Ohio State Preview
Matchup: No. 9 Penn State (4-0) vs. No. 4 Ohio State (4-0)
Where: Beaver Stadium, State College, PA
When: Saturday September 29th, 2018 at 7:30pm EST
Penn State Offense vs. Ohio State Defense
By: Brandon Musso
Last week saw another blowout as the Nittany Lions crushed the Fighting Illini in their unusual Friday night matchup. Despite a 63-24 final score, the game was rather close in the first half, something that has become quite a habit for Penn State this season. A strong second half, however, led Penn State to a blowout win to improve to 4-0. Once again the offense showed their fire power including Miles Sanders who rushed for 200 yards and three touchdowns. Trace McSorley only passed for 160 yards but he also added three touchdowns and rushed for 92 yards.
Now the team moves on to one of, if not the most challenging games on their schedule, Ohio State. It is the annual White Out and ESPN’s College Gameday is in town for the prime time Saturday Night Football matchup. This game will go a long way for each team’s resume when it comes to the B1G Championship and the College Football playoff, so you know both teams will be at their best.
Saturday’s matchup will by far be the toughest defense that the Penn State offense has seen so far this season. The offense had their way with the first four opponents but don’t expect to see them put up 50+ points against the Ohio State defense. Greg Schiano is an experienced defensive coordinator with enough talent to make a formidable defense.
McSorley and the offense caught a bit of a break as Ohio State star defensive lineman Nick Bosa is out for the game following an abdominal surgery. Bosa is a one of the most talented players Shiano has on his defense. He would definitely have caused havoc in the backfield if we was able to play.
Although that Bosa is out, Penn State still needs to be aware of other impact players on the defensive line. Defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones has three sacks and 5.5 tackles-for-loss, good for second in the team in both categories with Bosa being the leader. Look for him to continue to make a name for himself and give McSorley and the running backs trouble in the backfield.
In the secondary, strong safety Jordan Fuller and cornerback Damon Arnette are two guys that James Franklin noted in his Tuesday press conference. They are also impact players that McSorley and the receivers should be aware of in the passing game.
Penn State Defense vs. Ohio State Offense
By: Kraigen Rasalla
After yet again struggling early on against an inferior opponent, the Penn State defense takes on their toughest test of the season, the fourth ranked Buckeyes of Ohio State. Despite Urban Meyer being suspended and Dwayne Haskins becoming the new starting quarterback after J.T. Barrett thrived in the role for four years, this Buckeyes offense has been unstoppable thus far. They are currently second in offensive points per game in the country (behind Penn State). Let’s look at a positional break down for this explosive offense.
As mentioned before, Dwayne Haskins has been incredible in replacing J. T. Barrett. Haskins has provided a vertical threat into the passing game that Barrett, even at his best, could not provide. Haskins has a 16:1 touchdown to interceptions ratio so far this season and is a top Heisman trophy candidate as the Buckeyes enter the bulk of their conference slate. He’s also completing passes at an over 75 percent clip. However, this is Haskins first true road test as a starter, and with the whiteout crowd of Beaver Stadium looming, it will be interesting to see how Haskins responds.
At running back, the Buckeyes have a two headed monster. J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber are both dangerous weapons out of the backfield, as both average almost six yards per carry. Both Dobbins and Weber are capable receivers out of the backfield, as well. Look for both backs to see a significant amount of time with some packages featuring both backs on the field at the same time.
At receiver, the Bucks also have a variety of talented options at this position. Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin have been the top receivers so far, combining for nine touchdowns. Also, K. J. Hill and Austin Mack both have over 15 catches and 200 yards receiving through the first four games. Haskins has plenty of options to go to. It’s going to be tough for the Nittany Lions defense to stop all of them.
Fortunately for the Nittany Lions going into this game, their defense is relatively healthy. However, their defense will have to focus and use the atmosphere of Beaver Stadium to their advantage if they want to stop this Buckeyes offense.
Brandon Musso (4-0):
This is one the biggest games of the season so it helps that Penn State is playing this one at home in front of a White Out crowd. Last year was a heartbreaking loss out in Columbus but Penn State brought that one right down to the wire before a last minute Ohio State touchdown doomed them. The White Out will definitely give Penn State an extra boost, however I think that Ohio State’s offense will be too much for Penn State’s young inexperienced defense.
Ohio State 42 Penn State 35
Kraigen Rasalla (4-0):
I think this will be a back and forth matchup much like last year’s contest in Columbus. I think the offenses are very even while the Buckeyes possess the defensive edge, even with potential top pick Nick Bosa out for this game. However, I think this game is decided on special teams, much like it was in 2016. De’Andre Thompkins has been very close to breaking out for a punt return touchdown since his TD return against Pitt. I think a big punt return by Thompkins or K. J. Hamler will be the difference and go down as the memorable play of the game, much like Marcus Allen’s block did two years ago.
Penn State 42 Ohio State 38