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Penn State Football: Previewing The Opponent: Ohio State

on October 27, 2017 2:00 PM

These are the kinds of previews that go a bit without saying. Ohio State is, despite a single loss to Oklahoma, as good as any team in the nation. The Buckeyes might not be unbeatable, and not without their flaws, but certainly Columbus can claim host to one of the more talented teams in the country. 

Can Penn State knock the Buckeyes down a peg for the second straight year? That's the 8-and-0 question and a win that would be the first over Ohio State in consecutive meetings since the late 1970s.

So here is what you need to know as Penn State heads into a pivotal 3:30 kick this weekend.

Last Week: 

Ohio State spent last week on a bye, something that Urban Meyer has lost coming out of only once in his career. Prior to the bye week it has been fairly easy sailing for the Buckeyes who have beaten Nebraska, Maryland, Rutgers and UNLV all while scoring over 50 points. Certainly not the toughest sledding but consistent high-scoring football nevertheless.

Offense:

First and foremost the Buckeyes lean on JT Barrett at the quarterback position yet again this year and the senior has been as consistent as ever. That's not to say Barrett isn't without his detractors, the Buckeyes had struggled throwing the ball deep down the field much of the season before finding their stride. Even so, Barrett is the usual dual-threat quarterback Ohio State fans and onlookers have come to expect, beating you with his arm and with his feet. 

Behind him it's J.K Dobbins, a flashy freshman who has 775 yards on 100 carries this season and has been one of the few backs in the nation who might be similar to Saquon Barkley. He might not be there yet, but Dobbins won't be any easier for Penn State's defense to tackle than Barkley will be for Ohio State, and that head-to-head showdown will be a fun one to watch. Mike Weber isn't a back to forget either, and would be starting if not for Dobbin's breakout year.

Outside receiver Paris Campbell has been a reliable target with 28 catches for 405 yards and two touchdowns.

Overall you're looking at the nation's third ranked total offensive leader.

Defense:

This is where the game will be won or lost, in the trenches. It will all start with Nick Bosa at the defensive end spot who has 18 tackes this year, 10 of them for a loss and four sacks this season. All in all the defensive front is a talented and experienced group that will test Penn State's offensive line.

Behind them Damon Webb is the lone returning starter in the secondary, leading the Buckeyes with 34 tackles this season. He works next to Jordan Fuller, who is second on the team in tackles. Outside linebacker Jermoe Baker leads that unit with 29 stops and four tackles for a loss as well. All told the Buckeye defense has generated 58 stops behind the line and 18 sacks on the year. 

Overall, much like Penn State, Ohio State's defense doesn't give up many yards or many points. And much like Penn State the Buckeyes will find out on Saturday if that's because they have a good unit or a soft schedule.

The Player To Watch:

Ohio State poses a handful of players worth keeping an eye on, but when it comes to a player that can turn the game on a single play it's going to come down to Dobbins. If Penn State can continue him and force Ohio State to take shots down the field it might be a good day for the Nittany Lions. If not, it's a running back battle, something Penn State can win, if it can win in the trenches as well.

The Prediction:

This game is a tough one to predict. Ohio State is at home, but Penn State is probably the better team overall. It depends on what Penn State team shows up, but if the Nittany Lions can move the ball, they will win the game. After converting just three times on third-down in the past two meetings, this is the year it clicks in Columbus.

34-24 Penn State.

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