The Big Ten Title Game?

Saturday Spotlight

(2) Penn State Nittany Lions at (6) Ohio State Buckeyes

Penn State: If you aren’t sold on them by now, then I really advise you to watch the film of their game last week against the Michigan Wolverines and if you haven’t known by now, they have one of the best defenses in the country. It sure didn’t look like it last Saturday night because the Nittany Lions ripped through them and wore them down from the start of the game to the finish. I’ve seen many of their games and in most of them, they’ve dominated and hit their opponents in the mouth. I also remember that they needed a come from behind drive to beat the Iowa Hawkeyes on the road. You can say what you want about them not being real and they haven’t played anyone yet but that doesn’t really matter because you play who you play and they’ve shown that last year wasn’t a one year wonder. This team is here to stay and compete for many years to come. I really admire the discipline this team shows in each phase of the game and that’s a reflection of the head coach. The biggest improvement this year has been the play of the quarterback and the world will once again get to see Trace McSorley play. We talk about huge games, it gets no bigger than this one later this afternoon at the shoe.

Ohio State: After the loss to Oklahoma in week two, we really didn’t know what to expect from them. They haven’t lost a game since that beatdown at the hands of the Sooners on September 9th and what’s really different about this winning streak is that it’s somewhat under the radar because if you really break it all down, you haven’t heard much about them which is troubling for me to understand because Urban Meyer coached football teams will always get some type of recognition. When I previewed this Big Ten East this summer, I remember making a statement saying that for this Buckeyes team to win football games, Quarterback J.T. Barrett had to be playing at his best and this football team would go as far as he can take them and he’s done just that. He threw an interception in the Oklahoma game and he hasn’t thrown one since then. His most recent game against Nebraska maybe the best that I’ve ever seen him look. He made quick work of the Cornhuskers. He threw for 325 yards, accounted for seven touchdowns (five passing and two rushing) and completed 82 percent of his passes. He’s thrown 21 touchdown passes this season and only the one interception I mentioned up top. The defense lost so many guys from last season and they had their glitches and miscommunications early on, but have truly turned it around. Usually, the Michigan game means everything, but I think this one means so much more when you look at all the implications and such.

Penn State Player To Watch: Trace McSorley– Yeah, the Buckeyes will load up and try everything in their power to shut down Saquon Barkley. The kid has shown that he’s human after all. Northwestern bottled him up a few weeks ago. Don’t look past or doubt Trace now! He’s a difference maker in that backfield. Yes, Barkley got his plays last year and he’ll get his home run play in this one for sure, but when you see the tape of the Michigan game, Trace was able to connect on key throw after throw. Last year when they played Ohio State, he only completed eight passes on 23 attempts. To get a huge win on the road, he needs to be better than that.

Ohio State Player To Watch: Mike Weber– He’s their difference maker. He’s the one guy that you can use all over the field in your offensive gameplan. In the slot, as a receiver, out the backfield, he’s the guy that can take a ton of pressure off of Barrett when he doesn’t have it going. He’s been hampered with a knee injury throughout this season. I look for Ohio State to create mismatches with him and make that Nittany Lions defense work to defend him. He’s listed as probable right now on the injury report.

Final Analysis: I was very pumped up about this game when I saw it on the schedule in April and now, it’s finally here! Last year’s game was an instant classic and we often credit this one for igniting the run that Penn State would go on to become Big Ten East champions and the winner of the Big Ten title game. This will be a revenge game for both teams. This was the one loss for the Buckeyes and despite Penn State winning last year’s meeting, the division and the conference title, the committee chose Ohio State as a playoff team instead. This will be the best passing attack that Penn State has seen all year. They will now have to deal with a quarterback who’s been playing great football. Ohio State has simplified things offensively. The O-Line is playing better and they’re in a groove at the right time.

Prediction: Ohio State 31 Penn State 24