Preview: #2 Penn State (7-0, BIG 4-0) vs #6 Ohio State (6-1, BIG 4-0)

With a little over 24 hours until the gameday, the anticipation is unbearable.  This highly anticipated clash between two Top 6 BIG teams that are both fighting for a spot in this seasons CFB Playoffs.  A season ago, the higher ranked Buckeyes slept on the Nittany Lions during a White Out and they ended up losing after a FG was returned for a TD.

Black Out at the Shoe

This year Ohio State will host Penn State in another Blackout at the Shoe game that will feature new uniforms for the Buckeyes.  They will be sporting an all gray uniforms that will impress even the most close-minded, traditionalist fans who always seem to complain.

This uniform combination will display the Buckeyes staff willingness to venture outside of the traditional Scarlet and Gray to impress the nation and any recruiting targets that will tune in or be present at the game itself.  This will provide a unique and electric atmosphere that could sway the momentum in the Buckeyes favor because last season they lost at Penn State during a White Out.  The Buckeyes will use this new found swag in their favor to avenge their defeat from a season ago.

Battle of the Dual Threats

J.T. Barrett and Trace McSorley will be leaned on heavily during the entirety of this clash.  Both have the improved as the season progressed and both have the same tools to will their teams to a victory.

J.T. Barrett has improved a lot since the blunder against Oklahoma.  Although it was mostly against inferior teams the Buckeyes high-powered offense is tied for the lead with UCF in scoring offense averaging 47.3 PPG with 44 total TD’s so far this season.  This Buckeye offense will be the toughest challenge for the Nittany Lions this season.  The playmakers are making timely, high impact plays and Barrett is playing at a high, concentrated level, but he will have difficulties against the nations top ranked defense that is giving up 9.6 PPG.

Trace McSorley also has a Top 20 ranked offense coming in at 17th in the nation averaging 40.0 PPG.  They have weapons at every level which will make it interesting to watch.  McSorley has to establish himself early against the inconsistent and often penalized Cornerbacks that Ohio State starts.  Ohio State ranks as the 10th best defense and is giving up 15.4 PPG.

BIA/Linebackers/Rushmen vs Barkley/Gesicki/Hamilton

Ohio State will have their hands full this weekend at every level on defense.  Penn State has by far the most talented offense that is similar to Oklahoma but they have an effective running game with weapons at every level.

McSorley has Saquon Barkley at RB, Daesean Hamilton and a bunch of talent at WR and Mike Gesicki at the TE position.  Combined they make up a formidable offense that could give the Buckeyes trouble early and possibly even often.  Each level have a playmaker and another that is almost as effective as the last.

The Buckeyes must make it a priority to play disciplined and error free to leave victorious.  To do that they must not fall for the misdirection and fakes that Penn State has in their playbook.  They must also bottle up Barkley who is their do it all playmaking back that has Penn State faithful thinking Heisman and eventually a Championship.  Barkely has 1,930 yards combining his one pass, receiving and rushing with 12 total TD’s.

After that the combination of Gesicki and Hamilton scares me a tad bit more that Barkley.  Together they account for 709 yards and 8 touchdowns and that isn’t including Johnson and Blackalls contributions at receiver.

On the Buckeyes side of things, the glaring weakness for Penn State is their Offensive Line which plays into their strength their Rushmen package.  Paired with the Linebackers and Big Play Baker, the Buckeyes could dominate if they control the trenches on defense.  It will not be easy because of McSorley’s ability to run, but it is attainable.

BIA will be challenged in this game until the final whistle blows.  The collection of receivers that the Buckeyes will face poses a threat to them due to their inconsistency and their habit of earning holding and pass interference penalties.

Special Teams Blunders

Special Teams will have a huge chip on their shoulders after last seasons unexpected loss to Penn State.  The recurring storyline for Ohio State is their lack of success or consistency in the Special Teams department, which is coincidentally Urban Meyers specialty.

This season, they have struggled mightily as they limp into this game.  With a combination of giving up big returns to missed or blocked FG’s Penn State could hurt the Buckeyes with Barkley in this phase of the game.

Coach Meyer must be laser focused and the team needs to perform for this phase to avoid another last minute blocked FG.  The importance of this game will not overlook the issues that have plagued the Buckeyes this season and with that, Meyer will look to excel at this phase and all other phases of the game to leave with another win.

Prediction

I personally want to see a blowout win for the Buckeyes but I cannot overlook Penn State because of the many weapons that they possess on both sides of the ball.  This will be another slow burn game that will develop over time.

I believe balance will be the key and Dobbins and Weber will be needed to establish the run while Barrett makes the passes necessary to move the ball into scoring positions.  Barrett will be harassed and the right side will be tested once again.  Prince and Knox will be tested because they were targeted a lot because of their inability to protect Barrett.

Final:  38-31 Buckeyes

 

 

 

 

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