As the Ohio State Buckeyes travel to Happy Valley to take on the Nittany Lions this weekend, much more remains at stake than a top conference finish and possible BCS berth.
After last year’s tough loss at the Shoe, Terrelle Pryor and the Buckeyes will have revenge in mind following a rocky 2009 season thus far. The sophomore quarterback would also like nothing better than to silence his critics and completely turn around Ohio State’s fortune this year.
The Lions and the Bucks are the only Big Ten teams with just one conference loss on the year, while the Iowa Hawkeyes lead the conference with an overall 9-0 record. With Iowa playing at the Horseshoe next Saturday, the Buckeyes have the chance to be 7-4 heading into the last weekend of play.
Back to the rivalry at hand, the series between Penn State and Ohio State is currently tied, 12-12, with the last four games also split, 2-2.
Last year’s exciting game featured freshman QB Terrelle Pryor fumbling in the fourth quarter with a 6-3 lead, resulting in a touchdown by Penn State’s backup Pat Devlin and securing a momentum shift in the Lions’ favor. The game would eventually end with a Pryor heave to the end zone to be intercepted by CB Lydell Sargeant and result in Penn State’s 13-6 victory.
The Nittany Lions will have an equally competitive match-up this year, but will be aided with home-field advantage. Terrelle Pryor is a quarterback with plenty of raw talent, but then again, he hasn’t faced a Beaver Stadium crowd yet.
Look for the “whiteout” to confuse Pryor early and cause some communication problems for the Buckeyes.
For Penn State to have a successful game, they need to start out strong on defense. Holding Ohio State to 10 or less points should almost guarantee a victory in State College this Saturday.
The offense will come together just fine as Penn State quarterback Daryll Clark becomes more comfortable and the game progresses, as prevalent in last weekend's game against Northwestern.
The game story this year, however, will depend heavily on Terrelle Pryor’s ability in a tough environment against a team that is focused on winning the Big Ten conference for the third time in five years.
- Penn State has got the better quarterback, senior Daryll Clark, who knows what it’s like to win in big-game situations—as opposed to Ohio State's Pryor, who seems to have declined in ability from freshman to sophomore year.
- The best defense in the land belongs to the Lions. Enough said.
- Statistics. Penn State is nationally fourth in penalty yards/game, fifth in total yards allowed/game, fifth in rushing yards allowed/game, first in points allowed/game, and leads the Big Ten in nearly every offensive category.
- Home sweet home. The Nittany Lions rarely lose at home. Before this year’s meltdown against the Hawkeyes, the last Beaver Stadium loss came in October 2007 against… Ohio State.
- A great game lies ahead. Stay tuned.
- Terrelle Pryor is good. Despite some setbacks and questionable decisions on his part, the Ohio State quarterback is a game-changer. He’s got the skills to turn the game in his favor at any point.
- Momentum. Ohio State has a combined 83-7 score the past two games after a devastating loss at Purdue.
- Their defense is good, too. The Buckeyes have shut out three opponents this year.
- Penn State has never beaten Ohio State in consecutive years.
My Prediction: Penn State 20, Ohio State 10
For an Creature vs. Creature Ohio State perspective on the matchup, see Ohio State columnist Tim Bielik's article here.