The-Ozone Staff Picks: Ohio State at Penn State

Ohio State Football Buckeyes Penn State

The No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes (4-0, 1-0) and the No. 9 Penn State Nittany Lions (4-0, 1-0) take part in the first Big Ten East Championship Game of the year, with two or three more to follow in the next two months.

The Buckeyes are favored by a field goal or so in this one, so Vegas is expecting a close one.

History also expects a close one, as three of the last four meetings have been decided by a touchdown or less.

Of course, there have also been scores of 38-10, 63-14, 38-14, 24-7, 37-17, 28-6, and 45-6 since 2000. All seven of those games have been OSU wins. Penn State’s largest margin of victory in that same span is just seven points.

Are the Nittany Lions due? Or are they doomed?

What say we?

Tom Orr

If you are a Buckeye fan, I have good news and I have bad news. The good news is that Ohio State’s offense should be able to score 30+ points against a somewhat shaky Penn State defense.

The bad news is that you’ve probably watched some of the OSU defense, so you know Penn State could end up north of 30 points as well.

The Buckeyes are a better team than the Nittany Lions. On a neutral field, they would probably be favored by a touchdown or so, which is about right.

And unless something stupid happens, OSU should win this game, White Out or not. The only thing that could kill the Buckeyes is exactly what doomed them in 2016 – critical mistakes on special teams.

Don’t get a punt blocked. Don’t get a field goal blocked. Don’t muff a punt. Don’t commit stupid penalties to extend PSU drives, or kill OSU ones. Avoid those, and the Buckeyes win.

And if the Bucks get out in front early, they can’t sit on the lead. OSU has blown double-digit fourth quarter leads in each of their last two trips to Happy Valley. They’re going to have to keep that pedal pressed to the floor for the full 60 minutes.

Ohio State 41, Penn State 35

Caroline Rice

Two undefeated teams, ESPN’s College Game Day, white out, prime time game at Happy Valley. The rivalry has been growing between these two talented teams, and this game means a lot. This is a tough one for me because I know Penn State is a very tough place to play, especially for a young quarterback. But Dwayne Haskins is always calm and collected, so I think he will adjust and be fine. I’m not concerned about the impact of the noise and the environment. However, the running backs have to step it up this game if they want to have a complete offense. With Mike Weber returning I am expecting to see more rushing yards than last week, but this is a position group that needs to make an impact this week.

Penn State and Ohio State are the top scoring offenses in the country, but I think this game is really going to come down to who can play defense. Defense wins games. I think this one is going to come down to the Buckeyes’ ability to shut down the Penn State offense, which has appeared to be impossible thus far. Ohio State’s defense needs to be on top of it and needs to play their best to win this game, and they have to do that without Nick Bosa. Jashon Cornell did a great job last week, but that effort is going to be needed even more against the Nittany Lions. I think the defensive line will be okay, but I am worried about the back seven. They are going to need to be playmakers on the field and I am expecting someone to step up in that role this week.

But the Buckeyes also need to play penalty free. They cannot afford to hurt themselves in this game if they want to win. Penn State is a second half team, so the Scarlet and Gray need to be ready to compete for the entire game. I think this game is going to come down to the fourth quarter.

Ohio State 38, Penn State 31

Brandon Zimmerman

This is the first game of the year that worries me a little. I have zero doubts that the Ohio State offense is going to put up a lot of points. Problem is, I worry that the defense will also give up a lot of points.

Offensively, Penn State will be blitzing early and often in an attempt to rattle Dwayne Haskins. If you noticed from their past games, a lot of their pressure is off the edges, so Isaiah Prince and Thayer Munford will have to really step up. As a result, the run game might not make many big plays, but I expect a lot of big passing plays.

On the flip side, the defensive line will get a lot of pressure on Trace McSorley, but will they be able to bring him down? I think I may just have PTSD from the Oklahoma game last year where the Buckeyes would be all over Baker Mayfield and he would spin out and hit an open receiver. Linebacker play will make or break this game.

Ohio State 58 Penn State 38

Michael Citro

This is a tough game to pick and might be the most difficult of the season. Both defenses are worse than they should be. Will either clean up nicely for national TV? Both offenses are great.

Penn State is at home at night. Nick Bosa isn’t playing. These things go in the Nitts’ favor. But I think this game will come down to whoever doesn’t screw things up with turnovers or problems on special teams.

Expect Miles Sanders to break some big plays and expect to yell at your television for 60 (game) minutes and possibly overtime.

Ohio State 40, Penn State 38

Tony Gerdeman

I have a few main concerns for the Buckeyes which I will expand upon elsewhere later on, but if the OSU offensive line protects Dwayne Haskins, and if the linebackers play well, and if Ohio State can handle the environment, then this is a two or three touchdown win. Of course, all three of those things happening aren’t all that likely.

Just remember, the concerns that Buckeye fans have for their defense are similar concerns that PSU fans have for their defense. In other words, they’re a lot like a black bear — they’re more scared of you than you are of it. Also, they eat berries and fish straight from the river.

I expect Dwayne Haskins to get hit and rushed, but he’ll be okay. Jordan Fuller will have to be nearly perfect, which he usually is. The Nittany Lions will make plays, but I think the Buckeyes make more. Especially the H-backs.

Ohio State 42, Penn State 31

Chip Minnich

If there is anything that I feel comfortable with as it relates to this game, it’s that I believe this will be a shoot-out with both teams going over 30 points. It will be tremendously shocking if it is low-scoring.

My concerns are built around 1) Ohio State’s inconsistent running game, and 2) Ohio State’s linebackers effectively playing well against Penn State’s Trace McSorley and the zone read.

Will Ohio State trust their corners, playing press coverage on Penn State’s wideouts, stacking the line of scrimmage to make running the ball more difficult for Penn State? Even with the loss of Nick Bosa, I have confidence that Ohio State’s defensive line depth is deep enough to have an impact on Penn State’s offensive game plan, and I believe Ohio State will pull away late in the fourth quarter with a squeaker score.

Ohio State 42, Penn State 38

Mike Meihls

Penn State is easily the best team Ohio State has seen this year. The Nittany Lions can move the ball on offense, and they will again this Saturday. The best way to stop them is to shut down the running game and force QB Trace McSorley to beat you on longer passes. However, shutting down the running game of McSorley, Miles Sanders, and freshman Ricky Slade is a tall task for most teams. I don’t expect the Silver Bullets to completely stop them, but slowing them down is probably enough.

Why just a slow down? Because Penn State cannot stop the Ohio State offense. Even though there are some questions with the OSU rushing attack, I believe that to be premature as it is more an effect of the passing game. Ohio State has shown they can run when they need to, like they did against TCU. But due to Dwayne Haskins’ amazing season so far, that pressure has not been felt yet. I fully expect Haskins and Zone 6 to have another great outing, and for this to be the game that officially launches the Dwayne Haskins – Heisman Hype Machine into high gear.

Expect PSU to move the ball and to slow OSU down, but they can’t keep pace with the Buckeyes.

Ohio State 63, Extinct Creature Mascots of State College 48

Adam Borland

Back in July, I looked at the OSU schedule, put on my impartial hat (it’s plain, beige, and unassuming), and selected the Buckeyes to have one regular season blemish on their record. That’s all that I could bring myself to allow. The talent level, the promising new QB, and a coaching staff that seemed almost unfair in comparison to most other programs forbid me from offering up more than that one loss. The schedule pointed me to a difficult game, and that was the trip to Penn State in late September. I conceded, allowing another white out to be triumphant.

And then, Dwayne Haskins happened, and it was glorious. This game will certainly be no cake walk for the Buckeyes. The Nittany Lions’ offense is talented and will beat the Silver Bullet defense on several occasions tomorrow. That stupid, overgrown cat’s deafening meow will echo throughout their big stadium. However, the emergence of Haskins as a Heisman-caliber leader of the OSU offense will prevail. I’m officially revoking my July prediction and going all-in on a Buckeye victory in Happy Valley tomorrow night.

Ohio State 38 – Penn State 31

9 Responses

  1. Another instance of the blind leading the blind. From the “know it” not so much red eyed blurry visioned Ohio State “Buck Eye” faithful, to the AP Sport writers to the lame brained Coach”s poll it was not a stunning victory but at best a virtual tie. They should have come out of Happy Valley with their heads hanging. Trace McSorely had more rushing yards than the entire Buck Eye offense. Ohio State may have had one more point on the score board than the Lions, which is all that you can see, but if you look at the stats, Ohio State took a nose dive. Best wishes on Saturday against Indiana, I think you’re still licking your wounds from last Saturday evening,

  2. I just dont like their running game and without Bosa, I doubt they will get much pressure. Penn State 41 OSU 27

  3. the run game has to be better -and no it’s not just been because the offense is passing more–the run-blocking has been suspect at times against lesser opponents…no Bosa really hurts, no matter how good the rest of the d-line is…penalties have to be cut in half at least from prior games and as everyone knows the LBs have to show up and play average at worst….hopefully the pass-blocking stays very good to give Haskins time because when he has pressure on him –just like most qb’s–he isn’t as accurate…..with the 2 highest scoring offenses in the country i am expecting a shootout but closer to the score of last year’s games as i think the defenses will rise up occasionally…the white out effect is overrated–it’s people wearing white–yay…….the pass game will get it’s fair share but the run game to me is key on both sides…if we can get the run game going it will not only open up the already-awesome passing game but it will chew up the clock and keep psu’s offense off the field, which is big in this game more than most others….i think the Buckeyes get fired up and play hard and pull out a pretty tight road victory…41-34..go Bucks!

  4. I’m shaking my head in disbelief. Once again Gerdeman has picked EXACTLY the score I had in my head as I was reading down to make my prediction here.
    As such, only Caroline has mentioned penalties, which will be crucial to this game. Tom mentioned taking care on special teams but didn’t mention “Don’t muff a punt!” among them.
    I don’t have much of an opinion of Bill Davis as LB coach and I’m hoping this is the game where his troops prove me wrong. I’m also hoping that Thayer Munford isn’t a “Groundhog Day” of Isaiah Prince 2 years ago.
    I’m gonna go bold and predict the Buckeyes will fix the LB issues and even get a pick-six, at least stem the hemorrhaging on the penalties and that the kids will be alright on the O-line.
    Buckeyes 49
    Nitwits 31

  5. 41-38 PSU in OT. Only loss of the year. They’ll get a winnable New Year’s Six Bowl and finish 12-1. Go Bucks!

  6. I suspect PSU will do as they say. Try to get as much pressure as they can on Dwayne. Hot reads and TE releases will be used by Ohio State. I just haven’t seen more that 1.5 handfuls of inside power trap read plays used so far this year, and that’s one of the counters to beat pressure. Dwayne has to do a good job reading where the PSU blitzes (run or pass) are coming from, and what type of stunts they’re utilizing to mask them. If he can accurately read the defense there are going to be huge plays in the power run concepts. I like JK and Mike 1 on 1 against safeties. Use Luke to occupy the MIKE after a quick chip block on the line and there should be plenty of space. Beat the safety and PSU will be forced to adjust their promise of pressure down a couple notches. Again it’s up to Dwayne to prevent Penn State from being able to mix their coverages by hitting his targets early, at each level horizontally and vertically. In other words, force them to play honest.

    If the Buckeye starting linebackers once again fail to show up, they will either win a tight in the 40’s or 50’s game, or lose. Rather than sending the house to rattle McSorley they have to rely on the linebackers to maintain discipline and fill their gaps. Hopefully they can do something they haven’t shown an ability to do all season………..tackle in those assignment gaps. I like the Buckeyes corners and safeties in any configuration of match-ups against the skill players of PSU. They’re talented and will make plays but I think the Buckeyes can limit them. BiBi and Dre’Mont have to hold serve and change the LOS without over pursuit. Do that and the LB’s should be clean to make plays. Sanders is a good back with a lot of athleticism and talent, but, he’s no Barkley in being sudden and a burner. Tate Martell is a stouter clone of McSorley and should have been giving the Buckeyes real time experience. We’ll see if Isaiah Pryor and whoever is at MIKE can limit him. Never going to shut McSorley completely down…………….just limit him.

  7. Lee Corso will put on the brutus head again.

  8. All about the LB’s ability to make plays and be effective against the zone read. If they get the run going then watch out for the play action. This game has great LB play all over it to control the game. If our D can make some plays and get some stops AND avoid the big play, we win going away. If not, hang on.

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