Five bold predictions for Ohio State against Penn State

·4 min read

We’ve got another prime-time football game in the ‘Shoe Saturday when Penn State invades the venerable stadium to take on Ohio State. It’ll be a good test for a Buckeye offense that has done about anything it’s wanted over the last few weeks because the Nittany Lion defense has been very good this season.

We like Ohio State’s chances still of taking this one, but how? Well, we try to peer into the crystal ball and predict some pretty bold things we think you might see during the game. And it’s not the standard vanilla things like OSU piling up 500 yards of offense, or C.J. Stroud throwing for 300 yards. Believe it or not, those things have become commonplace this season.

Here are five bold predictions we think you probably won’t (but could) see Saturday night in Ohio Stadium.

Ohio State will hold Penn State to under 100 total yards rushing

Coming into this season, many felt like Penn State would be a good rushing team. It hasn’t happened for various reasons, and there’s no reason to believe it’ll change Saturday. Ohio State’s defense has also gotten much better up front so we think the silver bullets will come to play and look to throttle the Nittany Lions’ rushing attack even more than normal. We’re calling for the Buckeyes to hold Penn State to under 100 yards as a team on the ground overall.

Ohio State will rush for over 300 yards

Ohio State Buckeyes running back TreVeyon Henderson (32) runs past Indiana Hoosiers wide receiver David Baker (4) for a 6-yard touchdown during the second quarter of the NCAA football game at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Ind. on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

The Penn State defense gave up a whopping 357 yards against Illinois last week, a team that ranks No. 42 in the country in gaining yards on the ground — after last week’s game. If you think the Illini can crank things up on the ground, wait until the Ohio State offensive line and stable of running backs get a crack at moving the pile. Ryan Day isn’t going to pull the parachute on the passing game, but look for a more concerted effort to get things cranking on the ground in this one.

Ohio State will score a touchdown on defense

Ohio State Buckeyes safety Ronnie Hickman (14) returns the ball for an interception touchdown during the game against the Akron Zips at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio Sept. 25. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State’s defense was a unit trying to figure things out during the first few games of the season. However, since about game three, that side of the ball has continued to improve and no longer looks like a liability. In fact, the OSU defense went through four weeks straight of scoring a defensive touchdown. With Penn State’s injury concerns at quarterback and inability to get much going on offense, we like the Buckeye defense to create a turnover that results in six points again.

C.J. Stroud will score two rushing touchdowns

Ohio State Football: 5 issues vs. Oregon and whether they can be fixed
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Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) is tackled by Oregon Ducks linebacker Mase Funa (47) and Oregon Ducks linebacker Noah Sewell (1) during Saturday’s NCAA Division I football game at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on September 11, 2021.

Ohio State hasn’t had to have quarterback C.J. Stroud a part of the rushing attack. It makes sense because the backfield has been so explosive and dynamic. Plus, you keep your Heisman caliber signal-caller out of harm’s way with fewer hits. However, Penn State’s secondary has been pretty good this year and the coaching staff might need to dial up some Q-runs in the red zone to finish off drives. We say Stroud gets his number called in this one on option reads and hits pay-dirt twice on the ground.

The Ohio State defense will get at least three sacks

Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Sean Clifford (14) walks off the field after a failed 2-point conversion during the fourth quarter of the NCAA football game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Beaver Stadium in University Park, Pa. on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

The Ohio State defensive line is starting to be a problem. There was a lack of pressure early in the year, but the mix of veterans and youth now are in a rotation that seems to work, and the disruption is starting to come. OSU could only muster four sacks through the first three games, but are averaging five a game through the last four. Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford has a tendency to hold the ball longer than normal, and that’s going to result in a sack fest for the Buckeye D.

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