Make or Break for the Buckeyes: Week 9 Preview

It’s a good day to be a Nittany Lion. In Week 8’s Game of the Week, Penn State was dominate from the first quarter all the way to the final whistle. They held Michigan to zero second half points less than 300 total yards for the game.

In other Big Ten action, Wisconsin took care of business against Maryland to stay unbeaten. Michigan State needed all four quarters to beat Indiana in East Lansing while Northwestern was able to beat the Hawkeyes in OT. Rutgers (!!) gets its third win of the year with a victory over Purdue and moved to .500 in Big Ten play. The last game of the week, Minnesota used a late pick-six to seal the game against Illinois.

All in all, it was a fun week in the Big Ten. Four of the six games came down to the final quarter so here is to hoping Week 9 can be the same. Here are my three thoughts and things headed into this week.

1. Michigan linemen vs. Penn State linemen. As I highlighted last week in the Match Up to Watch, it was going to be a battle of the trenches. Michigan rushed the ball 42 times while Penn State was close behind at 35 attempts. The game was won and lost on the ground. Penn State was able to average over 6 yards per rush on those 35 attempts while the Wolverines averaged 2.5 yards per rush. In addition, Michigan allowed 7 sacks to Penn State’s 2 and had some costly penalties to boot. Penn State’s defense, particularly the front seven, was able to dominate and dictate the game giving up a long run of 11 yards and only one completion over 20 yards. Michigan’s running backs had no big holes to run through and John O’Korn didn’t even have time to look downfield. Penn State was able to dominate this matchup and in turn, dominate the game.

2.  Spartans’ D. Michigan State has quietly had one of the best defenses in college football this season. They rank 5th in YPG, 10th in Yds per play, 15th in 3rd down defense and 9th in defensive efficiency. Their defense is led by a young, aggressive secondary and an extremely dominate front seven, led by LB Joe Bachie. The defense is able to keep them in games, even when the offense is struggling (i.e. Indiana game). Expect a defensive battle this Saturday as they travel to Chicago for a matchup with Northwestern. The weather looks like it should be brisk so if you like points, don’t tune into this one because it wouldn’t shock me if we didn’t see an offensive touchdown all game.

3. Buckeyes’ threads. Ohio State unveiled it’s uniforms for this weekends showdown with Penn State and they look pretty sick. They will rock a gray jersey with black numbering, gray pants, red LeBron cleats and a black and gray helmet with scarlet Buckeye leaves. Not sure how I will feel when its all put together as they released all the pictures separately but they look pretty nice. The only knock I have is that they didn’t make the numbers outlined in scarlet or put any scarlet on the jerseys but thats just me. Screen Shot 2017-10-24 at 9.03.13 AM

Week 9 Match Up to Watch: Ohio State vs. Penn State.

Normally, I try to highlight a matchup within the game or one that may be overlooked by most but this week I think you have to state the obvious. This is one of the most anticipated games of the year and obvious playoff implications are at stake here. The winner of this game is most likely to represent the East division in the Big Ten Championship game which could ultimately decide the Big Ten’s fate in terms of the playoff.

This is make or break for the Buckeyes. Another loss and they are likely sitting the playoffs out for the third year in a row (31-0). A win however and the Buckeyes prove that they are for real and the loss to Oklahoma was just a bad game. Penn State, the number 2 team in the country, will have all it handle traveling to Columbus. Ohio State comes in virtually untested since its loss to Oklahoma and have seemed to improve since that defeat, but we can’t really be sure.

Penn State is coming undefeated, fresh off a trouncing of Michigan, and boasts the best player in the country. Penn State has lost once since last September and that loss was a Rose Bowl they probably should have won. On paper, this matchup feature two top-6 teams in the polls, two top-20 offenses, two top-20 defenses and two teams filled with players who will be playing on Sunday for years to come.

But this game isn’t played on paper. Penn State has looked like the best team in the country as of late, and Barkley and McSorely looked unstoppable against Michigan, who boasts a top defense of their own. I just can’t be sold on Ohio State just yet. They got the doors blown off at home verse their only real opponent this year and they have only beaten one team that has a winning record right now. That being said and having watched J.T. Barrett play against Oklahoma, I can’t choose Ohio State, not even at home. I think Penn State is too good, too balanced, too well-coached to be at risk of losing this one when we don’t know what we are going to get from the Buckeyes besides sweet uniforms.

Penn State 31, Ohio State 20. 

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