NCAA Week Eleven: Penn State vs. Ohio State
PSU: 2010 record – 6-3
OSU: 2010 record – 8-1
Spread: Ohio State by 18
Where: Ohio Stadium
When: Saturday, 3:30 PM on ABC/ESPN
Last time met: Nov. 7, 2009 – Terrelle Pryor threw two touchdown passes and rushed for a touchdown as the Buckeyes rolled 24-7. Graham Zug was the lone bright spot for the Nittany Lions grabbing seven catches for 96 yards in the loss.
Opposing player to watch – QB Terrelle Pryor: Pryor has been the big man on campus for the Buckeyes for the last three years. He is always a threat to run and Penn State will always have to keep an eye on his running ability. He is not quite as effective if he is forced to stay in the pocket and throw. He has a decent arm and can still hurt any team. Despite being 8-for-17 in last year’s contest against the Nittany Lions, he still tossed a pair of touchdowns and led the Buckeyes to an easy win. Pryor’s pure athleticism is the one thing that makes him so dangerous. He is second on the team in rushing with 483 yards while Daniel Herron leads the team.
Offenses: The Nittany Lion offense is really clicking under Matt McGloin. McGloin will be under center in Columbus and gives Penn State the best to win right now. Robert Bolden just couldn’t move the football against Northwestern and was the reason that he was pulled. Paired with the booming running game, McGloin and the Nittany Lions stand a good chance to pull off the upset. Now they won’t be able to get behind like they did against Minnesota and Northwestern and still expect to win the game. Derek Moye is one player that I’ve been very impressed with this season. He seems to find a way to get in the end zone almost every week. He has been a safety blanket for both McGloin and Bolden. The Nittany Lions’ solid receiving core is one reason they have six wins on the season.
As Pryor goes so goes the Buckeye offense. When Pryor can buy time and create plays with his legs, Ohio State is very successful. The Buckeyes’ running game is very good. They rank third in the Big Ten averaging 211.8 yards-per-game and 5.0 yards-per-carry. Daniel Herron has 634 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns this season. Ohio State also boasts two wide receivers with over 600 yards receiving this season. Pryor has very good target including Dane Sanzenbacher and DeVier Posey. They have combined for 13 touchdowns. Pryor has plenty of offensive weapons and can carve up the Penn State defense if they are not on top of their game.
Advantage: As much as it pains me, the advantage has to go to Ohio State. Pryor is an experienced signal caller and led the Buckeyes to great seasons throughout the past three years.
Defenses: The Nittany Lions played excellent defense in the second half against Northwestern last week. They didn’t allow a single point in the second half and were the main reason that McGloin had a chance to bring back Penn State back. The Nittany Lions as other teams have, have had trouble with quarterbacks with running ability. They struggled with both Denard Robinson and Dan Persa and allowed huge chunks of yardage on the ground. Penn State can’t fall into the same pattern against Pryor and the Buckeyes. We all know Pryor loves to pull the ball down and take off into the open field. He doesn’t have the greatest arm in the world so his running ability really makes him the dangerous playmaker that he is. The pass rush will have to be strong and put pressure on Pryor. They also will have to have a quarterback spy on him at all times.
The Ohio State secondary is very strong despite the loss of defensive back Tyler Moeller for the season. They lead the Big Ten with 15 interceptions, so they clearly thrive on takeaways. The Buckeyes will most likely be looking to put pressure on McGloin early in the ballgame. This will be McGloin’s first career start on the road and the Buckeyes will be looking to take away his confidence. They are also fourth in the Big Ten with 16 sacks on the season. Penn State’s offensive line is playing better and will have to be on their game to protect McGloin. Senior captain and leading tackler Ross Homan should be back this week from his foot injury. Ohio State’s front-seven is certainly one of their many strengths and Homan will help to cause problems for the Penn State offense.
Advantage: Penn State has the slight edge due to its recent play. They need to get a few takeaways if they want to upend the Wolverines.
Penn State: OT Lou Eliades (Torn ACL) *Out for the season, TE Garry Gilliam (torn ACL) *Out for the season
Ohio State: DB Tyler Moeller (torn pectoral) *Out for the season, DB Christian Bryant (foot infection) *Out for the season, LB Dorian Bell (concussion) *Expected to play, LB Ross Homan (foot) *Expected to play
Prediction: Penn State is playing well right now. I think they will take the Buckeyes to the brink of defeat. However I think Ohio State is way too good to lose this one. Buckeyes prevail in a close one 24-20.