The Ohio State – Penn State Preview (Errday Errday Pick Six Errday)

osuHelmetOur long national nightmare has finally subsided.  The first BCS standings were released last Sunday, which is college football’s weekly gift of sports “informative murder porn.“  To no one’s surprise, our beloved Buckeyes were sitting outside of the top two. The cries of the carrots were coming from Eugene and premature congratulations were heard from Tallahassee.  There is a long way to go ladies and gentleman.  The meat of Orygun’s schedule is upcoming (UCLA, Stanford, and even Oregon State) and FSU still has North Carolina State (not kidding…FSU’s Bogey Team since like the Philip Rivers days)  and Florida on its docket of remaining games. In the default SHESH-SHEE-SHEE top spot, Alabama get’s its free pass for the year, when they have been an absolute hot mess on offense and a defense that doesnt really make you think Saban defense. I mean, come on now, the SEC has won the last 7 or 50 BCS Title Games, so Alabama has to be given a pass, when it has played a marginally better schedule than any of other contenders at this point.  (Btw…Nothing warms the cockles of my heart more than watching vaunted SEC defenses get shredded by a pass-happy B12 team that just joined the conference last year.  Which team am I talking about?  The answer is “yes.”)

I have been writing/blogging off and on within the Buckeye sports world since 2005 starting a little site named “Death Cab For Woody.”  You might remember it and probably hated it.  The site is still up, but was effectively “mothballed” and it has the feel of a geocities page.  There are many peeps that have been around longer (Ramzy, folks at the BBC, and a few others) and are most likely better (Almost Everybody).  I am just simple-folk living in the Emerald City for the last 7 years, so I can admit with the utmost confidence that I am probably a little out of touch with the Buckeye Nation.  Hell, I regularly tailgate at UDub Husky games on plenty of OSU gamedays…and sometimes…I dont even watch the games until after I get home from Husky Stadium (THE HORROR!!!).  I understand that this confession is nothing short of heresy, but I am also willing to admit that this distance between myself and Columbus affords me the opportunity to gain perspective.  This perspective has allowed me to enjoy every win of this streak and not worry about style points.  These style points are nonsense.  They simply provide narrative for media types that cant get out of there own way to layout double-standards between similar teams/schedules and make no attempt to hide their own personal bias when talking about teams or conferences.  Most of us Buckeyes have a favorite national media type that we loathe.  Whether it be Matt Hayes and his “Living With a Buckeye Series on Twitter” or Clay Travis and his ability to dumb down any topic so that his SEC followers will eat it up like a Stucky’s roadside pastry and wash it down with eleventy-billion gallons of sweet tea, this is why we love college football.  The “hate.”  Nothing is better than a good clean hate towards a team or media clown…or even an entire conference.  It is sweet music for your eyes to see the SEC take one on the chin last weekend and there are finally whispers of overrating the conference…FINALLY.  Dont fret though.  Within a week, we’ll get to see an article from Barrett Sallee or Tony Barnhart lavishing over the qualities of Kentucky Football and how it could finish in the top 3 of any other major conference in America.  Appreciate the hate.

Speaking of hate.  This is Penn State week, which means…ALL OF THE HATE

If you were to look back over the last few years of game preview posts at MotSaG, I have provided most of the PSU Game Previews.  One of my simple pleasures in life is to pretty much hate everything revolving around Pennsylvania State University.  One of the most overrated college experiences ever.  I visited Penn State for the OSU game in Happy Valley in 1995.  Basically, Penn State is a college in the middle of a cornfield, which is protected by the small town that only exists because of the college.  We have a bunch of those in Ohio (Ohio Northern, Bluffton College, Denison, Kenyon College).  The only cultivated culture that exists (or existed) was the holier than thou attitude that JoePa could do no wrong, the child rapey culture (well documented elsewhere), and some good ice cream (it isn’t Jeni’s). From OSU fans/alumni to the OSU Marching Band, most of us have either heard or experienced some type of stupidity on full display at Penn State.  Not to say that us OSU peeps are above such shenanigans, but we never claimed to be angels.  This is the problem though, Penn State fans have always leaned on JoePa’s way of doing things as the right way and somehow was able to claim some sort of second-hand infallibility when things were going right.  When Uncle Jerry’s secret was unleashed, JoePa was no longer doing things right…now Penn State looks just like the rest of us…a big time college football factory.

Onto the game…

I dont get wrapped up in the X’s and O’s of this game, because it generally isnt a chess match.  It is normally a game of two teams trading haymakers until the final whistle.  There seems to only be one constant.  There will be a pick six.  It is really just a matter of who makes it and when does it occur in the game.

Currently, Penn State sits at 4-2 and is in sole possession of 3rd place in the Leaders Division.  Penn State is not eligible for post-season play this year, based on its recently reduced Sandusky Scandal penalties from the NCAA.  This year is really about the development of its young quarterback Christian Hackenberg, who was able to win the starting job and has been able to pick up the college game very quickly, as a true freshman.  He is no Anthony Morelli and am pretty sure Penn State fans are ok with that statement.  Penn State’s wins have come at the expense of Syracuse, Eastern Michigan, Kent State, and Michigan (snatching defeat from the jaws of victory).  Its two losses have come at the hands of Indiana, which almost “hung a half-hundred on ’em” and #23 UCF.

Looking at those wins and losses, Penn State has its work cut out for it this Saturday evening in Columbus.

What to expect when Penn State has the ball:

Penn State will leverage a balanced pro-style attack with Belton and Zwinak providing a nice 1-2 punch at the tailback position, which is intended to open up the play-action game for Hackenberg.  Zwinak is a bull at 6’1″ 240 (very similar build to El Guapo) and the leading rusher for the team by a little over 20 yards (393 @ 4.3 avg/carry).  He has rushing 8TDs (of Penn State’s 13 total rushing TDs for the year).  Hackenberg is going to be a good one (Cmp% 58.4; 11 TDs; 6 INTs), but he is still a youngster with a lot to learn.  That being said, one thing to prepare yourself for in this game will be the broadcast team gushing over this kid.  A lot of it is justified, but just like every other Primetime ABC game, you’ll want to jab a pencil in your ear before halftime or try to find the radio comforts of the announcing “white noise” that is Paul Keels.  If PSU has any success, the ABC crew will be about shoulder deep in Hackenberg’s anal orifice by halftime.

Hackenberg’s main target will be Allen Robinson.  This guy is a stud.  He has 43 catches for 705 yards and 5 TDs.  Hopefully, Bradley Roby is well-rested after last week’s ejection.  The receiver with the second most catches on the year for Penn State (Brandon Felder) has 22 catches.  Hackenberg will definitely try to challenge Roby.  You would like to think that Roby would be up to the challenge.  Boy, I hope he is up for it, because Robinson will eat his lunch otherwise.  This game should be a nice little challenge for the secondary, which has been more than leaky this season on multiple occasions.

From an Ohio State perspective, it will be the typical focus on stopping the run, which means that the DBs will most likely play deeper in coverage to ensure that the over the top passes are not an option if/when we drop a safety into the box.  This will probably lead to those 5-7 yards passes (with a sprinkle of deeper balls to Robinson) from the Iowa game that were driving everyone crazy.  Ohio State should be able to handle the Penn State rushing attack, which will likely lessen the effectiveness of the play-action.  We always want Fickell and Co. to set Shazier free to blitz like a wild man, but it wouldnt surprise me if OSU doesnt blitz very much and plays conservative to stop the run and make Hackenberg beat them.  I also keep hoping that we will get pressure from the front four without blitzing (yays).

What to expect when OSU has the ball:

I’d expect a lot of the same as the other seven games this year.  Read-Option Penn State to death with a steady dose of Hyde and the occasional Braxton run or play-action pass.  Braxton looks completely healthy and is eluding people to buy more time with greater ease now then at the beginning of the season.  He was a machine in the against Iowa and the passing game looked quite solid.  I expect this continue in the friendly confines of the Horsehoe and will hopefully see more of Dontre Wilson out of the backfield on screens and swing passes.

Penn State is currently 17th in Total Defense in the NCAA giving 486 and 507 yards in its losses to Indiana and UCF respectively.  I just dont see OSU being stopped by the Penn State defense.  They may slow it down during parts of the game, but OSU should be able to leverage all of its weapons in the Shoe on Saturday night.


OSU 52
Penn State 24

Pick Six Prediction:

CJ Barnett (2nd Qtr)



  1. buckeyepastor says

    I don’t care so much about style points as I care about OSU putting together a game against a quality opponent where they execute well on both sides of the ball for four quarters. I want to see it not because it will impress the voters but because it’s the sort of effort that will be needed to win a championship game, and it would be really nice to see before January that this team is capable of that. We need FSU and Oregon to both lose. I know that November always tends to bring those upset losses, but I’m having a hard time seeing it from both of those schools. I think ‘Bama will lose a game at some point, but they are already inked in. Of FSU, Oregon, and ‘Bama, the Tide I think have looked the least dominant and complete as a unit, yet they are still firmly #1. Clearly, it would take more than one loss for voters to take them out of title contention.

    • It would obviously depend on the circumstances, but I just can’t see a one-loss Bama over 2 or 3 undefeated teams in the BCS Title Game. But if there are 3 undefeated teams and OSU is one of them, I don’t doubt they will get “passed over”.

  2. Pick Six University, one of the greatest happenstance acronyms of all time.

    Time to get Hackenberg familiar with his new found doom. I’ll take it from anyone, but I’d love to see Shazier do it two years in a row.

  3. I don’t remember if it was in the second quarter, but I distinctly remember Barnett not getting a handle on a perfectly set-up pick six.

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