Penn State vs. Ohio State: 5 Nittany Lions to Watch Against the Buckeyes
Beaver Stadium will be rocking on Saturday night as the undefeated, No. 9 Ohio State Buckeyes come to town to take on the Nittany Lions.
Penn State is riding a five-game win streak and will look to take over sole possession of the Leaders Division with a victory.
This will be a hard-fought Big Ten game and the Lions will have to get maximum effort from all of their players.
The national broadcast is sure to draw a large audience to watch a battle of two of the best teams in the conference. Ironically, neither team is eligible to win the Big Ten or participate in postseason play.
If Penn State hopes to pull off an upset it will look to several key players to continue its solid season.
Highlighted in the following slides are five Nittany Lions to keep an eye on during the game.
RB Bill Belton
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Running back Bill Belton was supposed to be a key part of the Penn State offense this season. Unfortunately, a Week 1 ankle injury caused him to miss time and not be as productive as expected.
That changed in Week 8 at Iowa.
Fully healthy for the first time since the start of the season, Belton started the game and rushed for 103 yards and three touchdowns.
Belton adds a whole new dimension to an already dangerous Penn State offense. The Lions are ranked fourth in the Big Ten in total offense and will look to keep rolling against the Buckeyes.
Belton should play a major role in the offense on Saturday. Whether it's running the ball to take pressure off of quarterback Matt McGloin or acting as a receiver out of the backfield, the Lions will want to get him going early and often.
QB Matt McGloin
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The play of Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin has to be one of the biggest surprises of the year. The senior has shown the ability to lead the offense and has thrived in head coach Bill O'Brien's pro-style passing attack.
McGloin, who has completed 62.5 percent of his throws, has racked up 1,788 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2012. Perhaps the most important stat of McGloin's season is the fact that he has thrown just two interceptions, something he has struggled with in years past.
McGloin is perhaps the most important part of the Penn State offense. His confidence has grown each week and he shows no signs of slowing down.
The Ohio State defense presents a favorable matchup for McGloin and his offense. The Buckeyes are ranked seventh in the Big Ten in passing defense.
It seems that the Nittany Lions will go as far as McGloin's arm can take them.
So far, it's been all good. There's no reason to believe that McGloin's solid play will end anytime soon.
LB Michael Mauti
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Senior linebacker Michael Mauti is the heart and soul of the Penn State defense. Mauti is the emotional leader both on and off the field and is one of the top linebackers in the country.
The Penn State defense has been tough all year, allowing just 15.7 points per game and 322.7 total yards per game. Mauti, along with fellow senior linebacker Gerald Hodges, has played a huge role in Penn State's success.
On the year, Mauti has recorded a team-high 36 tackles, 2.5 sacks and three interceptions.
Mauti and his teammates will have their hands full with the Ohio State rushing attack, led by dual-threat quarterback Braxton Miller.
The Buckeyes are averaging 249.6 rushing yards per game. Mauti should play a major part in trying to contain Miller whenever the QB tries to run.
If the Lions hope to pull out a victory in Week 9, Mauti and the rest of the defense will need to play a stellar game.
KR/PR Jesse Della Valle
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While Jesse Della Valle sees the field mainly on special teams, he is an important part of this Penn State team, as he has turned into one of the main punt returners for the Lions.
He'll be important to watch in the game against OSU for the simple fact that the Penn State return game has not been very good. Della Valle is only averaging 7.8 yards per return on punts.
The sophomore had a big fumbled punt in Week 6 against Northwestern that led to a Wildcats touchdown.
In the last two games, Della Valle has also seen time as a kick returner. Against Northwestern he had one return for 20 yards and at Iowa he returned a kickoff 46 yards.
Special teams are often a part of the game that can be overlooked. Penn State will have to be on top of its game in all three facets against the Buckeyes.
Della Valle could play a key role in providing good starting field position for the potent Penn State offense.
WR Brandon Moseby-Felder
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Wide receiver Brandon Moseby-Felder has quietly started to have a good season over the past few weeks.
While wide receiver Allen Robinson and the tight ends (namely Kyle Carter) get most of the attention, Moseby-Felder has started to develop into an important piece of the Penn State offense.
Moseby-Felder draws less attention from defenses than the other weapons on the team. That allows him to get open and be a reliable secondary target for quarterback Matt McGloin.
He is coming off of his best game of the year at Iowa, in which he caught four passes for 60 yards.
McGloin has shown that he likes spreading the ball around to different receivers in order to keep defenses guessing. Moseby-Felder will try to take advantage of a porous Ohio State defense and could find the end zone for the first time this season.