The first gigantic matchup of the Big Ten season takes place Saturday at Ohio Stadium as the Penn State Nittany Lions travel to Columbus to battle the Buckeyes. The Nittany Lions are primarily untested but, from the eye test, look like one of the best teams in the country. Ohio State owns a huge road win at Notre Dame, but questions persist on the offensive side of the ball for the Buckeyes.
Penn State has not had to deal with an offense like this.
Nittany Lion’s defense has not seen anything that threatens their success in 2023; they will on Saturday.
Ohio State may not be rolling yet, and their attack remains vulnerable in places, but their offense has still managed to pass for at least 320 yards per game in four of their five games – that includes Maryland and Purdue! Things seem to be heating up just enough.
Ohio State quarterback Kyle McCord stepped up when it counted against Notre Dame. Penn State hasn’t run a significant second half play since early third quarter of their win against West Virginia last September.
Ohio State will likely not produce an exciting offensive display – particularly on the ground – this game. However, that shouldn’t matter much because their defense has held down almost everyone in its path.
The secondary has been an unshakable force against quarterbacks such as Sam Hartman, Taulia Tagovailoa and the WKU attack; unfortunately WKU wasn’t as impressive this season; but Austin Reed is an exceptional passer.
Penn State spectacularly commenced the season, beating West Virginia convincingly and cruising past Delaware, Northwestern and UMass without much difficulty before defeating Illinois on the road and Iowa with an unprecedented 31-0 thrashing – two wins that could prove pivotal in shaping its overall season success.
Through all of this, one issue stands out – eyeballs.
Colorado (who will likely finish 4-8) has been one of the hottest teams to watch, while Penn State has received little to no attention following their opening game against the Mountaineers.
One way or another this week that will all change dramatically.
Nittany Lions haven’t been flawless this year, but their offense remains balanced; two turnovers against UMass were only the second and third all season; the pass defense is considered the top in America.
Ohio State leads college football in terms of sacks, tackles for loss, total defense and against the run – and has proven it can hold its own against everything that comes it’s way. Their defensive front has been particularly effective against opponents; their offensive line has allowed nothing through; and Olu Fashanu may or may not be at the top of many 2024 NFL Draft boards in a non-Caleb Williams world, but certainly won’t be far behind.
Penn State is the more complete team, and the defensive line may be the best in the country, and that defensive line will be the difference in at least covering the spread.
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