Penn State (6-0) vs. Ohio State (6-0)
The first real game of the season for Penn State (or “Game of the Year”, as the media hype labels it) is nigh. The 6-0 Nittany Lions travel to Columbus to meet the Schmuckeyes (6-0) in what this Turkey considers the winnable one of two must wins this year. But will they emerge victorious or will the Schmuckeyes emerge schmucktorious? That, my friends, is the resounding question.
Do not despair; the opinionated Turkey is here. The bullshit below will not determine who wins or loses, but how they play the game.
About “Our” Opponent
(I like how it’s always “we”, although we are not the ones out there playing the game).
First, it should be noted that Ohio State is “banged up.” No, this does not refer to the hookers Urban Meyer hired several years ago to “comfort” recruits. Urban is long gone, and so are the hookers. Instead, we refer to three injured offensive players, receiver Emeka Egbuka and running backs TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams. Head coach Ryan Day described them all as “hopeful”.
Stars on Parade
However, despite the injuries, the Schmuckeyes had no trouble beating Purdue last week 41-7 in West Lafayette, where it snows sometimes. (But did we visit the Purdue campus? No.). They have All-Everything receiver Marvin Harrison, Jr., whose NFL Hall of Fame bloodlines are obvious; Junior is headed for a career eclipsing that of Senior, methinks. He’ll be the only test of the PSU secondary this year, and of the Manny Diaz pressure defense. See Marvin get behind the man defense. See him run. Run run run! Oh, but they’ll flatten Kyle McCord with the eight-man rush while Marvin is scoring. Harrison ranks 21st in receiving yards with 604 and 5 touchdowns. Last year, Egbuka had over one thousand yards and ten touchdowns. We better hope Egbuka stays injured or they’ll need to double team both him and Harrison. Oy Vey!
Quarterback Kyle McCord was originally recruited by Penn State, and he’s in the same boat as Drew Allar, only with an offensive line in front of him. He’s got a completion rate of 64% and has thrown for 1,651 yards with 11 touchdowns and only one interception.
IS PSU up to the Defensive Task?
I do believe that Penn State can shut down Ohio State’s running game, even if Henderson and Williams show up semi-healthy. Bear in mind that much of tOSU’s success this year is attributable to passing, which accounts for 70% of their total offense this year. Amazingly, Ohio State total rushing offense ranks 92nd in the FBS, just behind the Ohio Bobcats with an average of 135 yards per game. They use the run to pound the opponents at the goal line, as evidenced by their 12 rushing touchdowns versus 13 passing. In passing offense, they rank 15th.
However, against the pass, the untested Nittany Lions secondary will need to be present, healthy, and committed. It is going to be a long day for them.
Howz bout tOSU defense?
Defensively, the Bucks rank 7th overall, allowing only 263.5 yards per game. However, they are 22nd in rushing defense and 4th in passing yards allowed. They’re tied for first in defensive TDs, with one fumble return and two interceptions for touchdowns. The Schmuckeyes are fourteenth in red zone defense, denying their opponents 32% of the time. Senior linebacker Tommy Eichenberg is their mainstay, with 46 tackles,
Butbutbut, who have they played?
Leading off the 2023 season with a 23-3 win over Indiana, the Buckeyes steamrolled over a couple of non-conference cupcakes before their battle with Notre Dame, which they won with a last-second touchdown, the highlight of their season to date. Then, a 37-17 win over Maryland followed by last week’s 41-7 win at Purdue brings us to the present. That win over Notre Dame showed this Turkey some early season character. They didn’t give up. Down 14-10 with four minutes left, they forced a three-and-out, then with only a minute-and-a-half left, they drove 65 yards for the winning touchdown.
The Nittany Lions still haven’t played anyone, so this game will reveal any flaws that haven’t yet become apparent on offense, defense, and special teams. Watching the offensive line being pushed around by the lightweights on the UMass defense was not encouraging. Neither is the absence of a reliable running game. Those Sanguinarians who count West Virginia and Iowa as superior opponents might need to adjust their expectations of similar success with the Buckeyes. Call ’em schmucks, but they’re deep and well coached, even if they don’t look as strong this year as they have in recent years. While it is true that Penn State has not allowed any more than 15 points in any game this year, I would think twice about assuming that they can hold tOSU to that few.
A “Must” Win
This is a must win for Penn State, to stay in the thick of things. It is winnable, in the estimation of this humble Turkey; Michigan, three weeks down the road, is not. Mind you, I’m not conceding the Wolverines’ game, just being realistic. This year, one of those two Big Ten East rivals is a pretender, and one is not. We’re playing the pretender this week. Must win. Must.
A Word about Rankings
Yes, that is the perfect compound word to describe what I feel about FBS rankings prior to Week Eight. I could have said “meaningless”, but that would be technically incorrect. They mean something to the guy sitting next to you at the bar, and to the television promotion people. But they shouldn’t mean shit because they’re pulled out of sportswriters’ and coaches’ asses. And this time of year, they’re always wrong AF.
(I hate that AF shit, but I pulled it out here).
And now, da wedda…
Hey, I know it is early, but it’s fall in Columbus, so the typical forecast applies. Dreary and breezy with an occasional shower. Hell, the Lions have played in much worse — like last week!
da Bottom Line
This Official Nittany Turkey Poop Prognostication, the weekly utterance by this foul old fowl, is brought to you by the fine folks at Preparation-H. “When the Nittany Turkey is being a pain in the ass, bend over and smear some on! Don’t delay, try it today!”
Well, here we are. We know a little more than we did back at the season’s outset, but not much. Alas, slowstartosis remains a nagging chronic condition for the Nittany Lions, and they’re facing a team with a winning mentality and a shitload of talent. Accordingly, it would behoove the Boys to get going quickly. As I have stated throughout this diatribe, they need this win. They need it dearly.
The gaming houses favor tOSU by 4, with an over/under of 46.5. That works out to a Schmuckeye win to the tune of 25-21.
If Egbuka and Henderson both play, PSU is by all means screwed. If they’re not, there’s a glimmer of hope. Ryan Day was equivocal in his presser, using the word “hopeful”, so who knows? The Turkey knows. Sounds to me like Penn State has a chance to make the big statement here. The vaunted defense will need to be big, as the sportscasters say. They must contain Marvin Harrison and the offense must take care of the ball. A running game wouldn’t hurt, and the first defense to score probably wins the game. So hang onto the ball like it was your mother’s life and play conservatively, but not too conservatively.
This game is in the Horseshoe, where there’ll be 100,000 hyped-up Schmuckeye loyalists making mucho noise, disrupting shit, and in general, being obnoxious because Ryan Day has been exhorting them all week to do so. I think it will all be too much to handle, coupled with slow starts as well as James Franklin’s putrid record against scarlet, gray, maize, blue, and other assorted rainbow components. Ohio State 17, Penn State 13. Franklin keeps his record against Ohio State and Michigan heading south. I think we’re looking at a conservative-ass pitcher’s duel here, so watch it turn into a freewheeling blowout. Nevertheless, take the under.
I’ll be back after the game to eat some crow, I hope. Go Lions!