Saturday's game is a biggie, and the hype surrounding it has been somewhat refreshing to see. Considering what Penn State has gone through over the last calendar year, this weekend will serve as an opportunity to show just how far everyone has come.
There is no postseason future on the line with this game, but a division championship is still something to take pride in. The winner of this weekend's Penn State-Ohio State game will become the team to beat in the Leaders Division race, sitting on top of the standings as the last Big Ten team without a conference loss in the division.
Check out our weekly staff picks to see how we feel about this weekend's game, and feel free to comment with your thoughts below.
Marty Valania: Well, here come the big, bad and undefeated Buckeyes. If these teams played a month ago, there is no way I would have picked Penn State to win. But the Nittany Lions have improved dramatically in the last month. They get noticeably better each week. In fact, the jump from Northwestern to Iowa was significant. I’m sure the bye week had something to do with that.
If Penn State can upgrade its game once again this week, then they will have every opportunity to win Saturday night.
Obviously, Ohio State is very good. Braxton Miller is exceptional. I do not believe his injury last week will hamper him at all. He was cleared to practice right away. He’ll be fine and he’ll be ready. The Buckeyes will move the ball but they won’t score at will against this Penn State defense.
The Buckeyes’ defense hasn’t been great though. They’ve given up an unusual number of points. Urban Meyer acknowledged his team has trouble against spread offenses.
The problem is, Matt McGloin will never be confused for a spread quarterback. Nevertheless, McGloin has been solid all year. I also have confidence that Bill O’Brien will come up with a plan to expose what weaknesses that Buckeye defense has.
Penn State opened the week as a 3-point underdog and was immediately moved to a slight favorite. Right now, the game is basically a pick’em.
It should be a fun night, great atmosphere and a tight game. Field goals normally decide tight games. That wouldn’t be in Penn State’s favor. However, games can also be decided by a late two-point conversion. That could be in Penn State’s favor.
Penn State 22, Ohio State 21.
Michael Renahan: This Saturday Penn State welcomes rival Ohio State into Beaver Stadium for a showdown of the top Big Ten teams. While some are saying this game has no meaning for the conference, you can bet on the fact that both teams aren’t thinking like that. When Penn State and Ohio State get together, the game is always physical and hard fought. The Nittany Lions comes in riding a 5 game winning streak, while the Buckeyes haven’t lost yet this season. Braxton Miller has a sore neck, and even though he is practicing the belief is he won’t be the same player we are use to seeing on Saturdays. The Nittany Lions on the other hand, have finally gotten healthy and seem to have all the weapons they want ready to go. Bill Belton went off for 3 touchdowns and 103 yards last week against Iowa and should have similar success against the Buckeye front four. The tight ends need to continue to have the success they have had over the first 7 games if Penn State wants to win. We all know the players will be ready to go go come Saturday, I think this game will come down to the 12th man.
If the fans can throw off what OSU wants to do and makes it difficult for Miller and the offense to get the play calls and communicate, I think Penn State wins this game 27-24.
Karisa Maxwell: Saturday's IneligiBowl may be the toughest display of football we've ever seen between these two rivals. With nothing to lose and nothing to gain (except a big "In your face" to the NCAA) Ohio State and Penn State are both guaranteed to play their hearts out in front of what should be a packed Beaver Stadium. Penn State has an obvious edge over the Buckeyes with the home field advantage, but their biggest advantage is definitely the hyped up (and pissed off) student section who's relentlessly loud cheering during the final two snaps of the 4th quarter made them deserving of some credit for the win over Northwestern. Urban Meyer made the mistake of saying in his Monday press conference that he believed the no-huddle offense would keep the crowd noise down, but as Nittanyville president Troy Weller said in his pump up speech to campers Monday night, "Wrong answer *insert curse word here*." It will be a close game, no doubt about it, but with the White House, amped student section (5% of which is camping outside Gate A already) and of course, the powerhouse Nittany Lions, the Buckeyes don't have a chance. Braxton Miller better watch out because Michael Mauti looks hungry.
Penn State 24, Ohio State 21
Ryan Murphy: I usually pride myself on being optimistic yet realistic when it comes to Penn State football. Forget all that this week. Ohio State's defense has been porous--and it's the same defense that PSU succeeded against in Columbus last season post-Grand Jury report and post-Paterno firing. Penn State will score at will. Ohio State's offense has been spectacular at times, but that success is very dependent on a healthy Braxton Miller. I have a hard time believing he's going to be even 90% this week, which is an uphill battle against a solid PSU D. Oh, and did I mention that it's going to be loud in Beaver Stadium? Optimistic and idealistic? Give me two more pumps of that.
Penn State 40, Ohio State 17.
Kevin McGuire: If I break this game down unit by unit I can find the strengths and weaknesses on both teams. Despite some recent success and improvement with Penn State's offense, I think Ohio State has the advantage if quarterback Braxton Miller is playing at full strength, This week, I do not know if he is or not. And even though I like Ohio State's offense better, I find it difficult to believe they would have a field day against Penn State's defense unless they have been holding back some tricks in the bag, which I would expect to see at times this weekend.
Ohio Sate's crutch, despite being undefeated, has been their defense and playing away from home for the past year and a half has been an issue (1-4 last year in road games, 1-5 including bowl game). However, they have proven they can win on the road in a defensive battle (Michigan State) and in a shootout (Indiana). So which defense shows up this weekend for Ohio State? And how does Bill O'Brien's coaching perform against one of the top college football coaches in the game, Urban Meyer?
This is going to be the toughest game of the season for Penn State so far. I think they jump out to an early lead, but will have to hang on for dear life in a one-point decision. Special teams will be a factor, but the defense will keep Miller and the Buckeyes from making enough big plays to survive, barely.
Penn State 21, Ohio State 20
So there you have it. We are all picking Penn State. Feel free to submit your predictions, call us crazy etc. in the comment section below.
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