Ohio State vs. Penn State: Breaking Down Braxton Miller, Matt McGloin

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistOctober 26, 2012

McGloin has been on fire this season, much to the credit of new coach Bill O'Brien.
McGloin has been on fire this season, much to the credit of new coach Bill O'Brien.Evan Habeeb-US PRESSWIRE

Through two weeks of the 2012 college football season, a breakdown between quarterbacks Braxton Miller and Matt McGloin would have been ugly.

Really ugly.

Miller was completing 67 percent of his passes to go with 302 yards rushing and seven total touchdowns in two wins.

McGloin, on the other hand, was less than impressive. In losses to the Ohio Bobcats and Virginia Cavaliers, the Penn State gunslinger was finding his receivers on just 55 percent of his throws.

Fast forward to today and it's a whole new ballgame.

The Buckeyes are coming off two close wins over conference opponents while the Nittany Lions pulled off the upset against the Northwestern Wildcats and shellacked the Iowa Hawkeyes. Penn State is on a roll, but Ohio State is back to its old self—escaping games against lesser opponents.

For good reason, Miller's scary injury that sent him to the hospital against the now 3-4 Purdue Boilermakers concerned Buckeye Nation. ESPN's weekly Heisman Watch ranks Miller fifth, which essentially makes him the fifth-best player in the nation.

So yes, an injury to that caliber player can be really scary.

But according to ESPN's Austin Ward, the sophomore is "full go" for Saturday's showdown in Happy Valley.

Of course, this is great news for Buckeye fans, but especially because Penn State allows just 113 yards per game on the ground.

Miller leads the Ohio State rushing assault with nearly 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns to date. Running backs Carlos Hyde and Jordan Hall have been threats as the team averages 250 yards per game on the ground through eight contests this season.

The Buckeyes aren't short of talent on the outside, either. Devin Smith leads the receiving corps with 505 yards and six touchdowns, while Philly Brown has almost twice as many catches as Smith (23) with 41 receptions on the season.

The Nittany Lions will rely on its top-25 defense to contain Ohio State's offensive attack on Saturday.

Matt McGloin has had a surprising season, to say the least.

After an 0-2 start, Christian Hackenberg couldn't come soon enough.

Six weeks later, Bleacher Report's Ken Rider is discussing if McGloin is a legitimate contender for the Heisman Trophy.

If that isn't a complete 180 degrees of thinking, then what is?

McGloin is easily one of the quarterbacks on the biggest hot streak of late, and leads the Big Ten in passing yards per game.

The former walk-on has also thrown for 1,331 yards, 10 touchdowns and a single interception in Penn State's five consecutive victories. Besides a ranked Northwestern team, each win was decisive—meaning the opposition wasn't hanging around until the bitter end.

He's from Scranton, so McGloin is looking to make Saturday another day at "The Office."

Bad joke? Moving on.

Winning won't come easily for the senior, as Ohio State has intercepted 11 passes on the season. He does have a stud wide receiver, however, in sophomore Allen Robinson, who leads the Big Ten with eight touchdowns catches.

Other key players in Penn State's offensive arsenal are tight end Kyle Carter and running backs Zach Zwinak and Bill Belton. McGloin has utilized each of these weapons in victory, and used them well. If the Nittany Lions want to pull the upset, the offense has to keep up with Ohio State's formidable attack.

The favored Buckeyes cannot overlook the Nittany Lions, despite being 8-0 on the year. Remember, the Boilermakers gave Ohio State everything they could handle last week in The Horseshoe.

It will definitely be a great matchup on Saturday. McGloin has been on a roll recently, but Miller has been fantastic all season.

It's been broken down, so who steps up?


Note: Stats courtesy of ESPN.com and NCAA.com