin’s tenure, and I think he finally makes the jump to playoff relevancy this weekend.

Joe Lister (6-0): Penn State 31, Ohio State 28

Screw it. Penn State wins.

I have spent an unhealthy amount of time thinking about this game over the past week. I still have no idea who will win. And frankly, anyone who says that they do know is a liar who should probably be bullied online. Do not bet a penny on this game. Who even knows, man? Can these guys just tie or something?

Keeley Lamm (6-0): Penn State 20, Ohio State 14

I’ll never bet against the Nittany Lions.


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