It’s a matchup of a couple of powerhouse teams from the East Division of the Big Ten in the Buckeye State. The #9 Penn State Nittany Lions are on the road as they take on the #2 Ohio State Buckeyes Saturday afternoon. Penn State earned a 34-27 home win over Indiana in their previous contest last Saturday. Ohio State thumped Rutgers 56-21 on the road last Saturday in their most recent contest. The Buckeyes own a 20-13 edge in the all-time series between the teams and have taken the last two matchups. That includes a 27-26 road win in the most recent matchup on September 29, 2018.
Penn State Nittany Lions Try to Spring Upset VictoryPenn State bounced back from their first loss of the season as they took down Indiana at home in their last game. The Nittany Lions are one game behind the Buckeyes in the East Division race so a win here would push them into contention for a berth in the Big Ten title game. Penn State took the lead for good with just over a minute to go in a wild first quarter, 17-14, and hung on for the win at home. An 18-play, 75-yard drive that chewed up 9:01 off the clock and capped by a touchdown with 1:44 to play provided the margin of victory. The Nittany Lions were outgained 462-371, gave up 23 first downs while picking up 21 and lost the time of possession 32:06 to 27:54 in the game. Penn State did force two turnovers while committing only one in the game.
The Nittany Lions enter this contest 46th in the nation in passing offense as they average 253.5 yards through the air this season. Penn State is 53rd in rushing offense as they pick up 173.1 yards per contest. The Nittany Lions are 15th in the FBS in scoring offense by averaging 36.8 points per game and stand 7th in scoring defense by allowing just 13.5 points per contest. Sean Clifford is 168 of 242 passing for 2,450 yards with 22 touchdowns and six interceptions: he is second on the team with 374 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. Will Levis is 14 of 22 for 85 yards and a score while adding 71 rushing yards and two scores. Noah Cain is third on the team on the ground with 66 carries for 350 yards and six scores. Journey Brown (86 carries, team-high 521 yards, six TD) and Devyn Ford (48 carries, 289 yards, two TD) are also valuable options in the ground game. KJ Hamler leads the Nittany Lions with 46 receptions for 791 yards and eight touchdowns this season. Pat Freiermuth (34 grabs, 424 yards, seven TD) and Jahan Dotson (22 receptions, 412 yards, three TD) are the only other players with more than 12 catches on the year. Jake Pinegar has hit 45 of 46 extra point attempts and nine of 10 field goals with a long of 47 this season. Jordan Stout has not attempted an extra point and is two of three on field goals with a long of 57.
Now that Penn State is having success, other big programs are starting to probe whether head coach James Franklin will be available. USC is the program looking to get back on the national stage and will probably shoot for the moon. The best available head coach is Urban Meyer, who is in a broadcast booth right now. USC and other major programs with new for a head coach are probably going to knock at his door.
Urban Meyer is “undoubtedly" USC’s No. 1 choice & USC will do "whatever it takes to get him” as its next coach, sources told @Stadium. “We think the guy that can do it is Urban,” source said. "He did it at Utah, Florida & Ohio State, but the question is if he’s really interested"— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) November 1, 2019
But if Meyer is not available, could USC knock at Franklin's door? It's something that could be a distraction but Franklin is getting used to it at this time of the year.
Ohio State Buckeyes Look to Remain UnbeatenOhio State continued their mauling of opponents with a one-sided win over Rutgers last week. The Buckeyes have yet to win a game by fewer than 24 points this season and that includes wins over Wisconsin and a Michigan State team that was ranked at the time. Ohio State had little trouble with Rutgers as they were up 21-0 nine minutes into the game and 35-7 at the half before going into cruise mode. The Buckeyes rolled up a 594-231 edge in total offense, picked up 31 first downs while allowing 10 and forced three turnovers to offset two of their own. Ohio State more than made up for the fact that they were beaten 31:26 to 28:34 in time of possession.
The Buckeyes are 45th in the nation in passing offense with 254.3 yards per game through the air while the team is fourth in the country in rushing by averaging 287.4 yards per contest. Ohio State is first in the FBS in scoring offense with 51.5 points per game while they rank first in the nation in scoring defense as they allow 9.8 points per contest. Justin Fields is 159 of 230 for 2,154 yards with 31 touchdowns and one interception: he’s added 377 yards and 10 scores on the ground. Chris Chugunov is 25 of 41 for 275 yards with six touchdowns while Gunnar Hoak has hit all six passes for 104 yards and a score. J.K. Dobbins leads the team with 183 carries for 1,289 yards and 13 scores: Master Teague III (114 carries, 744 yards, four TD) is next in line. K.J. Hill has caught 38 passes for 423 yards plus six scores to lead the team. Binjimen Victor (27 receptions, 459 yards, six TD) and Chris Olave (37 receptions, 593 yards, nine TD) are other top targets in the aerial game. Blake Haubell has hit all 67 extra-point attempts and is eight of 10 on field goals with a long of 55. Dominic DiMaccio is two of three on extra points and has not attempted a field goal this year.
The top trends for this contest according to Covers.com:
- Nittany Lions are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games following an ATS loss
- Nittany Lions are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 road games vs. a team with a winning home record
- Buckeyes are 1-4 ATS in their last five vs. Nittany Lions