Penn State vs. Ohio State Game Notes

Story posted October 27, 2012 in Sports, CommRadio by Jason Shawley

Coming off of an unexpected blowout win over Iowa last weekend, Penn State will try to extend its five-game winning streak while maintaining its perfect conference record Saturday evening against Ohio State. The Buckeyes most recently survived Purdue in overtime to bring their overall record to 8-0.

Ohio State comes into the game ranked ninth in the AP Poll, but are not in the BCS standings. The Buckeyes, along with the Nittany Lions, are not eligible for postseason play or a conference championship, though both teams can still win a division title.

Since dropping its first two games to Ohio and Virginia, Penn State has won its last five games, including its first three in Big Ten play. The Buckeyes and the Lions currently occupy the first two spots in the Leaders Division standings.

Penn State scored early and often against Iowa, jumping out to a 24-0 halftime lead. The Lions finished strong, winning by a score of 38-14. Quarterback Matt McGloin continued his excellent play, throwing for 289 yards and two touchdowns. McGloin now has 14 passing touchdowns and only two interceptions so far this season.

Penn State fans have seen a drastic improvement in McGloin’s play compared to previous years. Last season, while splitting time with Rob Bolden, who has since transferred to LSU, McGloin completed just 54 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and five interceptions, compiling 1,571 passing yards. Through just seven games this season, McGloin has thrown for 1,788 yards and has completed 62 percent.

First-year head coach Bill O’Brien is receiving most of the credit for McGloin’s quick turnaround. Fans are seeing an offense similar to what O’Brien ran as the offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots. O’Brien has molded the offense around the strengths of McGloin which features a short, quick passing game.

The tight ends have been giving the offense a spark that it hasn’t been used to, especially redshirt freshman Kyle Carter. This is a welcome surprise for Nittany Lion fans given the fact that the tight end position has had next to no production in the Penn State offense since the departures of Andrew Quarless and Mickey Shuler. Carter has 29 receptions on the season for 364 yards and a touchdown and has recently been added to the Mackey Watch List for the nation’s top tight end.

After the departure of Silas Redd just weeks before the start of the season, many were unsure whether Penn State would have any kind of a running attack to complement Matt McGloin. Though many have been cycled through, there hasn’t been a lack of production. Bill Belton started the season opener, but after an injury that sidelined him for a couple of weeks, the Nittany Lions have received contributions from the likes of Derek Day, Curtis Dukes, Zack Zwinack and fullback Michael Zordich. Combined, Penn State’s five-headed monster has accumulated 1,045 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Since the first week of the season, the Penn State defense has been nothing short of spectacular, giving up just 15.7 points per game, the 13th best scoring defense in the country. The defense is led by senior linebacker Michael Mauti, who registered his third interception of the season on Saturday. Led by first-year defensive coordinator Ted Roof, it seems to have been a smooth transition from the Tom Bradley era.

Penn State has few holes in its team, but the one that they do have is enormous. Kicker Sam Ficken has been a disappointment to say the least, converting just 4 of 11 field goal attempts and also missing a few crucial extra point attempts. In Penn State’s week two loss to Virginia, Ficken missed four of five field goal attempts as well as an extra point. That proved to be the difference, as Penn State lost 17-16. That was the team's last loss to this point, but the staff has shown its lack of confidence in Ficken. O’Brien has shown that he is willing to go for it on fourth down with regularity.

Penn State will have its hands full with the unbeaten Buckeyes and their breakout star quarterback Braxton Miller. After a shaky freshman year, Miller has stepped up and is living up to the expectations. Miller was banged up last week in a win against Purdue, but Meyer says that Miller is good to go. Miller has recently has his name mentioned in Heisman rumors as well. Penn State fans are surely nervous about facing such a great talent, but many are likely intrigued and see this game as a true test of where the Nittany Lions are mid-way through the season.

Kickoff is at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday at Beaver Stadium. ComRadio will broadcast the game live with the Tailgate and Pregame Show up until kickoff. Tune in at psucomradio.com.

Jason Shawley is a junior majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact him, email jts5353@psu.edu.