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Scarlet Saturdays: #6 Ohio State vs #4 Penn State: Top Ten Show Down in the Shoe

Broadcast Info:

  • Ohio State (6-0) vs Penn State (6-0)

  • Saturday, October 21, Noon Kickoff

  • Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio.

  • Fox Big Noon Kickoff

What's at Stake?

The anticipated match-up and top-ten showdown between the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions is finally here. Both teams have this game circled on the calendar at the beginning of the year knowing you have to win this game to play for a Big Ten Championship. The Buckeyes come into this game undefeated with the better out-of-conference win on the road at Notre Dame while Penn State comes into this game undefeated as well. but with no real test leading up to this point. The big storyline for Penn State in this game is quarterback Drew Allar is an Ohio native and grew up wanting to play for the Buckeyes but never got his offer until he was already committed to Penn State. If there is one game the young quarterback would want to win in his career, is going into Columbus and winning in front of his friends and family and getting his head coach James Franklin over the hump of not being able to consistently beat Ohio State. Franklin has only beaten Ohio State once in his career and enters this game with a 1-8 record against Ohio State. Franklin knows this is a must-win for his program if he wants to take Penn State to the college football playoff. Ohio State knows they had to win the three big games on their schedule to play for a conference title and be solidified for the college football playoff: Notre Dame, Penn State, and the Wolverines. The Buckeyes have done 1 of 3 and they are looking to keep their momentum with their defense to shut down Drew Allar and give their offense as many possessions as possible to beat Penn State.


Are the Ohio State Buckeyes healthy?

The big question heading into this one for Ohio State is whether their potential starters are healthy for Saturday? Ryan Day is not big on releasing injury information on a week-to-week basis and who can blame him? It gives the opponent an edge with game planning and keeps the media honest. The Buckeyes that could miss Saturday's game are Trevyon Henderson, Chip Trayanum, Emeka Egbuka, and Denzel Burke. All three of these guys are key to the Buckeye's success in winning the big games. Denzel Burke suffered an injury in last week's game with Purdue in the second half and did not return to action. Burke is a key part of the Silver Bullets defense and is currently risking on mock draft boards into a first-round pick. Now the Buckeyes have some depth at this position with Davis Igbonisun, Jordan Hancock, and true freshman Jermaine Matthews who has seen some playing time already this season. Do the Buckeyes want to have to turn to a true freshman in this game? Defensive Coordinator Jim Knowles stated saying, "he's just a guy you know is going to compete in one situation. He's a guy you can put pressure on." Jim Knowles has a lot of praise for Matthews and I look forward to seeing him play on Saturday if Burke cannot give it a go. Henderson and Egbuka are huge for the offense and are the home run hitters that Ohio State needs in big plays. Dallan Hayden stepped up in a big way Saturday for Henderson when he was ruled out during warm-ups last weekend. Hayden went on to carry the ball 11 times and rush for 76 yards and a touchdown on Saturday. I look for Henderson to play Saturday since he has been out the last two games and the Buckeyes to lean on Henderson and Miyan Williams with Trayanum leaving the game last week with a potential concussion but Hayden has all the tools needed to give the Buckeyes a boost when needed. Emeka Egbuka did not travel last week to Purdue due to a leg injury against Maryland from two weeks ago he suffered. The Buckeyes need Egbuka on Saturday to play and to compliment Marvin Harrison Jr. When Egbuka is in the game, defenses are forced to cover two first-round receivers on the field and take attention away from each other. I think Egbuka also tries to play Saturday knowing the importance of this game and the season but if not, freshman Carnell Tate, Julian Fleming, and Xavier Johnson will continue to step up for the offense when called upon.


Pressure on Drew Allar

The Buckeyes defensive line has been improving week by week and the last two weeks have been some of their best games as a unit. The interior defensive line with Michael Hall and Tyliek Williams has been everything you would want when you have electric edge rushers in Jack Sawyer and JTT. Michael Hall in week 6 had 5 QB pressures with an 84% pass rush rate. Tyliek Williams has 27 tackles on the season with a sack and a touchdown on the season. He has applied constant pressure on the QB this season as well. The sack numbers may not be noticed as much in the box score but their pressure and ability to constantly apply pressure in the middle is important especially when playing a young QB in Drew Allar. JTT comes into this game with 3 sacks on the season and 19 tackles. His biggest game of his career was against Penn State last year when he put up video game numbers with two interceptions one being a pick-6, two forced fumbles, and a strip sack. His partner on the edge Jack Sawyer, comes into this game with 7 tackles and 1.5 sacks on the season. Again, not flashy numbers but the pressure and the presence of these two off the edge with the interior of the unit is dominant for this defense. The Buckeyes have to get Allar early and make him uncomfortable if they want to win on Saturday and I think the Buckeyes key to victory starts here with the defensive line. With the pressure the defensive line can create can help create turnovers for the secondary and get the defense in three-and-outs throughout the game.

Who to watch for?

Davison Igbonisun, DB, Ohio State- Not knowing the status of Denzel Burke makes Igbonisun a player to watch. If Burke is unable to play, Igbonisun will be going up against Penn State WR, Keandre Lambert-Smith. Lambert-Smith comes into the game with 31 catches for 402 yards and 3 touchdowns. This is an electric wideout for the Nittany Lions and Igbonisun will have to step up in a big way for the Buckeyes if Burke is unable to play.

Kyle McCord, QB, Ohio State- This one is a no-brainer for me. With all the attention of Drew Allar returning to his roots in Ohio, McCord has a chip on his shoulder as well. McCord was the number one QB recruit in the state of Pennslyvania in 2021 when coming out of high school. McCord was actually on a visit to Penn State in 2018 when Penn State played Ohio State in the whiteout game. McCord watched what Ohio State was able to do with the late great Dwayne Haskins and decided in that game that he wanted to be a Buckeye but just needed the offer. Fast-forward a few months later, McCord got his offer and never looked back. Now he is starting against the team he thought he would always play for. McCord already this season outplayed a lot of his doubters against Notre Dame leading Ohio State to a game-winning drive. This one is personal for McCord, he still hears a lot of the noise. He wants to do it again against a really good Nittany Lions defense.

Drew Allar, QB, Penn State- As discussed earlier, it is homecoming week for the Allar family. Drew Allar grew up in Medina, Ohio, and dreamed of playing for the Buckeyes but never got the offer due to Quinn Ewers committing to Ohio State early in the recruiting cycle. When Ewers decided to leave Ohio State, the Buckeyes reached out to Allar but it was too late for Allar because he was committed to Penn State. Now Allar will walk into the place he grew up loving with a chip on his shoulder and looking to outduel a Buckeye defense that is not even allowing more than 10 points a game right now. A tough task for a talented QB but a very talented Nittany Lions team that comes in with Allar on Saturday.

Olumuyiwa Fashanu, offensive tackle, Penn State- Probably the best offensive lineman coming into the season and will be a top ten pick in the NFL draft next year. Fashanu will go up against JTT and Jack Sawyer on Saturday having to protect his young QB. This is a match-up to watch on Saturday due to the task he will have against this Buckeyes defensive line. If he can protect Allar against JTT who I think he will go up against the most in one-on-one situations, Penn State will be able to move the ball, and his stock will continue to rise. If not, it could be a long day for Allar and Penn State.


Dawgs Best Bets

Currently, Ohio State is a -3.5-point favorite for this match-up on Saturday. If you like Ohio State to win, take Ohio State to cover. I look for Ohio State to cover and win at home Saturday. The weather for Saturday has a chance to be cold and rain all morning. Can Ohio State develop a rushing attack against Penn State and not have to look to throw as much as they would like to if the weather is right? A healthy Trevyon Henderson will determine that factor. I still like Ohio State to cover at home in a big game for Ryan Day and the Buckeyes.

Prediction: Ohio State- 27 Penn State- 13

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