Game Ten: Penn State Nittany Lions
Location: Ohio Stadium (Columbus, Ohio) 3:30PM EST, ABC
Head Coach: Joe Paterno
Penn State Players Who Were Recruited By Ohio State: QB Kevin Newsome, LB Michael Zordich, LB Chris Colasanti, DE Devon Still, K Anthony Fera, FB Zack Zwinak, G Johnnie Troutman, G Eric Shrive, CB D'Anton Lynn, and WR Brandon Moseby-Felder. Other Penn State players who either had interest in Ohio State or Ohio State had shown interest in are S Andrew Dailey, RB Brandon Beachum, OT Nate Cadogan, and WR Chaz Powell. A special good luck for WR Ryan Scherer from my hometown of Avon Lake, OH.
When Penn State Is On Offense ~ Penn State has turned the reins of the offense over to walk-on QB Matt McGloin after starting freshman QB Rob Bolden sustained an injury against Minnesota a few games ago. While Bolden has recovered from his injury and is probably the future at the position for Penn State, McGloin has sparked Penn State to three straight victories and helped Penn State to become bowl-eligible.RB Evan Royster has not been as dominant as in seasons past, but Royster has turned it on as of late (734 yards rushing this season), and has become Penn State's all-time leading rusher. When you think of Penn State players such as Franco Harris, John Cappeletti, Curt Warner, Blair Thomas, Ki-Jana Carter, and Curtis Enis, it is impressive that Royster has become the number one name at the top of the list. Even more impressive to me is that Royster has done it this season, with an inexperienced quarterback forcing Royster to shoulder more of the offensive load.
Leading receivers for Penn State this season are Derek Moye, Graham Zug, and Brett Brackett. Considering McGloin's relative inexperience, I would suspect Penn State will try to establish the running game with Royster and keep Ohio State off-balance with a play-action passing game. If Ohio State's stout rushing defense (allowing 84 yards per game) is able to shut down Royster, it could make for a long game for Penn State.
Edge: Ohio State
When Ohio State Is On Offense ~ Compared to last season, Ohio State's offense has expanded tremendously. QB Terrelle Pryor has become an efficient passer, running the ball when opportunities present themselves but seemingly finding WRs Dane Sanzenbacher and DeVier Posey whenever possible. TE Jake Stoneburner has battled injuries this season; this may be a good game to see how Stoneburner matches up against Penn State's linebackers and safeties before next week's showdown at Iowa.
RB Daniel "Boom" Herron had his first 100 yard rushing game two weeks ago against Minnesota and has become Ohio State's predominant ball carrier. RB Brandon Saine has become more of a receiving threat out of the backfield the latter portion of this season. Backup running backs Jordan Hall, Jaamal Berry, and Carlos Hyde may get some opportunities against Penn State late in the game only if Ohio State is trying to kill the clock with a substantial lead.
Penn State's traditionally stout defense is middle of the road this season in virtually every Big Ten defensive category. The leading tackler for Penn State is LB Chris Colasanti, who averages nearly ten tackles a game.
Leading DE Jack Crawford has been battling injuries this season. If Crawford is able to play, I will want to keep an eye on how Crawford battles Ohio State's Mike Adams.
Edge: Ohio State. Ohio State's offense ranks second in the conference with nearly 455 yards per game, while Penn State's defense ranks in the middle of the conference at giving up nearly 346 yards per game. Ohio State has too much offensively for Penn State to handle in this one.
Intangibles: Ohio State is fortunate that Joe Paterno earned his 400th career victory last week, otherwise Penn State would have the psychological edge in this category. Ohio State's Jim Tressel is only 2-4 after bye weeks; one of those losses was at Penn State in 2005. Penn State's players are using the heavy underdog status as motivation coming into Ohio Stadium.
Edge: Penn State
Prediction: I agree with Penn State RB Evan Royster, who is using the aforementioned underdog status as "insulting". Penn State may not have the depth of talent Ohio State has, but I do not believe Ohio State will win this as comfortably as the oddsmakers believe. I am going to say Ohio State 35, Penn State 21, with Ohio State scoring a late touchdown to secure the victory.