#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.
I’m going to take the over and risk a prediction of Penn State 35, Ohio State 33. I believe motivation and the memory of last year’s win will power up the adrenaline flow for PSU and drive a victory!
The Nittany Turkey says
Of course, last year is supplying plenty of adrenal motivation to the Bucks, too. This one is too hard to pick, so I pulled another one straight out of my ass. My heart is with the Nittany Lions. My head — is up my ass!
Big Al says
I’ve made an early New Year’s resolution to stop making predictions on the score for a Penn State football game. Every prediction I’ve made this year has been wrong and this game is pretty much a toss up anyway.
I don’t think Ohio State’s offense is better than it was last year – Barrett can’t throw more than 2 yards downfield accurately and his receivers aren’t that good at getting separation. They force their opponents to sell out to stop the run and then burn them with play action passes. Our chance to win will depend on how well the front 7 stops tO$U’s running game – particularly Barrett himself. PSU’s defense didn’t do a stellar job against O’Korn’s scrambling last Saturday and Barrett is a much better runner. And winning will probably also depend on PSU scoring touchdowns when they get inside the red zone. After viewing the Michigan and Iowa ‘tapes’, I’m pretty sure Schiano will use the “pervert” defense (since he observed the master’s use of it – allegedly) and let Penn State have all the 4 and 5 yard gains they want between the 20s and then let the end zone constrict the passing routes.
I don’t have a clue about which team will win, but my gut feeling is that this will not be a very close game. One team is going to dominate and win by at least 14 points.
The Nittany Turkey says
As I recall, you’ve made that same advanced New Year’s resolution before, only to succumb to the temptation to pick another game shortly therefater. Like maybe PSU 83, Rutgers 0, for Homecoming?
What is better about tOSU’s offense this year is the vaunted Kevin Wilson. Barrett hasn’t measurably improved, but he’s being used more effectively, so his stats look better than last year.
Quarterback runs have burned the Nits this year, so I hope they have something in mind for Barrett.
JT may not be a deep passing threat, but he moves the damn ball down the field, as seen by tOSU leading the conference in first downs (averaging over 29 per game) and standing second in the FBS, They’re second in the conference in third down conversions.
The pervert defense, if employed by tOSU, will keep the score low. Furthermore, they’re #1 in red-zone defense. Penn State is #2, which reinforces that. I’m pretty sold on the under.
What I’m not sold on is my score prediction. I pulled it out of my ass, so it’s about as good as anything else that comes out of there. After having been all over the place on this one, I just haven’t got a clue.
So some illogical assessments on my part.
-Me thinks that perhaps both of these teams might be a tad overrated.
-I do think the talent pool is equally deep on both teams so that’s another wash.
-JT Barrett will always be JT Barrett even with Kevin Wilson calling Urban’s offense.
-I don’t think tOSU has any logical revenge motivation as some sportswriters are claiming, other than perhaps a bruised ego or two when they couldn’t do shit with over 4 mins left in the game after PS scored on the blocked FG and besides, they were the ones that went to the CFP.
-A black-out at the “shoe”, goofy grey special uni’s? Meh!
-It’s gonna rain.
-So what’s the deciding factor? I think that loss in the Rose Bowl may be bigger than most people think and I think this team of ours has a bond between players that believe in themselves and each other and that will be the key to a win. And so based on nothing more than that, put me down for a final score of PS 27, tO$U 17 and as a bonus prediction Sean Spencer’s “Wild Dogs” outplay LJ’s.
The Nittany Turkey says
The line is now up to 6.5, but we’ve yet to see in which direction the late action goes. The o/u moved up to 57, too. I still see the under as the way to go.
This here particular pseudo-sportswriter says that the revenge motive is there for tOSU and it is a strong motivator.
However, I also can swallow your logic regarding the Rose Bowl loss. They want that game back, but there’s no way to do that, so they want to prove a couple of things, namely, that it was they instead of tOSU who should have been in the playoffs getting the shit kicked out of them by Clemson instead of losing a close Rose Bowl to USC, a game they think they should have won. So, yeah, those are strong motivators to not go down the same road this year.
Hell, Iowa State might just burst the Horned Frogs’ bubble this weekend in Ames. One thing you know for sure — the top four ain’t going to look like it does now for much longer. Once the CFP committee gets its hands on it, anything goes. And Georgia doesn’t have calm seas ahead: Florida, SC, and Auburn in consecutive weeks. If they get through the season undefeated, they’ll probably wind up facing Alabama in the SEC championship (except in the unlikely event that Auburn beats the Tide). Lot of football to be played and WTFE (way too fuckin’ early) to be making playoff/bowl predictions. So I just throw up some shit and see if it sticks to the wall.
Got you for 27-17, and you think JT is JT no matter who his OC is at tO$U. Besides, it’s going to rain, so he might not complete a couple of his two-yard passes. Yeah, I got it! Your logic is sound here.
OSU has already peaked. The supposed improvements of Barrett just aren’t there. His WRs are meh. Their D is soft. As shown by Oklahoma, they can be pushed around at home.
I have seen no such peak in the way PSU is playing right now. PSUs front 4 is improving every game. McSorely appears to be ironing out his air balls. PSU was well prepared for Michigan, and I fully trust this coaching staff for this game.
Apparently, John O’Neil’s crew is officiating the game. This is not good for our lions, as he has screwed us in the past.
I still stand by my preseason prediction. PSU goes undefeated in conference, and wins in Columbus.
PSA: never trust the early line on ESPN. They had it at a pick. Always consult your local book.
The Nittany Turkey says
The preceding public service announcement is brought to you courtesy of Three-finger Louie’s Sportzbook in Lititz, PA, whose motto is “You beat the House, the House beats YOU!”
The Nittany Turkey says
Interesting observation re the officiating crew. We’ll be watching to see how the fun proceeds. I’m sure mah peeps here at the watch party will critically observe each call, waiting to pounce.
I buy Al’s notion that Schiano will use the Sandusky Pervent (sic) defense to reduce PSU’s big play threat. Their red zone defense is pretty stingy, too. The PSU offensive line must continue their progress.
So, I’m declaring my prediction as good as any, because hell, wherever I go, I see others’ predictions going all over the place. USA Today FTW said, “Ohio State may very well be the best team in the country, non-Alabama division, and we’ll see that this weekend when the Buckeyes take care of Penn State at home. Lay the points.” What a crock of shit! tOSU has more flaws than a Chevy II Nova made on a Monday. No respect whatsoever for PSU. Anyhow, some say close game, some say blowout. Predictions range from the sublime to the ridiculous and everything in-between. The bottom line on predictions is that no one knows shit and all are pulling these things right out of their ass.
I wouldn’t bet this game if you GAVE me the money!
The Nittany Turkey says
Summary of homey predictions – most have PSU winning:
Big Al: early new years resolution swearing off picking games, but will not be close — doesn’t know who’ll win, but they’ll win by at least 14
Artificially Sweetened: (not homey, but she apologized) tOSU 35, PSU 17
Haven’t yet heard from RD or K. John.
The Nittany Turkey says
This just in: RD weighed in with his pick.
PSU 56, tOSU 26
I’d say he wants the over.