This week the Penn State Nittany Lions return to Beaver Stadium to square off with one of their biggest rivals, the Ohio State Buckeyes. In one of the most anticipated match-ups of the season, the 8-0 Buckeyes roll in to State College as one of two unbeatens in in the Big Ten, Penn State being the other team. The Buckeyes are led by charismatic head coach Urban Meyer. The Buckeyes team mirrors their coaches personality, gritty, tough, hard-nosed, and they play with a chip on their shoulder.
As most are aware, neither Penn State nor Ohio State will be going to the post-season due to NCAA sanctions. Many have dubbed this game the Ineligi-Bowl or the Sanctions Bowl, but even so, this game has a lot riding on it. Both teams want to be able to say they were the best team in the Legend’s Division in 2012. While Wisconsin may be the division’s representative, most people would agree that Penn State and Ohio State are the two best teams right now.
Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien has his team hitting on all cylinders coming into this game. Last week the team put on an impressive display out in Iowa City as they carved up the Hawkeyes, a place they hadn’t won since 1999. Behind a dazzling display of running and passing the ball, Penn State wore down the Hawkeyes on both sides of the ball. Coming into the game, much of the scuttlebutt was about whether running back Mark Weisman would even dress. Indeed he did dress and actually saw a few snaps, but it made no difference. The Nittany Lions were on a mission to erase the ghosts of the past, much the same way they are trying to do this week against Ohio State
A stat worth mentioning is that Ohio State has not lost back-to-back conference games to an opponent since ’03-’04 when the Wisconsin Badgers were able to pull off the feat. This year, Michigan State, Nebraska, and Purdue have all had a crack at the repeat, but were unable to pull it off. Next up…Penn State. Can the Nittany Lions pull off a second-consecutive win against Ohio State? The last time Penn State won 2 straight over Ohio State was 1978 and 1980 (pre-Penn State Big Ten days). Since Penn State has joined the Big Ten, Ohio State and Penn State have battled it out 19 times and Ohio State leads the series 12-7.
For Penn State to pull off the win, keep reading to see what my keys to the game are.