The Penn State Nittany Lions (5-1, 2-0) will look to hold on to their five-game win streak with their first conference road game against the top-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes (6-0, 2-0). This nationally televised game will be broadcast live on ABC at 8 p.m.
Fast Facts: This is the first five-game win streak for the Penn State since 2012, and this is the seventh primetime matchup between the Lions and the Buckeyes since 2005.
“We are really excited about the opportunity,” said head coach James Franklin. “It will be a tremendous challenge, but we are excited about it. This type of game is why people come to Penn State. It will be a great atmosphere, and we are looking forward to it.”
This is the 31st time that the two teams will meet since 1912. Ohio State leads the series 17-13.
Last Week: The Lions’ defense held Indiana to just one touchdown in the 29-7 win against the Hoosiers last week. Quarterback Christian Hackenberg was responsible for four touchdowns (two rushing and a pair of 39-yard tosses). With his 17 total 200-yard games, Hackenberg is now the second Penn State quarterback to rack up more than 2000 career yards.
Carl Nassib has been the dominating defensive force for Penn State. With 10.0 sacks and five forced fumbles, Nassib leads the nation. The Nittany Lions defense is ranked tenth in total defense in the nation, allowing only 275.7 yards per game.
The Buckeyes are riding a 19-game win streak and are shooting for their second straight national championship. After trouncing Maryland last Saturday 49-28, Ohio State rose to 2-0 in conference play. The team’s strongest defense is their offense, which is averaging 36.8 points and 460.0 yards per game.
What to Watch For: Hackenberg had a confidence-boosting game against Indiana. If the offensive line can protect him from an intimidating Ohio State defense, he could prove to be a deadly weapon on Saturday. He must stay involved with all aspects of the offense; although he prefers to throw the ball – and is pinpoint accurate when given the time to set up the pass – Hackenberg has the speed to run the ball as well.
Hackenberg’s favorite target recently has been sophomore wide receiver Chris Godwin, who leads the Lions with 27 receptions for 390 yards. Communication on the offensive line has improved significantly over the last few weeks. If this trend continues, the Penn State offense could become dangerous.
Penn State’s defense is promising too. Ohio State’s big offense will prove to be a challenge, but the triple threat of Nassib, Austin Johnson, and Anthony Zettel could be a game changer.
Ohio State has star power in names like Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett, both of whom are slated to play on Saturday. The two share the quarterback duties, and each brings a unique and complementary skill set to the table. Jones, who has thrown for 1,158 yards, seven touchdowns and five interceptions, has started all of Ohio State’s games this season.
The Buckeyes have two lethal receivers in Michael Thomas, who has seen action and caught a pass in 22 consecutive games, and Braxton Miller, the two-time Big Ten MVP. Thomas leads the team with 27 catches for 399 yards.
Ohio State’s defense is solid. Junior defensive end Joey Bosa is back again for the game. Bosa, who recorded the game-winning sack on Hackenberg in last year’s overtime game at Beaver Stadium, has 6.0 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks through the first five games of the season.
Across the Nittany Network:
- The sod in Beaver Stadium was replaced this week, removing the ground on which Penn State legends such as Joe Paterno, Sam Ficken, Michael Mauti, and Mike Hull walked on.
- The women’s soccer team topped Purdue after Raquel Rodriguez scored her eighth career game-winning goal on Thursday.
- The No. 11 men’s golf team will take part in the inaugural Mountaineer Intercollegiate on Monday and Tuesday.
- The fifth-ranked women’s volleyball returns to Rec Hall this weekend for a pair of conference games against Indiana and No. 18 Purdue.
- Men’s football team members Carl Nassib and Austin Johnson were added to the Bednarik Award watchlist this week. They join fellow defensive lineman Anthony Zettel in the honor.
Penn State’s showdown with Ohio State will start at 8 p.m. on Saturday. Catch the game live on ABC. Chris Fowler (Play-by-Play), Kirk Herbstreit (Analyst) and Heather Cox (Sideline) will call the game.
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