Friday, October 16, 2015

#Buckeyes Preview 10.16.15: #PennState Nittany Lions @ Ohio State

By @jddisantis

Ohio Stadium will be "blacked-out" as the Ohio State Buckeyes (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten) host the Penn State Nittany Lions (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten) Saturday night in Columbus.  Buckeye fans will be wearing black as well as the players who will be debuting all-black uniforms as a play against Penn State's famous "white-outs" on Saturday nights.  The Buckeyes started slow last week but eventually got the offense cruising, and not a moment too soon.  Penn State will bring a stout defense to Columbus Saturday night and try to stymie the top ranked team in the nation.

The Buckeyes are coming off of 49-28 win against Maryland and finally showed some life in the red-zone.  Ohio State instilled a new red-zone package including J.T. Barrett at quarterback and it paid off.  After converting just six touchdowns in their previous 16 visits to the red-zone the Buckeyes were 6-for-6 against Maryland. Barrett had three rushing touchdowns and Ezekiel Elliot added two more.  Combine that with a 48 yard touchdown pass from Cardale Jones to Jalin Marshall and the Buckeyes posted the most points they have all season at 49.

Elliot continued his 100 yard game streak and had his most prolific day catching the ball out of the backfield against Maryland.  Zeke had six catches for  He continues to be the Buckeyes most consistent and reliable offensive weapon.

Despite the new red-zone package Cardale Jones played his best game of the year completing 75% of his passes and set a new college high of 291 yards along with two touchdowns.  As impressive as his offensive numbers were perhaps the most important stat was that he didn't throw an interception.

Braxton Miller had found his way back into the offense, and the end-zone against Maryland.  Miller had five catches (single game high) for 79 yards and scored his first touchdown since week one.  The Buckeyes should look to get Miller more involved as his dynamic playmaking ability is something they have been lacking at the WR position.

After a disappointing loss in their season opener against Temple, the Nittany Lions have won five straight including a decisive victory against an Indiana team that gave Ohio State all they could handle.  In Jim Franklin's first year as coach Penn State is still trying to find it's way on offense but has established itself as one of the better defenses in the nation.  The Nittany Lions rank 11th in the nation in scoring defense (14.3 pts/game), and 10th in total defense.   They are also first in the country in sacks (25), and in the top ten in tackles for loss (53).  Ohio State will be the Nittany Lions biggest test all year and will give us a good picture of whether or not those defensive numbers are inflated due to subpar competition.

Ohio State is still looking for that "complete" win where both the offense and defense play to their full potential.  Saturday night they will have an opportunity to put that performance together against a quality opponent in Penn State.  With both of these teams undefeated in conference play and Michigan playing Michigan State earlier in the day, these four teams will start to separate themselves in the East division of the Big Ten.

What: Ohio State University  vs. Penn State University
When: Saturday 10/17, 8:00 PM ET
Where: Ohio Stadium, Columbus Ohio
Watch: ABC
Line: OSU -19, O/U 47

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