The Buckeyes enter the game against division rival Penn State undefeated and still clinging to the number one ranking by a slim margin. The two quarterback system yielded much success against Maryland last Saturday. J.T. Barret looked masterful in the red zone, but will the Buckeyes deploy the same strategy against the Nittany Lions (5-1 Overall, 2-0 Conference). The Buckeye offense scored on all six trips to the red zone against the Terrapins. On Monday, Coach Urban Meyer confirmed Cardale Jones is still the starter until proved otherwise. However, the Buckeyes will be unveiling something new when the take the field on Saturday. Perhaps taking a page out of Penn State’s “white out” book, Ohio State will sporting all black jerseys in an attempt to “black out” the Horseshoe.
The Nittany Lions lone loss was to Temple in the season opener, a debacle which led to 10 sacks of quarterback and potential top 10 NFL Draft pick, Christian Hackenberg. Ohio State will look to get pressure of the edge with NFL bound ends Joey Bosa and Aldophus Washington. Since the Temple game, Hackenberg has taken 9 sacks and hasn’t played the best of football. He has only thrown for over 60% once this season. The offense has run through the ground game, running back Akeel Lynch has looked impressive at times but is questionable for this Saturday. If ready he can make a big impact since it is no secret the Buckeyes have struggled against the run this season. The good news is that OSU will be able to pin their ears back in passing situations and not have worry about a scrambling quarterback (something they struggled with last week).
Ohio State tailback Ezekiel Elliot looks primed to continue his streak of 100 yard rushing performances against Penn State’s 38th ranked run defense, which only surrenders 117 yards per game. Elliot will have to rely on his offensive line to find holes and take the pressure off Cardale Jones.
Ultimately this game comes down to whether Ohio State gets hot early or spins the wheels. If the Buckeyes score as efficiently as they did last week, the Nittany Lions will be in trouble. My prediction for the game: Ohio State 45 Penn State 17.
Note: All Stats via ESPN.com