Game Preview: Ohio State vs Penn State

Every year, you can circle the Ohio State vs Penn State game as a must watch matchup not just for the Big Ten landscape, but also the national landscape in the age of the four team playoff. In the past, this game has come down to within a touchdown, and Ohio State won by 1 point in both the epic comeback in 2017, and the 2018 game. To get a feel on how the Buckeyes are preparing for this one, look no further than this week’s hype trailer:


For the second straight week, the Buckeyes will be the marquee matchup for FOX’s Big Noon Kickoff, and this is the sixth straight year that both teams are ranking in the AP top 25. 

For Ohio State, this win will be important because a win on the road against a currently ranked team will help boost their resume, and give them a great position for the initial rankings for the College Football playoff which comes out on November 1st at 7pm. As a small plug, Buckeye50 will release our own playoff rankings which you can track here. A win for the Buckeyes will also help them with their path to the Big Ten Championship with just The Game standing in their way. 

For Penn State, a win this week will help keep their Big Ten Championship Game chances alive, but would need some help and hope there isn’t a tie-breaker situation when it comes to who represents the East. They were blown out 41-17 against Michigan two weeks ago, but coming off of a high after a rebound win against Minnesota in their annual White-Out game. 

Know the Opponent:

Head Coach: James Franklin (9th season)
2022 Record: 6-1
Location: Happy Valley, PA
Conference: Big Ten

Ohio State Preview

Ohio State has continued to be one of, if not the, most impressive team in the country to date. Their closest win was an 11 point win against Notre Dame in Week 1, and have won every single game by double digits. In Big Ten play, they have won every single game by an average of nearly 36 points. Last week against Iowa was one of their worst offensive performances, which opened the door for Tennessee to take the top spot for a week, but the challenge of the Nittany Lion defense should not be as tough for the Buckeye run game. To be fair, Ohio State just needs to play up to their standard because there is not a team in the conference that can match up talent-wise to them. 

CJ Stroud leads the country in touchdown passes with 28, and leads the country in QBR. He has thrown an interception in the last 4 games, where he threw 6 total for 2021, and this secondary for Penn State will be his toughest challenge to date. He has thrown for 2023 yards and still completing at a 70% completion rate. 

At running back, the dynamic duo did not match their normal production, which was a credit to Iowa’s efficiency and intention to stop the run. Miyan Williams leads the running backs with 516 yards and 9 touchdowns of 74 carries. TreVeyon Henderson is second on the team with 80 rushes for 474 yards and 4 touchdowns. Dallan Hayden is third with 54 carries for 255 yards and a touchdown. One of the more surprising moves on the team which we might see him play in more of the rotation is Chip Trayanum who moved from linebacker back to running back, where he played in that position with Arizona State. 

At receiver, Emeka Egbuka is still averaging 100 yards a game with 735 yards on 41 catches with 7 touchdowns. Marvin Harrison Jr is second on the team with 38 catches for 598 yards and 10 touchdowns. Julian Fleming, who was the top receiver prospect from Pennsylvania, is now 3rd on the team with 17 catches for 327 yards and 6 touchdowns. He has caught a touchdown in every single game he has played in since coming back. Cade Stover continues to be utilized as a target, but has seen some drop off in the last few games, but still has 18 catches for 231 yards and 2 touchdowns. 

Penn State Preview

Penn State has had as successful as a season up to this point sitting at 6-1, with their lone loss against Michigan on the road where they could not stop the run, and a game that was a 1 point difference at halftime. They opened up the season on the road against Purdue, and one a close one 35-31 thanks to being able to create turnovers against Aiden O’Connell. They then blew out Ohio, Auburn on the road, and Central Michigan. They were held to a close game against Northwestern, before losing to Michigan, but bounced back in what was Sean Cliffords best game one the season against Minnesota. Ince 2016, Penn State has not made it back to the Big Ten Championship game, and will need help to try and make it back this year.

They have normally played Ohio State close since James Franklin took over, and his recruiting has kept a lot of talent in the skill positions, but his offensive and defensive line are not playing to their normal standard. To win this game, they will need to limit the possessions for Ohio State, and try to create some touchdowns on defense or special teams.

Sean Clifford is back for his 6th season with the Nittany Lions, and has passed for 1445 yards with 13 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He is completing 61.5% of his passes, and also has made plays with his legs with 41 yards on 32 rushes and 4 touchdowns. He is the third leading rusher for this Penn State team. There is a lot of buzz about Drew Allar, who is an Ohio product, but went to Penn State and was the best prospect in the country in 2022. He might play in this game if Sean Clifford is not able to move the offense against this Buckeye defense.

Freshman Nick Singleton leads the team with 82 carries for 561 yards and 7 touchdowns. Penn State also uses a two back system and Kaytron Allen is the second leading rusher with 78 carries for 396 yard with 4 touchdowns. He has been used more in short yardage situations in the redzone.

On the receiving side, Parker Washington is the led pass catcher with 30 catches for 388 yards and 1 touchdowns. Mitchell Tinsley is the second leading catcher with 28 catches for 340 yards and 4 touchdowns. Brenton Strange is the third leading receiver at tight-end with 17 catches for 245 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Buckeye Spotlight

CJ Stroud. Stroud is now playing 2 seasons at the same time, and this will be the best test against a very good secondary to date. The first season is the main season, a top 15 win on the road would be a good resume booster for the Buckeyes who have had unfortunately not gotten help from their previous opponents. The second season is the Heisman season. Although Stroud is the betting favorite, the race ultimately comes down to Stroud and Hendon Hooker. If Ohio State wins, and Stroud puts up great numbers, he will keep his hold at the top for now, and gets another chance against Michigan on November 26th. 

Nittany Lion Spotlight

Penn State Secondary. The Buckeyes passing offense is their most lethal attack under Ryan Day’s offensive scheme, and the secondary is a legitimate challenge for the wide-receivers, and Joey Porter Jr might be their best defensive back who most likely will match up against Marvin Harrison Jr. Ji’Ayir Brown and Kalen King can also challenge the OSU wide-outs, and if they can break up passes, this can be a closer game, and might put the momentum in Nittany Lions favor. 

Water Cooler Stat of the Game

5. The Buckeyes are on a 5 game win streak against the Nittany Lions, which is the longest win streak in the series between both teams. 


Ohio State will travel for the second time this season, and will play against a top 15 team in Penn State, who has challenged the Buckeyes from 2015-2021, but only has 1 win at home in that stretch in 2016. The Buckeyes will be bringing the nation’s second best offense that had some issues in the run game last week against Iowa, but should be able to attack Penn State’s front seven, who are giving up 140 yards a game on the ground. Where the biggest challenge will be for Ohio State is can their receivers get separation from one of the best secondaries they will face all season. Sean Clifford is the veteran leading this offense for the Nittany Lions, and had one of his best performances last week against Minnesota and is looking to repeat. This game looks like it will be a close one to start, and as long as the defense for the Buckeyes can shorten the amount of plays Penn State runs, they should give the offense enough time to get into a grove in this hostile environment and get some points to pull away.

Ohio State 49 – Penn State 17

Photo Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

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