“Get It In Ohio”

Saturday Spotlight 

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

Penn State: After being stunned by the Minnesota Golden Gophers, I was wondering how’d they come out against the Indiana Hoosiers this past Saturday. Here I am thinking they’re going to blow the Hoosiers out the building because they’d come into the game with a big chip on their shoulder. Not necessarily. The game was close all the way through. I think the Penn State Nittany Lions are a good team, but there’s one thing they do that makes me question them. They lose focus. I put that simply on the head coach, James Franklin. When it looks like they’re in the game, they really aren’t. That was extremely obvious on Saturday. The Nittany Lions offense is at their best when the quarterback is running the football. They get that with Sean Clifford and had the same during the Trace McSorley days. Sean accounted for three touchdowns in the bounce back win. When the first set of playoff rankings were revealed, they were sitting in the fourth spot. I wasn’t expecting it. But after looking at their schedule, they had two wins over top 25 opponents. They got a tough win in Iowa City over the Iowa Hawkeyes, then beat Michigan in their annual “white out game” in Happy Valley. The playoffs are still a strong possibility as is the division title. Two games in the regular season remain. Today won’t be easy. They’ll face Ohio State at the shoe in Columbus for a huge game in the Big Ten East.

Ohio State: They just keep continuing to roll. When you think they may slip up and get a challenge, they just prove you wrong. This has been one of their best teams I’ve seen in a while. Believe me, they’ve had some great teams over the years, this just happens to be their most complete. They have one of the best offenses in the country of course. It’s like a video game with how they move the football down the field. What’s insane is they can score from anywhere on the field whether they’re backed up on their own 15-yard line or they’re at the 50. They strike at any time. With the news surrounding Chase Young, you’d think that would set them back. Not at all. They’ve remained locked in. The Buckeyes put up 73 on the Maryland Terrapins in week 11. In week 12 on the road in New Brunswick, New Jersey, they put up 56 on Rutgers. Justin Fields had a career day throwing for a career high 305 yards passing and matched his season-high with four touchdown passes. In every game they’ve played, they’ve been victorious by at least three touchdowns. The Buckeyes are a football team that starts fast and puts you away early on. As much as we talk about their offense, what about their defense? That seems to fly under the radar some. A few weeks ago, I told someone that Chase Young is the closest thing I’ve seen to future Pro Football Hall of Famer, Julius Peppers which I never thought I’d ever compare a defensive end to a guy of Julius’ caliber. The Buckeyes entire defense plays collectively well as a unit. Wherever the football is, you see a ton of red or white jerseys there swarming to the ball-carrier. After every game, I leave impressed with their entire team. Today, they get ready for another showdown with a team they’ve become extremely familiar with over the last few seasons, the Nittany Lions of Penn State.

Penn State Player to Watch: Micah Parsons– When he gets things going, the entire defense follows behind him. This kid can flat out run. He’s excellent in tackling in the open field. He plays that spy position over the middle so well. He makes the read first, then he reacts. He can get to the quarterback. He won’t always sack him, but applying pressure on a consistent basis is just as important as bringing him down.

Ohio State Player to Watch: Chris Olave– I really like his role within the Buckeyes offense. He always finds a way to get open. He’s excellent when it comes to finding that soft spot in your coverage. Chris catches the football in the flat, over the middle, on the slant and on the seam routes. If you don’t pay attention to him, he’ll sneak behind your secondary and he’s in the endzone for six points. I look for Justin to target him a bit in this one today.

Final Analysis: This is becoming another one of my favorite matchups. The last three battles between these two have been memorable. In 2016, an unranked Penn State upset Ohio State in their annual white out game. Penn State went on to win the division along with the conference title. Ohio State was still given a spot in the playoffs. 2017, Penn State got off to a fast start, but Ohio State came back. Last season, Ohio State got by with a one-point victory. The Buckeyes need to take a page out of Minnesota’s book and attack the Penn State secondary. Their defense needs to keep Clifford in that pocket or make him throw across his body. Can Penn State get a consistent pass rush on Justin Fields? Every game I’ve seen of Ohio State’s, he’s had the cleanest jersey. Something must give. The running game needs to come to the aid of the Nittany Lions. Keep that offense off the field.

Prediction: Ohio State 41 Penn State 23


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