Penn State will look to play the role of spoiler on Saturday night on the road against Ohio State when the two Big Ten rivals take the field in ABC's nightcap.
The Nittany Lions come into the game with a 4-2 record, having knocked off Michigan last weekend at home. The Wolverines had been ripe for an upset all year long, and Penn State was happy to finally make it happen.
Ohio State opened up the season as one of the heavy favorites to get to the BCS title game after going undefeated last year. But through seven games, the Buckeyes haven't been nearly as impressive as the other top teams in the nation.
Close wins over Wisconsin, Nortwestern and Iowa have lessened this team's national stature.
Meanwhile, teams like Florida State and Oregon have been doing nothing but crushing challengers on a weekly basis. The newly released BCS standings reflect this, as Ohio State is ranked No. 4 behind Alabama, Florida State and Oregon.
This upcoming contest is a perfect opportunity for Ohio State to put itself back on the map as a national championship contender, but Penn State will have something to say about the outcome.
When: Saturday, Oct. 26 at 8 p.m. ET
Where: Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio
Betting Lines (via Covers)
- Over/Under: 56.5 pts.
- Spread: Ohio State (-14.5)
Penn State Injury Report (via USA Today)
|Jack Haffner||FB||Ques Sat - Ankle - 10/20/13|
|Brent Wilkerson||TE||Ques Sat - Back - 10/20/13|
|Matt Lehman||TE||Out for season - Knee - 9/5/13|
|Brad Bars||DE||Out for season - Undisclosed - 8/30/13|
Ohio State Injury Report (via USA Today)
|Tyquan Lewis||DE||Ques Sat - Undisclosed - 10/20/13|
|Marcus Baugh||TE||Ques Sat - Suspension - 10/20/13|
|Christian Bryant||S||Out for season - Ankle - 9/30/13|
|James Clark||WR||Out indefinitely - Leg - 9/22/13|
|Blake Thomas||TE||Out for season - Neck - 8/17/13|
|Adam Griffin||CB||Out for season - Shoulder - 8/16/13|
|Jamie Wood||DB||Out for season - Shoulder - 8/16/13|
Will Christian Hackenberg Keep Pace with Braxton Miller?
Penn State defeated Michigan because freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg was able to match Devin Gardner in a shootout.
Going up against the high-powered offense of Ohio State, there's a better-than-average chance Hackenberg will need to replicate his performance this Saturday night if the Nittany Lions have any chance of pulling off another upset.
It's not a huge stretch, however, to think that he will do it.
Hackenberg has thrown for 300-plus yards and three touchdown passes in each of his past two games. Unfortunately, his defensive teammates let him down against Indiana two weekends ago, but he did everything right in that game.
The young quarterback can't control how well his defense plays against Miller, but he can surely keep Penn State in the contest with another big game.
Penn State will not get shut out by Ohio State's defense.
In fact, nobody should be surprised if this game ends up being highly competitive—at least through the first half.
Which team will win?
The Nittany Lions can't compete with the raw talent on the roster of the Buckeyes, but this team is gritty, determined and tough enough to give Ohio State all it can handle at home.
That said, Miller's ability to take advantage of Ohio State's many offensive weapons all over the field will end up being too much for Penn State's defense to handle. Look for the Buckeyes to run away with this game in the second half.
Ohio State wins 42-27
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78