Analyzing Recruiting Impact of Ohio State vs. Penn State Matchup

Andrew KulhaSenior Analyst IIIOctober 26, 2012

STATE COLLEGE, PA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Head coach Bill O'Brien of the Penn State Nittany Lions (C) sings the schools fight song with the team after defeating the Navy Midshipmen 34-7 at Beaver Stadium on September 15, 2012 in State College, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

The irony of the upcoming matchup between Ohio State and Penn State is that even though there isn't anything to play for from a postseason perspective, there is a lot on the line in regards to recruiting.

Urban Meyer and the undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes will travel to University Park, Pennsylvania to take on the 5-2 Nittany Lions in what would once look like a huge Big Ten matchup.

This season the game meaningless from a record and postseason standpoint because of the sanctions both programs are under, but let's not kid ourselves, these teams have a lot of pride on the line.

The fact that head coach Bill O'Brien has his team at 5-2 after all that they went through in this past year is a testament to his ability as a coach. And nobody can doubt the intensity and championship experience Meyer has brought to the Buckeyes.

Technicalities aside, this is still a big game, and it will have a major impact in the recruiting world.

Josh Moyer of ESPN's NittanyNation is reporting that a staggering amount of recruits will be in attendance for this game:

This is Ohio State week. More than 100 prospects -- from Georgia, Maryland, Ohio and numerous states along the East Coast -- will converge on the sideline, and the Nittany Lions' staff must be prepared.

The importance of having a great game not only on the field, but from a hospitable, welcoming atmosphere and likeability standpoint can't be understated for Penn State. The school has a lot of ground to make up within the college football community, and it's games like this that will be a huge part of the process.

Not only would a win over Meyer and the undefeated Buckeyes show the college football world that the Nittany Lions and their program have a resolve and dedication that goes far beyond wins and losses, but it would be a huge stepping stone for the future.

For the moment, the Nittany Lions must rely on recruiting, and their ability to impress elite players will hinge on not only winning big games, but on the way they pitch the program as restored, renewed and as a great place for college football players.

Penn State won't be able to compete in the postseason for the next four years and its number of scholarships are reduced. Considering this disadvantage, the program will need to make the most out of every opportunity.

The only way Penn State can remain relevant during these sanctions is to continue recruiting elite players with the available scholarships. Winning a game against an undefeated OSU will be an integral part of that process for the Nittany Lions.

From Ohio State's standpoint, the game plan is pretty simple.

Meyer and the Buckeyes just have to wait out this season to get out from under their sanctions, and then they're back on an even playing field with the rest of the country.

Imagine how much momentum Meyer would gain as not only a coach, but also as a recruiter, if he can lead the Buckeyes to an 11 or 12 win season while his players knew they had no bowl game or national championship to play for?

Ohio State is already a huge recruiting draw, but that kind of season would put them over the top with many elite recruits.

This game will essentially be Penn State's bowl game, and if Meyer can pull out a win on the road with more than 100 prospects watching live—plus countless more watching on TV—he would be making a huge statement.

It's ironic how two teams with so little to play for may actually have the most at stake in this epic Big Ten showdown.

This game may not mean much from a record standpoint, but it's going to mean a whole lot in regards to recruiting.


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