Posted on October 22, 2017, by Travis Pulver
Penn State and Ohio State will enter Saturday’s game in pretty much the exact same position. Win (and keep winning) and they are in. A victory over the other will lock them into one of the top four spots in the CFB Committee rankings. They have to keep winning for the duration of the season, of course.
But the pivotal victory will come for one of the two on Saturday.
While Ohio State will be more concerned with winning and getting into the top four, a part of them would not mind getting a little revenge for last season’s loss.
When the fourth quarter began, they punted the ball away to the Nittany Lions and held a 21-7 lead. Penn State hadn’t moved the ball much for most of the game but especially in the second half. All the Buckeyes had to do was keeping playing as they had been, and everything would be okay.
But they didn’t. Suddenly it became Ohio State that couldn’t move the ball. When they lined up to kick a field goal with 4:27 left and up by four, 21-17, they thought they were extended their lead. But then the attempt was blocked, and the ball returned 60 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.
Yeah, that’s the kind of thing you want revenge on. But can Ohio State get it? Saquon Barkley is no joke. Trace McSorley is more than capable. DaeSean Hamilton isn’t half-bad either. Penn State’s defense will not be easy to score on.
However—it will not be easy to score on Ohio State’s defense either. J.T. Barrett is one of the best quarterbacks/athletes in college football. J.K. Dobbins is no Barkley, but he isn’t easy to bring down either.
In the passing game, the Buckeyes have eight guys with 13 catches or more and three with 20+. Parris Campbell leads the group in yards (28 receptions for 405 yards). Johnnie Dixon may only have ten receptions (276 yards), but the junior is tied for the team lead in touchdown receptions with four (Benjamin Victor also has four).
So—who’s going to win?
Ohio State has a great defense, and J.T. Barrett is an incredible athlete. But the Buckeyes have not played anyone of substance, with one exception, of course. But that team, Oklahoma, beat them by 15 (31-16)! Not only did the Sooners put up some points, but they shut down the Buckeyes offense—and their defense is good, but certainly not great.
That game was early in the season. So, you could say that the Buckeyes have worked out the kinks and got their act together. But it’s hard to tell since they haven’t played anyone else. Army isn’t bad, but the rest of their lineup has been weak.
Of course, they are going to beat up on UNLV, Rutgers, Maryland, and Nebraska— as they should have! But now we are talking about playing a team that is leading the country in points allowed (9.6 points/game), ranked ninth in total defense (282.9 total yards allowed), and 16th in scoring (40 points/game).
Penn State is on a whole other level. To be fair, the Penn State schedule hasn’t exactly been full of heavyweights this season. But they have faced a much better defense than Ohio State’s (Michigan’s) and decimated it (506 total yards and 42 points).
Ohio State’s defense will keep it close in the first half, but Barkley is going to wear the Buckeyes defense down and start gashing it for big gains in the second half. When the Buckeyes try to counter, trace McSorley will start picking their secondary apart.
The first half will be good, but the second half will get ugly. Penn State wins by double digits.