Creature Vs Creature: How Ohio State Can Exact Revenge On Nittany Lions
As part of the famous Creature vs Creature series, it's time to take things into State College, Pennsylvania as Ohio State faces off against Penn State in a Big Ten game with title implications.
Many believed that this matchup would be the de facto Big Ten title game at the start of this season. But Iowa and Purdue had other plans, beating Penn State and Ohio State respectively and taking away a perfect conference record in stunning fashions.
Now these teams meet up in Happy Valley after Penn State stunned the Buckeyes in a hard-fought defensive classic in the 'Shoe, 13-6.
Terrelle Pryor had his best passing game of his career to that point, but he will be remembered most for the fumble that led to the only touchdown of the game on QB Pat Devlin's QB sneak.
Since then, Penn State has been praising Pryor for making his choice to come to Ohio State and even created t-shirts to commemorate last year's win.
However, the shirts were recalled after the student marketing association of Penn State dealt with a media firestorm. They later stated that it was not meant to be an attack on Pryor.
Conversely, Buckeyes' fans who thought Pryor would not play in Saturday's big showdown had to get chills from what he said to the media on Wednesday.
"You're gonna have to kill me not to play," Pryor joked to the media on Wednesday.
Clearly, there is no lack of hype in this matchup.
But the Buckeyes need to step and rebound from a crippling loss last season, and here are four keys that will help them do just that:
1.) Embrace the hate
Since the loss last season, Penn State fans have reveled in images of Pryor crying on the sidelines and celebrating in the Horseshoe.
Ohio State has had to hear this for a whole year, along with the criticism (mostly warranted) of Pryor needing to perform better in pressure situations.
They have heard all of this, and many feel this year's team has the attitude of "enough is enough." This has been what the team has heard for years, and a win in Happy Valley would go a long way towards gaining a small amount of respect.
But it will have to be earned, and though they are underdogs, they have all the motivation in the world to get the revenge.
2.) Loosen up the Penn State defense with play action
It's no secret that every defense is not giving the Buckeyes' offense much respect in the deep passing game, bringing basically all 11 defenders within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage.
Pryor can throw those passes, but he needs a little help from the playcalling, and it would help if the offense could run more play action passing.
Those types of plays are known to loosen defenses up, and that can help if Pryor wants to run the ball to the outside.
Ohio State has the horses in the receiving corps in Dane Sanzenbacher, DeVier Posey, and Ray Small. If he can get them the ball, Penn State could have a tough time containing the offense.
3.) Get to Daryll Clark early and often
Daryll Clark took the Big Ten by storm last season, leading the Spread HD to the Rose Bowl.
But like most quarterbacks, he is susceptible to pressure from the blitz, and the Buckeyes' front four is more than capable of doing that.
If Ohio State can crank up the blitz in the first few series and slow down RB Evan Royster in the running game, they could force turnovers with an opportunistic back seven anchored by MLB Brian Rolle and S Kurt Coleman.
A one-dimensional Penn State offense could play very well in the Buckeyes' favor.
4.) Special teams must create opportunities
With K Aaron Pettrey out for the season, former MLS kicker Devin Barclay will be in charge of the kicking duties along with P Jon Thoma.
And especially with Jim Tressel's focus on special teams, they will need to take advantage of field position from the early moments.
Talented returners Ray Small, Brandon Saine, and Lamaar Thomas will be critical to taking the field away from Penn State.
Plus it is much easier to score when the offense is 60 yards from the end zone than from 80 yards out. A more aggressive variant of Tresselball where getting touchdowns off of great field position would be very ideal for a matchup of such good defenses.
In addition, here is a look at some important matchups in the game.
Matchup that could haunt the Buckeyes
Ohio State interior offensive linemen vs Penn State DT Jared Odrick
Ohio State has not had much success on the offensive line this season with numerous injuries and chemistry issues.
The unit will get no respite this Saturday, as interior linemen Justin Boren, Mike Brewster, and Bryant Browning will have their hands full with stud DT Jared Odrick.
The big powerful DT will look to cause some disruption and open up the field for LB Navorro Bowman, Sean Lee, and Josh Hull.
If they do, Penn State will have their way with Ohio State's running game.
Matchup that Ohio State can take advantage of
Ohio State's DEs Thaddeus Gibson, Cameron Heyward, and Nathan Williams vs Penn State T Dennis Landolt and Ako Poti
Penn State's offensive line has been a target for early criticism, but they have improved so much throughout the season.
But Ohio State has one of the best defensive lines in America anchored by two potential early draft picks in Thaddeus Gibson and Cameron Heyward, both very active in the pass rush.
And the first man off the bench for the Buckeyes at DE, sophomore Nathan Williams, has an excellent motor, and he could start for many teams in the country.
With the type of talent the Buckeyes bring off the sidelines on the defensive line, Penn State will have a tough time keeping them from getting into the backfield.
Ohio State comes into a Whiteout at Happy Valley with a ton of emotion, and Pryor will be back in Pennsylvania for the first time in his collegiate career.
Both teams will be playing for their Rose Bowl lives, but Buckeye motivation propels the team to a hard-fought win.
Ohio State 24 - Penn State 20
For the Penn State perspective on CvC, here's Penn State Featured Columnist Brandon Seitz's post .
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