Penn State Blows Out Northwestern, Eyeing Ohio State

Mike LewisContributor INovember 1, 2009

STATE COLLEGE, PA - SEPTEMBER 19: Running back Evan Royster #22 of the Penn State Nittany Lions carries the ball during a game against the Temple Owls on September 19, 2009 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
Hunter Martin/Getty Images

After routing Northwestern in the fourth quarter last week, Penn State is gearing up for its biggest game of the year on Saturday.

Penn State will meet Ohio State in Beaver Stadium at 3:30 p.m. Having already lost to Iowa, this will be the team’s last chance to beat an opponent from the Top 25. Ohio State is currently ranked 16th in the BCS standings. Penn State is ranked 11th.

A loss will all but end one team’s hopes of playing in a BCS bowl game. For Penn State, a win will give them a great chance of finishing the season 11-1 and returning to the BCS.

The atmosphere for this game figures to be special. Penn State will be looking to win back-to-back games against the rival Buckeyes for the first time since joining the Big Ten.

This year, Ohio State is 7-2. They have rebounded from an embarrassing loss to Purdue by beating Minnesota and New Mexico State by a combined 86 points.

Penn State will be coming into this game with plenty of confidence. They are 8-1 and have won their last five games by 20 points or more.

The offensive line, which had struggled in the beginning of the year, has gelled and is now playing very well. Darryl Clark seems to have developed good chemistry with a new group of receivers, and Evan Royster is now running about as well as he did last season.

The defense, which has dominated all year, seems to be getting even better. Star linebackers Sean Lee and Navorro Bowman are finally both healthy. The defensive secondary, led by sophomore D’Anton Lynn and senior A.J. Wallace, has become a very good unit as the season has progressed.

Penn State was in danger of suffering an upset against Northwestern before pulling away in the fourth quarter. They were losing 13-10 at halftime and were tied at 13 after three quarters. After that, the offense woke up and scored three touchdowns in a three-minute, 40-second span.

The Nittany Lions took the lead on a three-yard touchdown run by Brandon Beachum. Their next two drives would last just one play each. Darryl Clark found Derrick Moye for a 53-yard touchdown to put Penn State up by 14. Then, Evan Royster broke off a 69-yard touchdown to put Penn State up by 21. That was the game’s last score, and Penn State won 34-13.

Against Ohio State, Penn State will look to pick up where they left off in the fourth quarter last weekend. If they are able to do that and win their remaining games against Indiana and Michigan State, they project as a BCS team and are likely to play in the Fiesta Bowl or Orange Bowl. If not, their BCS hopes will all but end.