The Buckeyes will head east to take on Penn State this weekend in their first true road game of the season. The winner of this game has an inside track not only to represent the Big Ten East in the conference championship game, but to potentially be selected to the College Football Playoff.
Saturday, September 29 at 7:30 PM ET on ABC at Beaver Stadium in University Park, Pennsylvania
What to Watch For
Parris Campbell is the most dangerous weapon in a loaded Ohio State offense.
Fans saw plenty of Parris Campbell last year as he led the team in receiving yards, but he’s reached a new level this season. Campbell has 299 receiving yards and five touchdowns through four games this season, each of which leads all other receivers on both teams. Much of this has to do with Dwayne Haskins slinging it around this year, but as we saw in arguably the biggest TD of the season so far for the Bucks (a 63-yard reception in the third quarter against TCU, their first offensive touchdown of the game), he can take a short pass and turn it into a big play. Be sure to keep an eye on Parris Campbell on Saturday night.
Saquon Barkley may be gone, but Miles Sanders hasn’t skipped a beat.
Saquon Barkley, who was the second overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, will obviously no longer be around to impact this game. His successor, Miles Sanders, has put up big numbers so far this year, easing some of the concerns of Nittany Lion fans. The junior running back has rushed for nearly 500 yards through four games, totaling over 40 yards per game more than Ohio State’s leading rusher, J.K. Dobbins. Be mindful, however, that Saquon Barkley rushed for only 44 yards in this matchup last year. Getting Miles Sanders going in this game will go a long way for Penn State to establish the balanced attack needed take down Ohio State.
Ohio State has been susceptible to allowing big plays on defense so far this year.
If Ohio State fans are going to scrutinize one aspect of their team, it would be the secondary. The Buckeyes rank 107th nationally, allowing 11 plays of 30+ yards to this point in the season. Their opponents rank 44th, 126th, 48th, and 96th, respectively, in total offense. Penn State, who ranks inside the top 20 in offensive yardage and first in scoring (55.5 points per game), is in an entirely different class when it comes to the offensive prowess of Ohio State opponents this year.
Player Who is an X-Factor
Although Nick Bosa has been ruled out for at least most of the remainder of the regular season, the Ohio State defensive line is loaded. Defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones has turned into quite a playmaker for the Buckeyes, returning a botched screen pass for a pick-six against TCU and picking up three sacks through four games so far this year. He’s a mismatch at the line of scrimmage, and will make his presence felt one way or another against Penn State on Saturday night.
Ohio State by 3
Ohio State features a balanced offensive attack that will challenge college football’s most stout defenses. The Nittany Lions rank 45th in the country in total defense, so while not awful, they’re not all that great either. Although it was officially at a neutral site, facing TCU at AT&T Stadium just 18 miles away from the Horned Frogs’ campus was a good test for this Ohio State football team. Don’t forget Dwayne Haskins’ performance on the road at Michigan Stadium last year either, so he shouldn’t be too rattled in front of the Penn State white out that’s certain to be electric. It should be an entertaining battle on Saturday night, but ultimately Urban Meyer and his team will emerge victorious.