The third-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes may have been late to the college football party in 2020, but they certainly made their presence known after obliterating Nebraska last Saturday in Columbus. Now, having moved up two spots in the polls after seeing the field for the first time, the Buckeyes look to continue their run toward a fourth-straight conference championship.
Standing in their way, however, is a game that Buckeye nation circled as soon as the Big Ten schedule was announced: Penn State. James Franklin’s team entered last weekend with a top-10 ranking, but experienced a surprising loss to Indiana in Bloomington in overtime. The Nittany Lions returned home to lick their wounds, and now await their top-five opponent as they hope to avoid starting the season 0-2.
While it’s hard early in the season to determine if Penn State’s loss says more about their weakness or Indiana’s strength, we can say with near certainty that the Nittany Lions will have their hands full with the Buckeyes.
Kicking things off with the offense, the aforementioned second-year starting quarterback justin Fields seemed to do it all for the Buckeyes last weekend. Fields went 20-of-21 passing for 276 yards and two touchdowns with no picks. He added 54 yards and a touchdown on the ground on 15 carries as well. Fields was anchored by receivers Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, who hauled in 13 of Fields’ 20 completions for 233 yards and a touchdown.
While the defense’s stats weren’t necessarily lights out (the Huskers finished with 370 yards of offense, and the young secondary didn’t manage to pick off either of Nebraska’s quarterbacks), the Ohio State defense did score a defensive touchdown on a forced fumble. Additionally, both of Nebraska’s touchdowns came in the first half, as the Buckeye defense locked things down in the second.
Penn State, meanwhile, is coming off the aforementioned loss to Indiana in its opener. Quarterback Sean Clifford threw for 238 yards on 24-of-35 passing, including for three touchdowns and two picks. Making matters worse, starting running back Noah Cain is now out for the season with a season-ending leg injury.
The Buckeyes are 12-point favorites over the Nittany Lions, which feels like a lot given recent series history which has featured a handful of games won by a handful of points. Historically, Ohio State holds a 20-14 advantage over Penn State, including three-straight wins since 2017. Now, with just a short season to make a statement, Ohio State looks to earn a marquee win for its College Football Playoff resume,
When is the game and how can I watch?
Game Date/Time: Saturday, Oct. 31, 7:30 p.m.
Location: State College, Pennsylvania
Radio: 97.1 FM/1460 AM
Where is “Game Day” this weekend?
Where else? The crew is headed to State College ahead of Ohio State vs. Penn State. Saturday’s Gameday visit will be the Buckeyes’ 48th time featured on the show, making Ohio State tied with Alabama for the most appearances on the show. The Buckeyes have won 33 of those appearances.
Unfortunately, the show will be missing one of its stars live and on set, as Desmond Howard recently tested positive for COVID-19. Howard is planning on participating on the show remotely. With Lee Corso already staying remote this season due to concerns around the pandemic, the lineup looks to be somewhat sparse.
What’s the rest of the Big Ten up to today?
With Minnesota and Maryland having played last night, and Wisconsin vs. Nebraska being cancelled with the Badgers’ COVID-19 outbreak, the Big Ten has just five games on the slate today. Kicking off with the early time spot, No. 13 Michigan takes on Michigan in Ann Arbor on FOX for Big Noon Saturday. Also at noon, Purdue heads to Illinois on BTN. at 3:30 p.m., No. 17 Indiana heads to a (1-0!) Rutgers on BTN, while Northwestern travels to Iowa on ESPN. Then, obviously, Ohio State faces Penn State in prime time.
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