What you need to know: Penn State V. Ohio State
Each week, we’ll tell you what to expect, what to keep an eye on, and when and where you can catch the Nittany Lions on fall Saturdays this season.
Need-To-Know Details: 8 p.m. kickoff, nationally televised on ABC. The game is a White Out, and you can follow the hashtags #PSUwhiteout and #BeatOSU to follow the conversation on social media.
Records: Penn State (4-2, 2-1 Big Ten), Ohio State (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten)
Venue: Beaver Stadium, where Penn State has won 10 of its last 11 games, dating back to the beginning of the 2015 season.
Weather Forecast (via AccuWeather): During the day, expect some sun with a couple of showers possible, with a high of 52 degrees; though by the time kickoff rolls around, it’ll be noticeably lower. Nighttime temperature is expected at around 37 degrees, though it’ll feel like 33.
The Overview: A few weeks ago, beating Ohio State seemed impossible. And while the Buckeyes are still a sizable favorite, anything can happen in a night game at Beaver Stadium. Just ask the team facing Penn State on Saturday. Two years ago, the Nittany Lions nearly pulled off an iconic upset, finally losing 31-24 in double overtime after two highly questionable calls hurt them. An Ohio State interception clearly hit the ground, and the Buckeyes kicked a field goal after time had expired on the play clock. After upending Minnesota and Maryland this month — via an impressive comeback and a workmanlike performance that fans used to routinely see during Penn State’s 10-plus win seasons — Penn State should be ready after its bye week. Beaver Stadium will be packed. The fans will be rowdy. And Penn State has Saquon Barkley. Given those three factors, anything can happen.
The Line: Penn State +19.5
All-Time Series: Ohio State leads 17-13.
Last Time They Met (2015): Ohio State earned a 38-10 win in Columbus.
Penn State Wins If: The defense or special teams (together) make two game-changing plays. In a game like this, just one play that seesaws momentum might not be enough — for example, Anthony Zettel’s pick-6 that completely changed the game at Beaver Stadium two years ago. But you have two plays like that, and your odds of winning significantly increase.
Ohio State Wins If: The Buckeyes take the crowd out of it early. Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer has stated that Beaver Stadium is one of the loudest venues he’s coached in during his career. And opposing players voted Penn State’s home turf as the toughest venue in the Big Ten in a pre-season poll. If Ohio State can cancel out the fans early and often, then the Buckeyes take away one of the biggest advantages that Penn State will have.
Count On: The type of atmosphere that reminds you that Penn State could be on the cusp of something remarkable. Chances are that Penn State won’t seriously contend for a Big Ten championship this season or next. But the Nittany Lions have a program where it’s possible any given year, when you consider the resources, talent, home stadium, etc. For example, nobody (not even the most staunch fans) expect Maryland, Indiana or Rutgers to win 10-plus games in a season anytime soon, if ever. But that can happen at Penn State anytime, if enough circumstances go the Nittany Lions’ way. Maybe Penn State won’t win Saturday, but the vibe should remind everyone that if they do, it’s not a fluke.
Keep An Eye On: Penn State’s John Reid. The sophomore whiz kid has been a standout cornerback, though look for him to possibly electrify the crowd in his other role — punt returner. Reid has nearly broken a few punts for a touchdown this season, and it seems like it’s almost inevitable that he’ll return one all the way this year. If he does it Saturday, it could boost Penn State to an upset victory.
Trivia Tidbit of The Week: This is the fifth consecutive year that Penn State and Ohio State have played in primetime to a nationally televised audience. Through the wins, losses, and everything else that’s transpired the last few seasons, that should tell you as much as anything that the Nittany Lions remain a national draw. Though of course, you already knew that last part.
Saquon Barkley record book watch: Barkley recorded his first 200-plus rushing yard effort against Maryland, finishing with 202. That allowed him to catapult six spots on the career list at Penn State, as the sophomore now ranks 22nd all-time with 1,658 career rushing yards.
**Season Record: 5-1
**Season Record Against the Spread: 3-2-1
Prediction: Ohio State 41, Penn State 23
**HappyValley.com season predictions