Throughout the 103 years of its existence, the Big Ten Conference has never seen a team win three straight titles. Ohio State has their chance now. The only thing standing between them and that honor? You guessed it, the third-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions.
But don’t rule out the Buckeyes just yet however, they’ve improved much since their loss to USC in Los Angeles, and they are ready for business when it comes to Saturday’s at home night game.
Historically, the Buckeye’s should have it in the bag. Penn State is 0-7 in The Shoe since 1993. In those seven wins, Ohio State has out-scored Penn State 197-44. But, if the Buckeyes are going to pull it off this weekend, they’ll need a lot more than history on their side.
Because these two teams have the top two defenses in their conference, both will have to rely heavily on their offenses, which up until last week’s game against the Spartans, didn’t look like a good thing for Ohio State.
However, Beanie is officially back. Wells rushed for 140 yards over 31 carries, his most since returning from injury and tied for 20th most runs in Division I this season.
Wells is also characteristically a “Big Game Player”. In the past two seasons, Wells has seen seven ranked teams and he averages 25.1 carries, 152 yards, 6.0 yards per carry and has nine total touchdowns.
These numbers are all greater than his record against unranked teams. Beanie should perform well against Penn State this weekend and he seems to be for the challenge.
Terrelle Pryor has also stepped up to the plate and shown improvement in the last few games, most notably the game against Michigan State. Undoubtedly, everyone has already heard that Pryor told coach Jim Tressel before last weekend’s game that if he didn’t play well, he should be benched. Well, that wasn’t necessary.
Pryor was 7-11 for 116 yards and one touchdown pass, his sixth of the season. He averaged 10.5 yards per attempt and kept the ball away from the hands of the Spartan defense.
On the ground Pryor was just as affective. The freshman quarterback averaged six yards per carry and started off the game with a rushing touchdown early in the first quarter.
The offense has looked strong in the last two games as far as the turnover margin is concerned. In their last two games against MSU and Purdue, Ohio State has recovered four fumbles and three interceptions, while not giving up a single fumble or interception. As well, the Buckeyes have averaged 16 first downs in these two games.
Ohio State’s red-zone conversion was also immensely improved at Michigan State. They were 5-5 in the red zone with four touchdowns and one field goal. That 80% touchdown red-zone conversion is much improved over their previous season-average of 40.95% conversion.
On defense, senior Malcolm Jenkins has also been a difference maker. With nine tackles, a forced fumble, a sack of eight yards and 10 tackle-for-loss yards, Jenkins made up a large part of the defense against Michigan State.
Similarly, the week before, Jenkin’s punt block allowed for Ohio State’s only touchdown against Purdue.
All in all, this Buckeye team is a much stronger team than we’ve seen all season, proving that the game against Penn State is sure to be a great one. The Buckeye’s are looking at a strong chance of becoming the first Big Ten team to three consecutive Big Ten Titles.
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