Game Ten: Penn State Nittany Lions
Location: Beaver Stadium (State College, PA) 3:30PM EST, ABC
Head Coach: Joe Paterno
Penn State Players Who Were Recruited By Ohio State: CB A.J. Wallace, QB Kevin Newsome, LB Navorro Bowman, FB Michael Zordich, LB Chris Colasanti, DE Devon Still. Other Penn State players who either had interest in Ohio State or Ohio State had shown interest in are S Andrew Dailey, QB Daryll Clark, and RB Brandon Beachum (all three are Ohio natives). A special good luck for WR Ryan Scherer from my hometown of Avon Lake, OH.
When Penn State Is On Offense ~ Penn State's offense is built around the talents of senior QB Daryll Clark. Clark is a solid 6'2", 232 lbs. quarterback with the versatility to run the ball as well as effectively throw it.
Penn State has relied upon RB Evan Royster to spearhead its running game, while being complimented by other players such as Brandon Beachum and the sometimes-injured Stephfon Green. Daryll Clark's talents as a runner allow Penn State the ability to use Clark for called quarterback runs in short yardage situations, when Penn State can bring in multiple wideouts to spread the field and allow Clark room to gain yards.
Penn State has been able to use WRs Derek Moye, Chaz Powell, and Graham Zug to offset the loss of talented players to graduation and/or the NFL. Another dependable receiving option for Clark is TE Andrew Quarless, who is a typical mismatch defensively when the opposition tries to cover him with a linebacker.
Penn State's offensive line lost three starters from last year's team, and this is where Ohio State needs to capitalize in this match-up. Ohio State's defensive line is probably the strength of Ohio State's overall team, and Ohio State needs to focus on shutting down Penn State's run game while also forcing QB Daryll Clark into mistakes in order for Ohio State to win this game.
The key match-up will be to see how Penn State OLT Dennis Landolt handles Ohio State DE Thaddeus Gibson. Ohio State likes to move Gibson around, so another Ohio State defender to watch will be DE Nathan Williams.
When Ohio State Is On Offense ~ Ohio State's offense is a snapshot of inconsistency and incoherence. Similar to QB Daryll Clark, Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor is also the linchpin of the offense, yet there seems to be a grab-bag approach week in and week out as to how Ohio State will function offensively.
Ohio State's RB corps does not have a solid down after down, play after play, running back. The starting RB, Brandon Saine, played poorly last week against New Mexico State when given opportunities. True freshman RB Jordan Hall has impressed me with his quickness and intensity; I hope to see Hall get the ball against Penn State.
Unfortunately for Ohio State's maligned offensive line, they are going up against arguably the best defensive team they have faced all season. Penn State's Jared Odrick and Jack London could cause fits for Ohio State.
If I was Ohio State's Jim Tressel, I would spread out Penn State with multiple wide receivers, forcing them to play single coverage on Ohio State's wide receivers. This will force Penn State to play more conservatively defensively than they would prefer, while also allowing QB Terrelle Pryor the option of running the ball for positive yardage at the onset of virtually every snap of the ball. This will also relieve some strain on Ohio State's inconsistent offensive line.
While Penn State's defensive line and linebackers are excellent, the weakest part of Penn State's defensive unit is the secondary. Again, by forcing Penn State into playing man-on-man coverage, this helps Ohio State to gain the advantage in this chess match-up.
Special Teams: Ohio State lost its starting placekicker Aaron Pettrey to injury, leaving relatively inexperienced Devin Barclay as Ohio State's best option for field goals as well as kickoffs. Penn State's Collin Wagner is a dependable short-yardage kicker but not a long-ball kicker.
Penn State has the advantage for punting with Jeremy Boone, who averages 40 plus yards on his punts. Ohio State's Jon Thoma seems to have a rough spot lately, so I would give the advantage to Penn State in this area, especially due to Pettrey's injury and Barclay's inexperience.
Intangibles: Penn State's Beaver Stadium is traditionally one of the rowdiest and toughest places to play. Considering this is an opportunity for Penn State to reassert itself in The Big Ten conference race, how Terrelle Pryor spurned Penn State for Ohio State two years ago, I have no doubt the Penn State fans will be fired up in support of their squad against the Buckeyes. Penn State has won 31 of its last 34 home games.
Prediction: I want to pick Ohio State badly, as Ohio State needs this win desperately to regain some semblance of respect of being able to beat a top team in the eyes of the national media. The lack of offensive consistency in every area just will not allow me to do it.
I think this one will be low scoring, as both defenses will force both teams to earn every yard they can get. I think the Penn State home crowd will be enough to push Penn State over the top. I am saying Penn State 14, Ohio State 10.