Penn State’s highly anticipated matchup against Ohio State in Columbus this weekend is approaching with plenty of enthusiasm as the Nittany Lions attempt to break a two-game losing skid in a big way. We have spent all season picking the opposing side to upset the Nittany Lions. This week, Penn State will be the underdog for the third time this season. The third time’s the charm, right?
But we’ll stick to the outcome most seem to be expecting first, which is Ohio State handing Penn State a third consecutive loss to put a pin on an October to forget in Happy Valley. Here are the top five reasons why Ohio State will beat Penn State this weekend.
Buckeyes have (healthy) QB advantage
Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch-USA TODAY NETWORK
CJ Stroud is hot right now and is still currently in the Heisman race. He had a slow start to the season but has really turned it on these past few games. Sean Clifford has more experience, but he also didn’t play like himself last week against Illinois and there have been quite a few plays throughout the season where he made some careless mistakes and struggled to get rid of the ball.
Penn State is under a new offensive coordinator in Mike Yurcich, and Clifford has still had a very productive season. Ohio State’s defense also isn’t as strong as they have been in recent years, but against an Illinois defense last week, Clifford struggled to get the ball moving. Even though Ohio State’s defense isn’t as strong as they usually are, there is a reason why the Buckeyes are the number five team in the country.
Penn State’s lack of a run game
AP Photo/Barry Reeger
Dan Orlovsky mentioned early in the Illinois game last week that if Penn State can’t get their run game going, they are going to have a tough time against the Ohio State defense, and he is 100% right. It’s not just this game, but the Nittany Lions have struggled to find any sort of rhythm in their run game all season. They mentioned last week that they wanted to get Keyvone Lee more involved in their offense, which they have. However, it hasn’t been enough to get the ball moving. Penn State is going to have to have a productive game on the ground, rather than rely on Clifford and their passing game for four quarters.
Ohio State Wide Receivers
Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
Penn State has Jahan Dotson, who is playing his way into getting drafted in the first two rounds. But, the Buckeyes have two receivers with the talent to be selected in the first round in April. Chris Olave made the shocking decision to return to Ohio State, and he has still had a productive season, with 518 yards and eight touchdowns. Penn State has a strong secondary, but they are going to have to worry about more than just one receiver for the Buckeyes. Their top receiver right now is Garett Wilson, who has shared the spotlight with Olave all season but is the team’s top receiver, with 605 yards and six touchdowns. With a strong Penn State secondary, this will be their toughest test yet.
Ohio State’s rushing attack too difficult to slow down
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Losing PJ Mustipher for the season was huge, and it showed last week, as Penn State gave up 357 total yards rushing, and 223 of those yards to Illinois running back Chase Brown. Ohio State’s starting running back, Treveyon Henderson, is having an impressive freshman season with the Buckeyes. He currently has 693 yards and 11 touchdowns. He is an elusive back with quick speed. Penn State had a difficult time stooping Brown last week, and Henderson will be an even tougher test for the Nittany Lions run defense, who has dealt with injuries over the course of the season.
Penn State’s Lopsided Offense
Byron Houlgrave-USA TODAY Sports
As mentioned, Penn State has had a productive passing game this season. Sure, it could be better, but they have at least been good enough to some points on the board. The run game hasn’t done anything all season, and with the production of the passing game, it won’t be enough for the Nittany Lions to pull off the upset. Their defense has been nothing short of impressive this year and we have seen multiple guys like Brandon Smith and Ji’Ayir Brown show out this season. However, they are playing Ohio State, a team that has been red hot the past few games, and this can’t be a game where they rely on the defense to keep them in this game.
Penn State will have their work cut out for them on Saturday. Ohio State is currently the number five team ranked team in the country looking to punch their ticket into the College Football Playoff as the season winds down. Many expect the Buckeyes to win this game in fashion. Penn State will still give Ohio State a run for their money, but it will be tough for them to overcome their toughest matchup yet.