Columbus Ohio will be the place to be this weekend for college football. Yes, you have Tennessee-Alabama, Florida State-Duke, and even Utah-USC this weekend, but none of those games will hold a candle to the game that will take place in the Horseshoe. There is a reason that both College GameDay and Big Noon Kickoff will be on campus on opposite ends of the stadium for the pregame festivities
If you are a fan, show up early, bring the energy, and wear scarlet.
CJ Stroud will be back on campus for this game, as he was announced to be the guest picker for College Gameday. Someone please make sure he has a buffer from Desmond Howard, who I personally still find his dig at Stroud during his first Heisman visit to be childish.
As always, the Ohio State media team dropped a great trailer
to get hype for this game.
Both Ohio State and Penn State are hoping to control their destiny in the Big Ten race. Ohio State has been the more battle tested with their epic road trip win against Notre Dame, and the Nittany Lions are trying to prove they belong in the Playoff discussion. The first CFP ranking will be released on Halloween, and the winner of this game should be in the top 4.
The last few matchups between these teams have been a clash between two great teams, and with two of the top 10 defenses in the country, this will be interesting to see who can win the line of scrimmage and make the most plays. Noon Saturday can’t get here soon enough.
Know the Opponent:
Head Coach: James Franklin (9th season)
2023 Record: 6-0
Location: State College, PA
Conference: Big Ten
Ohio State Preview
Ohio State is undefeated and looking to get a critical win against Penn State that will help in accomplishing one of their seasonal goals of winning the Big Ten, a goal that has been road blocked by Michigan the last two seasons. A win though would keep them in control of their destiny, while a loss wont take them out of the race, but they will need to root for Penn State to lose twice or win a tiebreaker situation.
Despite being undefeated though, Ohio State is still finding its identiy, according to Ryan Day in an interview this week.
“I don’t know if I have a good feel for who we are as a team. But now it’s time to go play again in a matchup game again. I think we’ve certainly learned a little bit about the quarterback. We’ve learned a little bit about some of the guys who we didn’t know early in the season.
“But we have the pen to go write the script of what the season is going to look like, and that’s really what matters,” he said.
The Ohio State faithful knowa the magnitude of this game though, and the team knows it as well, as they are looking forward to a great environment against a top 7 opponent.
“It’s just that when you’re in games like this, as we know, it could come down to one play, so everything is amped up,” Day said. “The consequences are higher, the stakes are higher, and that’s the way you want it.”
Kyle McCord has been making steady improvements since the beginning of the season, and his only interception still was from the first game against Indiana. Despite a slower start, his is one of the top quarterbacks in the conference in QBR, and has passed for 1651 yards with 11 touchdowns. Going against this Penn State secondary though, he will need to be sharp on this timing, and getting the ball in a space for his receiver to catch.
The question for the offense going into this game will be who will be available to play at running back. TreVeyon Henderson is believed to be back and ready after two weeks off to heal, and Miyan Williams could be back after limited use. Chip Trayanum was taken out of the Purdue game last week due to what could be a concussion, so his involvement will also be a game time decision. Dallan Hayden made the most of his opportunities filling in, and the Buckeyes should be ok with their running back room for whoever can fill in. Henderson is still leading the group with 295 yards and 5 touchdowns on 44 carries. Trayanum is second with 51 carries for 235 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Marvin Harrison Jr will be the focal point of the passing game, and has been McCords go to receiver this season. Harrison has 31 catches for 604 yards and 5 touchdowns on the season, and for someone who has goals of winning some individual awards at the end of the season, this will be a great game to make a statement. Cade Stover, Farmer Gronk, whatever you want to call him, he has been a consistent aide to McCord as he has been building confidence. Stover has 23 catches for 359 yards along with 3 touchdowns. The question will be now if Emeka Egbuka will be in for the game. There is a solid chance that he might be out, and we saw last week that Xavier Johnson, Carnell Tate, and even Brandon Innis has Buckeye fans confident in the depth of that room.
Penn State Preview
James Franklin is trying to get his second win as the head coach in the series, his first since 2016, and every year he seems to be close to winning, but the victories has been snatched out of his hands.
“We’ve played these guys for a long time,” Franklin said. “Probably up to the last two years, probably played them as well as anybody in the conference. But we got to find a way to be able to win in the fourth quarter and win these one-possession games.”
Penn State enters the game at 6-0, with their lone ranked win against Iowa at home, where they defeated the Hawkeyes 31-0, and tht could be a key win for the Nittany Lions in the situation there is a tiebreaker among the top three teams in the Big Ten East with Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan. They have not been challenged this year yet, and this game will be their biggest test of the season.
The Nittany Lions are at the top of national defensive rankings, limiting opponents to an average of 193.7 yards per game. They’re also No. 1 in pass defense (121.2), pass efficiency defense (80.73), completion percentage (49.1), first downs allowed (67), sacks per game (4.5) and red zone attempts (7).
The offense is led by Ohio native Drew Allar, who has passed for 1254 yards so far this season, with an impressive 12 touchdowns to 0 interceptions. He has not been asked to go out and win a game yet this season, as most of his passes have been in the intermediate territory of 5-10 yards, but that might be Penn State keeping their playbook hidden from opposing teams, and based on their competition to this point, they have not needed to be complex.
The running back duo of Kaytron Allen and Nicholas Singleton entered the season as one of the best tandems in the country, and they have for the most part put up decent numbers with the split carries. Allen has 78 carries for 375 yards with 3 touchdowns. Singleton has been involved a lot more in the run and pass game, and enters with 69 carries for 362 yards with 6 touchdowns, and has caught 13 passes for 111 yards and a touchdown. Behind them is Beau Pribula, who has come in later in games, but still has 34 carries for 225 yards and 3 touchdowns.
KeAndre Lambert-Smith has been Allar’s favorite target so far this season. he has 31 catches for 402 yards and 3 touchdowns. The next closest receiver is tight end Theo Johnson, who has 16 catches for 167 yards and 2 touchdowns. Tight end Tyler Warren is the third receiver to watch, especially in the redzone, and if the Buckeyes secondary will be without Denzel Burke. He has caught 16 passes for 129 yard and 5 touchdowns.
Marvin Harrison Jr. For a receiver looking to become the first Ohio State Biletnikoff winner since Terry Glenn won it in 1995. Additionally, this season is the first time Ryan Day does not have a Heisman candidate at quarterback, which is not a discredit to Kyle McCord, but the fact that there was a quarterback battle that has impacted some of the season numbers for the signal-caller, Marvin Harrison Jr has an opportunity to put himself in the midst of the Heisman discussion much like Jalin Hyatt did after a monster game against Alabama last year
Nittany Lion Spotlight
Drew Allar. The Medina, OH 5-star prospect is getting his first start against his childhood favorite team. I am sure we will hear non-stop during the broadcast that Dre Allar from Ohio is leading Penn State, while Kyle McCord, who played in Pennsylvania, is leading Ohio State, but the redshirt freshman will be the key to Penn State’s success.
Water Cooler Stat of the Game
10-1. Ohio State has won 10 out of the last 11 meetings between the two schools, beginning with the Urban Meyer era, and Ryan Day has been a part of the last 6, and has never lost to Penn State while on staff. Ohio State is looking to make it 7 in a row as they try to secure their second top 10 win of the season.
This is the game of the week, and this is the type of game that can define a season. Ohio State has won the last 6 games against Penn State, and only have lost to them 5 times this century to the Nittany Lions. For Penn State, like Michigan, this is their best version of their team with a more competent quarterback, and for them this year is the best chance to defeat Ohio State. On the field, we are going to see two of the best defenses in the country, and it will be a matter of who can make the most plays on offense. Ohio State has been battle tested already with their game against Notre Dame, and for Penn State, this will be their first test of the season, but I think they dont have the offense that can make the plays against this years Buckeye defense. This one will be close, but the Buckeyes last 6 quarters of football I think is showing they are finally evolving into the offense they were expected to be at the start of the season.
Ohio State 24 – Penn State 14
Photo Credit – The Columbus Dispatch