Ohio State will put its undefeated record on the line on Saturday in Happy Valley against Penn State, who has won five games in a row.
The Buckeyes and the Nittany Lions are both leaving everything on the field during the regular season, as neither is allowed to play in a Bowl Game or the Big Ten Championship game due to sanctions placed on each program.
Both teams have fought through adversity to enjoy successful seasons thus far. But the Buckeyes will face another challenge, as State College will be an incredibly difficult place to play.
Here is what Ohio State must do to improve to 8-0.
Keep Braxton Miller Healthy
Braxton Miller’s brilliance has been the driving force behind Ohio State’s success this season, and he must be on the field for the Buckeyes to beat Penn State.
The team and its fans held its breath last week after Miller was slammed into the ground and was taken to the hospital and evaluated for a concussion. But the quarterback has passed every test and has been cleared to practice on Tuesday, according to ESPN’s Austin Ward.
Going forward, Miller needs try and protect himself, using the sidelines and avoiding big hits when possible. He is a target every time he runs, and he has to realize this and adjust.
Urban Meyer must try to look out for Miller by pointing out plays on which he could have done a better job of avoiding unnecessary hits, in addition to calling plays that will not expose Miller to too much contact. As long as the versatile quarterback is on the field, the Buckeyes have a chance in any game.
Force Matt McGloin to Make a Mistake
One of the biggest surprises from Penn State this season has been quarterback Matt McGloin.
The Nittany Lions quarterback has been incredibly efficient this season, throwing 14 touchdown passes and just two interceptions. He has competed 62.5 percent of his passes for 1,788 yards.
McGloin has done an excellent job of avoiding mistakes and allowing his defense to win games, and the Buckeyes must force him into making a poor decision.
If Ohio State can get constant pressure and cause McGloin to force a few throws, it stands an excellent chance at winning the turnover battle. With Miller and the explosive offense, a few extra possessions will give the Buckeyes more than enough of an advantage to win this game.
A quick start will be vital to Ohio State’s success in this game.
The fans in Happy Valley will be manic during what will be the biggest game of the season for the Nittany Lions. Moving the ball and getting points early will help quiet down the crowd.
In addition, Penn State is brimming with confidence after winning five consecutive games and completely dismantling Iowa on the road last week in a 38-14 rout. The Buckeyes must throw an early punch to stop the host’s momentum.
Falling behind early would put Ohio State in an extremely sticky situation given the strength of Penn State’s defense. But if the Buckeyes can get out to a fast start, they will be able to build on their lead and improve to 8-0.