The Nittany Lions are set to host the Buckeyes this Saturday night in a game that features two teams that many think are the best in the conference. Vegas has the game as a pick em and both fan bases feel confident. After accurately and unanimously picking a one-sided win over Iowa, let’s see what the VBR staff thinks about the de facto Big Ten Championship.
Matt de Bear:
How long have we waited for a game like this in Happy Valley? Sure, Alabama visited last year, and Ohio State has been in a few times since 2005, but I can’t remember a buzz like this game has generated since maybe Ohio State in 2005, or the 2007 Notre Dame game. And the actual game is going to meet the hype. For my money, these are far and away the two best teams in the Big 10 at this point in the season.
This is the best defense Ohio State has faced to date. The other top end defense was Michigan State, who held Braxton Miller and Co. to just 17 points. Where Sparty couldn’t take advantage, Penn State will. PSU’s offense is well built to expose OSU’s weakness at linebacker with the 4 big tight ends. Not only is LB a weakness for the Buckeyes, but they have really struggled in pass coverage. Expect Gilliam, Carter, Lehman and James to find openings for McGloin. Keep an eye on Bill Belton as a receiver out of the backfield as well. It will be close, but All Everything (except Lombardi and Lott candidate) Michael Mauti channels his inner Tamba Hali, and sacks Miller late, forcing a fumble that seals the game.
Bill O’Brien out-coaches Urban Meyer. The Penn State defense shuts down Braxton Miller and Company before the Nittany Lion offense rallies in the fourth quarter to hand the Ohio State Buckeyes their first loss of the season.
The Buckeyes enter this game on an eight game winning streak while the Nittany Lions have reeled off their last five in a row. Something has to give in the madhouse that is Beaver Stadium. In order for Penn State to win, they have to hold the Buckeyes rushing attack below their season average of about 250 ypg. Also, Penn State has to control the clock and time of possession just like they did against Northwestern. Penn State can take advantage of Ohio State’s 109th rated pass defense with short throws over the middle to the tight ends and the slot receivers.
Look for McGloin to have another good day (or night) if his offensive line gives him time to throw. The multi-dimensional Penn State rushing attack led by Bill Belton and Zach Zwinak will be a needed change of pace as Penn State tries to hold onto the ball.
In the end, I really, really want to go with Penn State. My heart says one things while my brain says something different. Oh, what the heck, since Bill O’Brien doesn’t punt…neither am I! Penn State will use the crowd noise to their advantage as they force Braxton Miller into a couple errant decisions. Matt McGloin will throw for over 250 yards and 2 scores as Michael Zordich adds another. Penn State holds on late as the Penn State Whiteout brings the boys luck yet again.
Penn State hasn’t seen a talent like Braxton Miller. Ohio State hasn’t seen a defense like Penn State’s. There’s a chance that they haven’t seen an offense as powerful as Penn State’s either. Something has to budge. I’ve seen these two teams play more than any other two teams in the country, but I’m not sure what to expect when they square off on the same field.
My guess is that it’s a close game and comes down to a special teams play. Advantage: Buckeyes.
As a student who’s camping out at Nittanyville this week, words can’t describe how much I’m looking forward to this game. The atmosphere should be incredible and this game should be one of the best in the Big Ten this year. Ohio State has a ton of talent and quarterback Braxton Miller, despite being a little banged up, is one of the most explosive players in the nation. But he hasn’t faced a defense like Penn State’s this season. One key for this game will be how the Nittany Lion defense, especially the linebackers, contain Miller and limit his big plays. On the other side, Matt McGloin and the Penn State offense haven’t faced a defense like Ohio State’s this season. McGloin has been magnificent this year and this will be a huge test for him and the offense. As much as I want this game to resemble the 2005 game, I think Ohio State’s talent and Miller’s big play ability will edge out a Penn State team that will leave everything it has out on the field.
Throughout the first few games I expected this matchup to get ugly, at the expense of PSU. Bill O’Brien and his staff have done a tremendous job of staying focus and bouncing back. My feeling is OSU has limited success — mostly on the ground — while the OSU D leaves much to be desired. The Lions methodically put together 10-12 play scoring drives and deliver a win for what should be a raucous Beaver Stadium.
Bill O’Brien eschews a 40 yard FG attempt and goes for it on 4th and 4 with 3 minutes left. McGloin hits Robinson in the numbers as he crosses the goal line. The crowd noise is heard in Altoona.