Meet Ohio State’s upcoming opponent: They are Penn State…which they will occasionally remind you. The Nittany Lions first ever game against a current Big Ten team was their 1912 matchup with the Buckeyes, and OSU has gone 15-13 against them since that time. This season Penn State is 4-2 overall, and 1-1 in the Big Ten.
Their offense is led by junior wide receiver Allen Robinson, whom CBS and Phil Steele named a mid-season Second-Team All American. He leads the Big Ten, and is 15th in the nation, with an average of 7.2 receptions a game. Each of those catches covers an average of 16.4 yards.
The bad news for Ohio State fans who are still having nightmares about a tight end scoring an 85-yard touchdown against them last week is that Penn State also uses the tight end well. Jesse James and Kyle Carter both are in double digits when it comes to their catches.
Of course, throwing to all of the team’s targets is true freshman Christian Hackenberg. He already owns the record for pass attempts in a single game by a Penn State quarterback. He threw it 55 times against Indiana. He’s 17th nationally in passing yards a game. Despite his youth, he’s only thrown 6 interceptions. Four of his eleven touchdown passes were strikes of 45 yards or more. In short, he’s pretty impressive.
The Nittany Lions turn to the tandem of Zach Zwinak, who’s a physical back, and Bill Belton when they run the ball. However, they are 79th nationally in rushing offense, and this might be the reason they struggle on third down, converting only 27.8 percent of the time. Only 7 teams in the country struggle more in that category.
When it comes to the other side of the ball, Penn State gives up a mere 335.8 yards a contest, and they are 17th nationally in total defense.
Glen Carson leads the team in tackles, but DaQuan Jones is the disruptive force who can really make you pay with a tackle-for-loss. He has 8.5 of those already. CJ Olaniyan is another player capable of getting into the opposition’s backfield.
Meanwhile, Adrian Amos might be the Lions version of Bradley Roby: a veteran defensive back, who maybe hasn’t quite lived up to expectations of him this year. However, the Nittany Lions have still only given up 8 passing touchdowns while recording 7 interceptions.
Finally, kicker Sam Ficken is 11/15 with a long of 54 yards. That’s the fourth longest kick in school history.
This will be the fifth time the Buckeyes have played a night game against Penn State since 2005. The Nittany Lions are coming off a bye week, and they are 15-9 after a bye week since joining the Big Ten in 1993.