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Buckeye CommentarySenior Analyst IOctober 25, 2008

Sean and Cassius answered the bell in my moment of need. While some of you think this blog is dying and at least one of you only uses it for the links, I would like to appeal to your understanding side and assure you this blog is not dying. In fact, there are some exciting prospects on the horizon.

Sean used the usual format.

1) Ohio State Run Offense vs. PSU

All Beanie, all the time is what will make or break this game. With Pryor still being held back a bit from passing (14 Attempts/game says it all), this will be the primary focus, as it should be. Beanie and Pryor combining their efforts will determine the early stages of the game, along with how the offensive line fares against Penn State's D-line. Last week showed that the O-Line can certainly get it done, but it's the first time we've seen it all year, and the chance to slip back is certainly there.

Penn State's Defensive Line is solid, but the strength is on the ends. Aaron Maybin is fast but not overly big. If the O-Line can get to the second level of the defense, Beanie should have a huge day between the tackles.

2) Ohio State Pass Offense vs. PSU

As previously mentioned, the leash has yet to be loosened when it comes to the passing game for Pryor. With last week's game virtually at hand by halftime, there was little need for Terrelle to air the ball out, even though he did complete the deep ball to Hartline that could very well have been intercepted. However, Penn State's secondary is not great and has not truly been tested yet this season. Scirrotto is slated to be ready to play this week, but he doesn't seem to be 100 percent. The corners aren't great, but they aren't terrible either. Pryor seems to be the most comfortable when he's on the move when looking to pass, so setting up some bootlegs for him, especially on play-action, would be the best way to utilize the times he has to pass.

3) Penn State Pass Offense vs. OSU

Daryll Clark has provided the stability that Penn State has been missing the past couple of years at quarterback. Anthony Morelli was more-or-less a liability than an asset, so Penn State fans have enjoyed watching a quarterback who is actually capable of running an offense. He's been very efficient, completing 63 percent of his passes for just over 1500 yards. He has soaked up Penn State's "Spread HD" offense and run with it, avoiding major mistakes (11 TD to 2 INT) at all costs and leading Penn State thus far to their impressive record.

However, he has not faced a defense as good as the Silver Bullets. The Bucks have given up an average of only 13.4 points per game and, removing the USC debacle from that stat, shrinks the number down to just a shade over 10 points per game. The more important stats, though, comes in yardage. Ohio State ranks 10th in Overall Defense in the NCAA (265.5 YPG) whereas the next best defense is Wisconsin (328.7 YPG), and there's an even bigger drop off after that. The Buckeyes secondary has played very well the last couple of games, though. This is a challenge for the secondary, as they will have to limit the big plays that the Penn State Offense can supply in the air. Shutting down the trio of Williams, Butler, and Norwood, will not be an easy task.

4) Penn State Rush Offense vs. OSU

Evan Royster has exploded onto the scene this year, running for 893 yards in just 116 carries, giving him an impressive average of 7.7 yards per carry. However, the defenses he has faced have not been very good at stopping the run, having only faced one team in the NCAA Top 50 in Rush Defense (Michigan - 40th), so this will be a true test for Royster to see just how good he and the offensive line for the Nittany Lions are. The Bucks front seven will be tested and will have to play disciplined football if they want to stop the "Spread HD", especially against the run. Also, keep in mind that the backup running back, Stephfon Green, as well as Daryll Clark himself, are all threats to run.

5) Special Teams

Penn State has Derrick Williams to lean on when it comes to kick and punt returns. He's already returned three for touchdowns and is averaging 32.2 yards per kick return and 10.3 per punt return. On the flip side, Ohio State's return game hasn't been as good. Save for Ray Small's one TD return for a TD, the return game hasn't been that great.

Kicking edge will go to Ohio State, as AJ Trapasso, while not truly needed last week, has shown his power in the past few weeks. He is averaging 43 yards per kick. Pretorius his 13/17 on his kicks for the year, while Penn State's Kevin Kelly is 12/14, including two from 50+.

6) Imbue yourself with unearned confidence if:

  • Beanie Wells runs for 150 yards.
  • The defense holds Royster to under 100 yards rushing.
  • Daryll Clark gets rattled on the road.

7) Become unnecessarily upset with amateur athletics if:

  • The defense cannot stop the "Spread HD"
  • Royster gets anywhere close to his average yards per carry
  • If Penn State gets up early

Three possibilities for me to look stupid:

  • Pryor has a breakout game and passes for over 200 yards
  • Beanie runs for under 100 yards and the Buckeyes are winning at any point.
  • The offensive line handles the Penn State front seven.

9) Prediction

Penn State is a big fat goose-egg for seven since joining the Big Ten when it comes to playing the Buckeyes in The Shoe. Historically speaking, this bodes well for Ohio State. Even though Daryll Clark has shown he can play the QB position well, he has yet to do it in such a hostile environment, not to mention it will be far more hostile with it being a night game. While the past virtually means nothing, you can't get that stat out of your head: 0-7. While I don't predict the Terrelle Pryor coming out party that I'm waiting for, I do expect the Buckeyes to feed Penn State a daily-dose of Beanie Wells. It will be a slugfest, but I expect Ohio State to take it.

Ohio State - 27
Penn State – 21

Cassius took a slightly different, yet equally insightful approach

This game does not come down to individual match-ups like OSU's O-line vs. PSU's D-line. This is a big game, and big games are not won or lost by one match-up. Sure, the game may be "won" or "lost" in the trenches, but the team that emerges victorious from today's game will be the team that plays the best overall game. That being said here is my preview: There are three ways that I see this game playing out. Two of which could/will result in a victory for either team. The second one will most assuredly end in an Ohio State win, with a blowout a possibility. Its the prediction that I have the least confidence in.

1. Much like Michigan in ‘06 this game could turn into a good ol’ fashioned Pac-10 shootout if both of these high powered offenses get rolling. Simply put, when either of these offensive 11’s gets into some kind of rhythm I don’t think there’s a defense in the world that can stop them for maybe a series here or there. This is also the type of game where penalties can be killer and whoever gets into the most 1st and 15s or 1st and 20s could very well end up on the wrong side of the scoreboard, as neither team likes to pass very much. (I'm looking at you O-line, seniors committing false starts? Unforgivable in Saturday's game) That being said, if tonight's game turns this way, either team could come out victorious and there’s really no way of saying who will.

2. Seeing as how this is the best defense PSU will face all year (with the exception of their bowl game) OSU’s D could shut them down, or at least limit them under the obscene points averages they’ve been putting up all year. If this is the case look for OSU to win by some score like 21-10 or 21-13. If things go extremely well (or extremely bad if you're a Penn State fan) look for a score like 35-7 or 28-7.

3. OSU’s defense could step up under the lights and limit PSU’s offense to some meager yards and limited points while our offense struggles under the pressures of playing at night in primetime in front of 105,000 fans who would go crazy at the first sight of a red-zone field goal. This scenario would end in a score like 10-7 or 7-3, with either side winning.

Overall, I look for LeBron in Cleats to really shine under the spotlight like he did through the football and basketball seasons in Pennsylvania last winter/fall. It may not result in an Ohio State victory, but much like the Wisconsin game, with his team down by 7 and staring elimination from the Big 10 crown in the face, look for Terrelle Pryor to show why he was the number 1 recruit out of Jeanette and why he may go on to become the greatest football player Ohio State or the nation has ever seen.

Maybe I may have had a little too much of that Scarlet Kool-Aid tonight, but IMHO, I look for the game to finish like this:

OSU- 21
PSU- 17


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