Behind Enemy Lines: Penn State vs Ohio State

·4 min read

Penn State is looking to shock the college football world as they look to snap a mid-season losing streak on the road this evening against the Ohio State Buckeyes. Ohio State has held the upper hand in this series for the majority of the past few decades, and Penn State’s sudden offensive woes have helped to make the Nittany Lions a massive underdog under the lights of Ohio Stadium in Week 9.

Our editor, Kevin McGuire, took some time to answer some questions about Penn State heading into this Big Ten East clash for our friends over at Buckeyes Wire. And Phil Harrison (NOT pictured above), editor of Buckeyes Wire, was kind enough to share some opinions on the Buckeyes for our latest Behind the Enemy Lines entry.

What are your initial thoughts of this particular matchup as Penn State heads to Ohio State?

Phil: Well, it’s lost a little luster after Penn State’s loss to Illinois last week, but most Ohio State folks — Ryan Day included — believe the Nittany Lions will provide a stiff challenge, especially if Sean Clifford is close to 100 percent. The Buckeyes have looked almost unstoppable on offense over the last few weeks, but it’ll be interesting to see how that side of the ball fares against a good defense like Penn State’s.

Who on Ohio State’s offense should Penn State be concerned with the most?

Phil: Welp. Not to sound like a homer, but there are multiple guys to be concerned about, and that’s what makes OSU so difficult to stop. You’ve got three receivers that might end up going of 1,200 yards for the season with Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba. They might all be eventual first-round draft picks. Then, there’s C.J. Stroud who — believe it or not — is putting up bigger numbers than what Justin Fields did. He’s gotten much more comfortable in the pocket and has shown precision and confidence in distributing the ball to all the playmakers. Lastly, if you focus on shutting down the passing game, then freshman sensation TreVeyon Henderson can get free with his game-breaking ability at the running back position, running behind one of the best offensive lines in the country.

For those who don’t follow Ohio State, what makes this matchup very interesting from the Ohio State perspective?

Phil: It’s offense (as mentioned) for the Buckeyes vs. the very, very good defense for Penn State. Also, an area to look out for when the Nittany Lions are on offense is receiver Jahan Dotson against a very young back-end of the OSU defense. That’s an area that teams can target this year.

What did you take away from last year’s encounter

Phil: Similar to above. Dotson was able to make some plays on 1:1 matchups down the field. Penn State should be able to do some damage in the passing game if it can get him matched up again like that. Now, OSU plays a little more zone this season, so it makes it more difficult, but there are plays to be had in the passing game if the offensive line can hold up.

What is one reason why Ohio State defeats Penn State?

Phil: In today’s day and age, you have to be able to score. It’s becoming increasingly harder to win games with great defense, good special teams, and a ball-control offense. I don’t know that Penn State can score with Ohio State. For the Nittany Lions to win, they have to somehow find more offense than we’ve seen, and get enough stops on defense. I don’t know if there’s a good chance of both of those happening.

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