#2 Penn State (7-0, 4-0) at #6 Ohio State (6-1, 4-0)
This will be the next Game of the Millennium, the battle of two quarterbacks WHO CAN HURT YOU IN SO MANY WAYS, and the first time Penn State has faced a potent offense that comes with a modicum of defense, in what will be a season defining game for each of the two combatants.
Ohio State, well rested after a bye week, was last seen kicking the shit out of Nebraska on their home turf, 56-14, while the Nittany Lions kicked similar shit out of Michigan last Saturday night, 42-13.
This here game here is very important to Penn State, as it will probably determine who goes to Indianapolis to play for the Big Ten Conference championship on December 2, which I’m pretty sure will be against a tough bunch of Badgers. And even if we get past THE MOST IMPORTANT GAME OF THE YEAR (this week, anyway), Moo U. looms ahead, and the Spartans sure as hell revel in their roles as spoilers, as they have shown Michigan and Ohio State in upsets we’ll all remember, unless we’ve already forgotten.
I want to tell you that Penn State has never been favored to win this game. The line opened with tOSU 7.5-point favorites. Through the long history between the two “schools” (i.e., football factories), the Buckeyes have pretty much had their way, especially at home in the Horseshoe, although we PSU fans delight in rubbing in wins like 1964, 1978, 1994, and 2016. The reason why we remember them is that they don’t happen that often. I’m sure we all have a story or two surrounding at least one of those games.
All Paths to Playoffs Lead through Columbus
In order to get to the playoffs, Penn State will absolutely need to win this game — ain’t no two ways about it. Down the road from here, they will face Moo U’s stingy defense and assuming they can dispatch the Spartans and the next three lesser opponents, they would have to play Wisconsin in the Conference Championship — which ain’t no easy task, neither. So, I just cannot make enough noise about how important this Fuck the Bucks Reprise is to this group of dudes. Balls to the wall on this one!
The national polls once again gave the Nittany Lions the obligatory #2 ranking this week, but otherwise, our boys ain’t getting no respect. Alabama got ALL the first place votes once again, thus categorizing PSU, Georgia, and TCU as pretenders while Crimson Tide are the real thang. This is another reason to win this Ohio State game — respect! However, after this week I should note that the College Football Playoff Committee takes over the rankings. They can be unpredictable, inspiring conspiracy theories and lots of good, albeit contentious, bar argument fodder. But I digress.
College GameDay in Da House
College GameDay will once again be featuring a Penn State game. Two weeks in a row — don’t know whether I’ve ever seen this before! Desmond, Herbie, and Ol’ Lee will be in Columbus for the game. I’m hoping that Corso puts on the Nittany Lion head for the second week in a row. It didn’t jinx us last week, and it won’t hurt us this week.
Remember, Ohio State plays in Columbus, named after a 15th Century Italian dude who is rapidly becoming a pariah among this country’s revisionist liberal whiners of today. Perhaps we’ll spice up the game with a renaming contest to come up with a more innocuous and politically correct name for the state capital. My early entry is Urban Centre, although Woody Junction ran a close second in my intra-cranial voting.
Ohio State ranks third in the nation in total offense, edged out only by Oklahoma (who beat the Bucks in Week 2) and Oklahoma State. They’re tops in the Big Ten in that category, too, averaging over 577 yards per game. Penn State is second, at just over 463 yards per game. Ohio State is second nationally in scoring offense at 47.3 points per game, which is tops in the Big Ten. PSU is second, averaging 40 points per game. So, we’ll be watching some offensive fireworks, mateys! (Now, watch me be wrong — I thought it would be a defensive struggle against Michigan, after all, but I digress…)
Senior QB J.T. Barrett is having an excellent year with a completion percentage of 66.7%, 1878 passing yards, 21 touchdown passes, and only one interception. That’s just passing. He’s a rushing threat, too, having racked up 359 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. His passing totals are second only to Trace McSorley in the Big Ten, and he tops the Big Ten in passing efficiency. In total offense, Barrett edges McSorley for the Big Ten lead, averaging 313.9 yards per game to McSorley’s 304.7.
Freshman RB J.K. Dobbins is the leading rusher in the conference with a 110.7 yard average, second only to the great Jonathan Taylor of Wisconsin for the Big Ten Lead. Saquon Barkley is third, with 108.1. The 5’10”, 208 lb Dobbins is a rookie phenom, with five touchdowns thus far this season.
Junior Wide Receiver Parris Campbell is the leading receiver for Ohio State, and he also handles kick returns. He’s averaging 14.5 yards per catch and has two touchdown grabs this season.
The Vaunted Ohio State Defense
Well, folks, every team must have a weak point, and for Ohio State, it is their defensive secondary. They’re young and raw, and I can see McSorley’s receivers getting some separation and getting behind them, if they don’t play the Sandusky
The Buckeyes rank only fifth in the conference in total defense and third in scoring defense. Pass defense ranks a meager seventh.
While the Ohio State pass defense suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks, the run defense ain’t all that great, either, allowing 109.6 ypg, good for fourth in the conference behind the usual suspects, Wisconsin, Moo U., and Michigan.
Up front, they’ve generated 2.6 sacks per game.
Some Other Stuff
Ohio State leads the conference in several team categories, among them Scoring Offense, Total Offense, Passing Offense, Passing Efficiency, Kickoff Returns, PAT Kicking, and First Downs.
Columbus is firmly in the grips of shitty Ohio fall weather. Forecast for Saturday is a little rain with a high of 51°.
The Bottom Line
But the thing is, who has Ohio State played? In fact, who has either combatant in this Game of the Century Played? Ohio State played Oklahoma — and lost. Penn State played a vastly overrated Michigan team, who themselves hadn’t played anyone but a struggling Florida team in the initial game of the season. So, what do we really know about these two squads?
Intuition and feel — that’s what we know. We think that this year’s Penn State squad is better than last year’s, which beat tOSU, at home. Of course, nobody mentions (too much) that the Buckeyes beat themselves in that game, with two highly unusual happenstance plays. I maintain to this day that the only place the Nittany Lions were better than the Bucks was on the scoreboard, which is where it counts. But can the Lions beat them this year, on their home turf?
The spread opened at 7.5 and is down to six, in favor of Ohio State, as of the time I am writing this. I originally said that I wouldn’t be surprised if it went down to 2.5 or so, but that remains to be seen. The over/under is 56.5. The gamblers are by and large betting on a 31-25 Ohio state win.
And that leads us to the [turn on reverb] Official Turkey Poop Prediction. Should I be a homey? As I said above, this is a hard one to predict. I thought the Michigan game would be low scoring. It wasn’t. My initial thoughts on this one was that it would be high scoring and close. In the melodious words of Kenny Loggins, now I’m not so sure. This is indeed a homey prediction, more heart than brain, and completely oblivious to the huge Horseshoe home field advantage. This is it! Make no mistake! This one is straight out of my ass — but, you know, shit happens! Penn State 27, Ohio State 25, and pray that that last field goal goes through the uprights. Take the under. I’m very tired. I must go now.
I’ll be back with a recap and another bunch of excuses after the game.