Football Hayes & Cannon

2018 OSU Opponent Overview: Penn State Nittany Lions

Ohio State Penn State

“At some point in an individual battle, the other guy says, ‘I don’t want to go anymore, I’ve had enough.’ The same thing with a team. At some point that team says, ‘No, wait a minute. That’s too much for us to handle.’ That’s called tapping out. We will never see this here. That’s a culture. That’s a mindset.” — Urban Meyer, 2012

Heading into his seventh season as Ohio State’s head coach, Urban Meyer has successfully implemented the desired culture and mindset in every aspect of the Ohio State football program.

Competition throughout every position group reigns supreme, and the bluest of blue-chip recruits are always on the way in the form of reinforcements.

Throughout the spring and summer, I want to review the upcoming 2018 Ohio State football opponents, using the theme of competition as the baseline. While Ohio State has had more challenging schedules in the past, there are several games on the schedule that could potentially trip the Buckeyes up and end their goal of repeating as B1G champions.

These articles will examine the 2018 opponents, from least concerning to most concerning, based on various factors that I will list in the respective articles.

As always, I encourage interaction, either through the comments section below, or directly @ChipMinnich. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I look forward to writing them.

3.  at Penn State (11-2 in 2017)

Why am I ranking this game at Penn State as a game of high concern?

2016 ~ Penn State 24, Ohio State 21, in Happy Valley

2014 ~ Ohio State 31, Penn State 24, in 2 overtime periods, in Happy Valley

2012 ~ Ohio State 35, Penn State 23, in Happy Valley.  A little easier, but that game was a 7-7 tie at the half, before Ohio State pulled away in the third quarter.

Oh, and I am guessing that this game from last year in Columbus won’t be dominating the airwaves and talk radio conversations, right?

As of this writing, a kickoff time has not been established, but odds are high that this will be a primetime event. Urban Meyer has been Ohio State’s head coach since 2012, and every game at Penn State during his tenure has taken place at night.

Six players who played prominently for Penn State in 2017 were selected in the 2018 NFL Draft – TE Mike Gesicki (2nd round, Miami Dolphins), S Troy Apke (4th round, Washington Redskins), WR DaeSean Hamilton (4th round, Denver Broncos), S Marcus Allen (5th round, Pittsburgh Steelers), CB Christian Campbell (6th round, Arizona Cardinals), with the most notable being RB Saquon Barkley going second overall to the New York Giants.

While all of those players will be missed, especially Barkley, I am of the belief that Penn State is going to miss former offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead the most.

Moorhead is now the head coach at Mississippi State, with Ricky Rahne being promoted to PSU offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach. While Rahne called the plays in the 35-28 Fiesta Bowl win over Washington, he did have Saquon Barkley at his disposal. It will bear watching to see how the offense functions without Barkley in it, and without Moorhead calling the plays.

No matter who is calling the plays, and no matter how well Barkley’s replacement RB Miles Sanders does, QB Trace McSorley will be the key player in the Penn State offense. Effective as a passer and runner, McSorley will be a headache for every opposing defense within the B1G, including Ohio State’s on September 29.

Defensively, Penn State has to replace eight starters on that side of the ball. With only four games under their belt, will the new players be able to slow down what should be an explosive, but still developing, Ohio State offense?

These games at Happy Valley are always exceptionally difficult. With an inexperienced quarterback in Dwayne Haskins, a raucous (probable) night game atmosphere, and two teams that are quite comparable in talent, this game should have Ohio State fans uneasy when looking ahead to the 2018 season.