Oct. 27, 2001. We will come back to that date later on in the article, but I just wanted to throw that out there at the onset.
A little bit of confession time here — I have never been to Beaver Stadium, so I am writing from the perspective of an Ohio State fan who knows several people who have made the trip. It is a goal of mine for me and Mrs. Minnich to someday attend a game there, but for now, I will merely pass on the advice of others who have made the trip: leave early, as the traffic will be challenging.
On to Penn State. Ohio State holds a five-game winning streak over Penn State, including two games that were in Beaver Stadium. Penn State is still smarting from the thrashing they received at the hands of Michigan on Oct. 15, but the Nittany Lions rebounded nicely last week in their impressive 45-17 home win over Minnesota.
Ohio State is heavily favored by the oddsmakers (-15.5), but the Nittany Lions always seem to play Ohio State very close, and something tells me that this game is going to have many Ohio State fans, including this one, with some anxious thoughts as this game winds down closer to the end. Below are Three Things To Watch from Penn State as the game kicks off on FOX at 12:00 p.m. ET...
- Ohio State’s passing game vs. Penn State’s secondary
Ohio State fans have reveled in the accomplishments of quarterback C.J. Stroud and his receiving corps, especially in light of the departures of Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson to the NFL, as well as the unfortunate and lingering hamstring injury that has Jaxon Smith-Njigba a perpetual game-time decision this season. While Ohio State has every reason to be excited about their prowess in the passing game, Penn State fans are equally excited to see if the strength of their defense, the secondary, will be able to slow down, or neutralize the Ohio State receivers.
Some key players in Penn State’s secondary, CB Joey Porter, Jr., and S Ji’Ayir Brown, will have their hands full, but could also cause for some unaccustomed frustration by C.J. Stroud.
2. Penn State’s tight ends vs. Ohio State’s secondary
Penn State has three tight ends on their roster in Brenton Strange (17 receptions for 245 yards, 4 touchdowns), Theo Johnson (7 receptions for 94 yards, 1 touchdown), and Tyler Warren (5 receptions for 77 yards, 1 touchdown) that were all heavily involved in the big win over Minnesota. While Parker Washington (30 receptions) and Mitchell Tinsley (28 receptions) actually lead the team in receptions, Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford will look to use any of the tight ends in perceived coverage mismatches.
On our latest Silver Bullets Podcast, I estimated that Tanner McCallister may be called upon to cover any of the tight ends Penn State may be using in their offensive game plan.
3. The Penn State crowd impact
This is a rare noon kickoff. How rare? Oct. 27, 2001 — that was the last time Ohio State traveled to Penn State for a noon kickoff. Ever since then, the games have kicked off at 3:30 p.m. ET, with it being dark by the game’s conclusion, or a 7:00 p.m./8:00 p.m. ET kickoff, and the game being played under the lights at the onset.
Count me in as one of the Ohio State fans who breathed a sigh of relief that this game was not slated for a night kickoff, as the difficulty of playing well in the venue only increases after the Penn State fans have had a full day of... hydration. The Penn State fans will still be loud, the stadium speaker will still blast that incessant lion roar, but I don’t think it will be as difficult as it would have been at night.
As I wrote up above, Penn State always plays Ohio State close, and I think it will be late in the 4th quarter when the Buckeyes eventually pull away from the Nittany Lions. I have it Ohio State 38, Penn State 21. Go Bucks!