Win in the trenches
Ohio State is the only school in the Big Ten noticeably bigger, faster, and stronger in the trenches than Penn State Football.
The offensive and defensive lines are always a strength for the Buckeyes.
While Penn State fields above-average defensive lines, they don’t take over the game the same way Ohio State does. The offensive line comparisons are uncomparable. Penn States’ weakness on offense usually centers around the offensive line.
Looking at the gap between Penn State Football and Ohio State, a very telling stat is sacks. Sacks are a measure of disruption and change the game in an instant. It can also show the widening gap of talent in the trenches.
Let’s look at the last four games between these two teams.
2018 was the last one-possession game Penn State played against Ohio State. This game featured the infamous inside zone run play on 4th and 5, late in the fourth quarter. We all know how that play went over. Ohio State out-sacked Penn State in this game 4-1.
In the next game in 2019, Penn State could get nothing going against Ohio State and finished with only 227 total yards. Once again, Ohio State out-sacked Penn State 5-3.
In 2020, the game was never in doubt as Penn State Football never threatened to take the lead. Penn State was out-sacked again, 5-2.
Last season, we saw Sean Clifford get harassed all game, while C.J. Stroud was hardly pressured. The trend continued, Ohio State out-sacked Penn State 4-0.
Long story, not so short. Penn State has struggled to get pressure while Ohio State is constantly in the backfield.
This is where Penn State Football has to start to close the gap against Ohio State.
That happens through recruiting and coaching. This season offensive line coach Phil Trautwein has another year under his belt to come up with a scheme to slow down Ohio States’ defensive line. New defensive coordinator Manny Diaz has built his schemes around pressure and will have to find success going forward.