Ohio State v Penn State Preview

Moments after becoming the first major college football coach to win 400 games, Penn State’s Joe Paterno was already thinking a week ahead.

“Now that the celebration’s over, let’s go beat Ohio State!”

Columbus has not been a happy ground for the Nittany Lions. The win in Columbus two-years ago was Penn State’s first victory at Ohio State since joining the Big Ten. They’d lost the previous seven visits by an average of three touchdowns.

Penn State (6-3, 3-2) has bounced back from consecutive losses with three straight wins, but they face an Ohio State (8-1, 4-1) team who is coming of their bye week knowing that three more wins will give them at least a share of a sixth straight Big Ten title.

The Buckeyes have won six of the last eight meetings overall, including a 24-7 win last season in Happy Valley behind three total touchdowns from Pennsylvania native Terrelle Pryor. The Nittany Lions won 13-6 in 2008 at Ohio Stadium, aided by a late Pryor fumble.

“It’s going to be tough to stay with these guys,” Paterno said. “I’m telling you, I’ve stated if not the best, they’re one of the three, four best football teams in the country.”

Considering how much Pryor has improved in his junior season, Paterno’s statement might be fairly accurate. Pryor is the nation’s fifth highest-rated passer and is tied for the Big Ten lead with 20 TD passes. Perhaps most impressively, he’s completed 67.6 percent of his passes — 11 percent better than his sophomore season.

“He’s all business. He’s not out there trying to out-do anybody,” Paterno said. “He’s just out there trying to get his football team to win. He’s the kind of guy a coach likes to see have success.”

Penn State missed out on luring Pryor during the quarterback’s much-publicized 2008 recruitment, but it may have a future fixture under center in Matt McGloin. The sophomore threw two touchdown passes Oct. 23 at Minnesota when freshman Rob Bolden suffered a concussion. McGloin has thrived as the starter the past two weeks, throwing for 475 yards and five touchdowns without an interception.

The Nittany Lions had four TD passes in their first six games.

“I don’t want to take anything away from (Bolden), but obviously (McGloin) has come in here … and made some big plays,” Paterno said.

McGloin’s first few tests as a starter have been considerably easier than what he’ll face in Columbus, however. Northwestern and Michigan’s pass defenses rank 100th and 115th, respectively, in FBS. Ohio State’s is third (150.2 yards per game).

The Buckeyes also expect starting weakside linebacker Ross Homan to return Saturday after missing two games with a foot injury, which could help against a Nittany Lions running game that’s averaged 223.5 yards behind Evan Royster and Silas Redd the past two weeks.

Penn State is 25-2 when it runs for at least 130 yards the last three regular seasons and 2-4 otherwise. Ohio State is 27-1 when it hits triple digits on the ground, and 1-4 when it doesn’t.

 

 

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