The 2020 Ohio State Virtual Season keeps on keeping on this week (follow all the action by following LandGrantHolyLand on Twitch), as the Buckeyes prepare to take on the Penn State Nittany Lions on the road. Last week, Ohio State had their hands full in Iowa City with the Iowa Hawkeyes — as they usually do — but prevailed 27-17 thanks to sharp play from Justin Fields and the Buckeye receiver room in the second half:
Looks like virtual Ryan Day's halftime pep talk is paying dividends, as Ohio State marches down the field on their opening possession of the third quarter to take a 17-10 lead. https://t.co/ZIA9od2KXb pic.twitter.com/XXrT0I2O4P— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) September 26, 2020
Though Penn State currently sports a record of 3-3 in this virtual college football universe, they still graded out as a top ten preseason team. That means their roster is more than equipped to tango with the Buckeyes for the length of their upcoming contest.
This promises to be Ohio State’s toughest in-conference challenge yet this season, so let’s take a look at what to expect on both sides of the ball:
What to Watch: Ohio State Offense vs. Penn State Defense
After Trey Sermon essentially beat Nebraska by himself two weeks ago, Ohio State had trouble getting consistent production on the ground last week against a stingy Iowa defense. Penn State’s defense boasts many similar strengths, though they seem to be more prone to allowing big plays than their Hawkeye counterparts. Look no further than the title image of this article, where you’ll notice Master Teague III trucked two Nittany Lions at the same time!
However, this game will likely have to be won behind the heroics of Justin Fields, and he is more than capable of living up to the task. The virtual Buckeyes have been throwing the ball a bit more often this season than the actual 2019 team did, but we can likely credit that to Fields’ maturity and Ryan Day’s growing confidence in him. Of course, it also helps that Jameson Williams is starting to have a breakout as the team’s go-to slot receiver, while Fields continues to hammer Luke Farrell and Jeremy Ruckert with targets over the middle.
Penn State will likely play Ohio State’s offense tough early, but look for the Buckeyes to slowly break things open as the game wears along.
What to Watch: Penn State Offense vs. Ohio State Defense
Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford returns for his second campaign as a starter this season, and though he may not be the most talented quarterback the Nittany Lions have had recently, he is certainly one of the smartest. Clifford will make very few mistakes, has a great sense of when the pocket begins to break down, and makes a lot of correct throws that will likely result in a high completion percentage for this game. The Ohio State secondary will have to play to the best of their ability to avoid getting chewed up by the balanced attack of the Nittany Lions.
In addition to Clifford’s own mobile ability, the Penn State running game gets a further boost from brilliantly-named running back Journey Brown. Brown has great vision and athleticism, which will allow him to capitalize on what little holes may be there for Penn State to run through. Tuf Borland the rest of the Buckeye defense will have their hands full all day trying to clog the running lanes and keep the Nittany Lions from breaking off big plays.
The key to this game will likely come down to Ohio State’s ability to generate sacks. If Zach Harrison shows up in a big way as he did against Iowa, Penn State will likely be in too many uncomfortable long down situations to advance the ball effectively.
Follow LandGrantHolyLand on Twitch and Tune in Tomorrow at 3:15 p.m. ET to watch Ohio State vs. Iowa!
We’ll get the stream going around 3:00 p.m. ET, so be sure to tune in before the game starts! I’ll be using the time before kickoff to provide updates on those performances as well as other news from around the virtual college football universe.
Go Bucks! We can’t wait to watch with you!