Headline: No. 2 Ohio State Faces No. 13 Penn State in the Lion’s Den
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With 107,000 fans ready to bring the roar, No. 2 Ohio State will roll into Happy Valley to face No. 13 Penn State for a noon kickoff on Oct. 29.
November 1912 marked the inaugural border state battle between Penn State and Ohio State where the Nittany Lions shut out the Buckeyes 37-0.
Fast-forwarding 110 years later, both programs have collectively had 31 head coaches and accumulated a total of 44 conference championships (40 credited to Ohio State).
This year’s matchup marks the 21st time that both teams will be ranked in the AP Poll and the second time in series history where the Nittany Lions and Buckeyes squared off in Beaver Stadium on Oct. 29. On the exact date in 1994, Penn State gave the Buckeyes a pasting with a 63-14 win.
For the first time since 2018, fans will be in attendance to watch the blue and white clash with the scarlet and gray in Beaver Stadium. Cardboard cutouts lined the stands during the 2020 season, which only elevates this game’s importance in the eyes of the Nittany Lion faithful.
In a recent press conference, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day acknowledged the impact of Penn State’s crowd as it is known to bring a disruptive avalanche of sound.
“Their crowd is going to be in it,” Day said. “They’ll play a factor.”
Penn State is on the prowl for an upset. For offensive strategy, Penn State’s running game developed with running back additions Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen.
The freshman duo account for 957 out of 1357 total rushing yards gained for the Nittany Lions this season. Singleton and Allen are well-acquainted with the end zone with 11 combined rushing touchdowns out of 15 so far.
In order for the Nittany Lions to stay competitive against an Ohio State defense that ranks fourth in the Big Ten for rushing defense, balance is key between the run and passing games.
Penn State head coach James Franklin emphasized this theme during a press conference on Oct. 26.
“We have to do some things this week on offense, defense and special teams that are going to give Ohio State pause,” Franklin said.
This weekend, both programs will see the ghosts of recruits past. According to Day, Ohio State observed sixth-year quarterback Sean Clifford prior to his commitment to Penn State.
“Any time we play Penn State – certainly with Clifford – we know that they’re really good and they can attack you a bunch of different ways,” Day said.
Buckeyes wide receiver Julian Fleming will be an important name to remember for the Ohio State offense with 327 total yards and 6 touchdowns so far this season.
The former five-star recruit committed to Ohio State and wide receivers coach Brian Hartline’s vision for the Buckeyes’ offense. Fleming was favored to wear blue and white due to living just 74 miles away from State College.
“If you lose the guy and now you have to play against him for four years, it’s probably more impactful,” Franklin said regarding former recruits playing in the Big Ten. “I don’t know if it necessarily is but it feels that way.”
Now, Fleming has quarterback C.J. Stroud at the helm, who ranks first nationally in touchdown passes. Running backs TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams slot in as other choices for Stroud to utilize.
The Nittany Lions bring a solid defense to the table this weekend, ranking third in the Big Ten for defensive efficiency. Cornerbacks Joey Porter Jr., Johnny Dixon and Kalen King stare down the Buckeyes receivers but have been playing with raw physicality when it matters most.
For Franklin, recognizing trends and making key adjustments are crucial in a Big Ten brawl against its neighbors to the west.
“The most important thing is you need to be aware of what your tendencies are on offense, defense and special teams,” Franklin said. “Either be comfortable with what they are or what can we do to complement.”
Emma Holtz is a junior majoring in public relations. To contact her, email email@example.com.
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Third Year / Public Relations