The Lion, The JoePa, and The Horseshoe--Penn State Vs Ohio State

Andrew GlennContributor IOctober 23, 2008

In an interview in January, Jay Paterno, quarterback coach of Penn State Nittany Lions said that becoming a head coach isn’t at the top of his list, even at Penn State, though ‘‘obviously, if that were to happen, I would have to prove myself.’’ Jay Paterno is proving himself this year.

In the beginning of the football season, [the younger] Paterno introduced the Spread HD offense that had college coaches say "huh".

However, Paterno and the Nittany Lions have proven that the Spread HD attack is as effective as the the year starting quarterback Michael Robinson used in 2005.

2005 was a memorable year for Joe Paterno and his Nittany Lions. After coming off back-to-back losing seasons, finishing 3-9 in 2003 and 4-7 in 2004, Penn State, with their dual-threat quarterback Michael Robinson and star linebacker Paul Poluszny knew that another losing season was unacceptable.

Penn State finished 11-1 (7-1 Big Ten) and won a triple overtime thriller 26-23 against the Florida State Seminoles in the Orange Bowl. In that year, the then # 18 Penn State faced a dangerous #6 Ohio State team in Beaver Staduim.

However, over the past years, the story is a lot different in Columbus, Ohio.

Penn State has had its share difficulties against Ohio State in the Horseshoe. The Nittany Lions have had a total of five touchdowns in the Horseshoe since 1993. In addition, the Buckeyes have returned eight touchdowns by a combination of interception, fumble, and kick return. In those seven games, Penn State's 0-7 record haunts them.


This Saturday, the # 3 Nittany Lions (8-0, 4-0 Big Ten) face a strong #10 Ohio State defense, which is ranked second in the conference in total yardage (Penn State is first by two yards per game). In addition, Penn State will face a dangerous offense with freshman phenom Terrelle Pryor at quarterback and Maurice "Beanie" Wells as tailback.

Although Ohio State's high powered offense will be tested by Penn State, lets not count out the test Penn State's dangerous offense will put on the 4-3 defense of the Buckeyes.

Ohio State's is the 10th ranked defense when it comes total yardage. Surrendering only 97.1 yards per game and three touchdowns on the ground, Ohio State is going to have their hands full as they handle a Penn State offense that leads the Big Ten in rushing offense with 234.6 yards per game and a national-high 28 rushing scores. Penn State also averages 5.8 yards per carry.

Ohio State's defense surrounding James Laurinaitis and Marcus Freeman will get their taste of the Spread HD offense. With triple threat wideouts Derrick Williams, Deon Butler, and Jordan Norwood spreading Ohio State's 4-3 matchup, don't be surprised to see quarterback Daryll Clark going deep to Jordan Norwood. In Ohio State's 4-3 offense, chances are that Norwood will be matched up with a linebacker in most cases.

Although Ohio State is high powered, it does have it's flaws. Ohio State's defense only recorded three sacks for 25 yards loss, nine broken up passes, and no quarterback hurries. Also, the secondary is questionable only forcing four interceptions. If Clark and the rest of the Nittany Lions play mistake-free football, it could be a long night for the Ohio State defense.

With there being no other contender in the Big Ten, Saturday's game at 8 pm is the most anticipated game in the Big Ten crowning the leader of the conference with hopes to a bowl championship series game. If Penn State wins, their chances of a national championship becomes greater.


Prediction: Penn State 42-27