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Penn St @ Ohio St (-19, 61)
October 30, 2021
7:30pm EST on ABC
Just a few weeks ago, it appeared that the Penn State at Ohio State game would largely determine the outcome in the Big Ten East. However, with Penn State falling to Iowa and then in nine overtimes at home to Illinois, things changed quickly.
Now the 5-2 Nittany Lions will need to take care of business and get help. But first task is against Ohio State, who the Nittany Lions have not defeated on the road in a decade. The Buckeyes are 6-1 overall and 4-0 against Big Ten competition. The game is set to kick off at Ohio State at 7:30 Saturday night with Ohio State a huge 18.5-point favorite.
Penn State head coach James Franklin not only has to figure out a way to slow down Ohio State, but he needs to get an offense into gear with a still clearly injured Sean Clifford at quarterback. Another distraction has been rumors about Franklin leaving Penn State for coaching positions at either LSU or USC.
Ohio State coach Day isn’t about to take this game lightly and knows when Penn State comes in, It’s always a battle, regardless of the status of the two teams.
When Penn State has the ball, they need to find a way to get the running game going to take pressure off Sean Clifford, who completed only 19 of 34 passes for 165 yards against Illinois. Clifford has an extra week to heal and prepare and will look to get the ball to his talented receivers which include Jahan Dotson, and KeAndre Lambert-Smith. Noah Cain leads a rushing attack that is averaging only 119.7 yards per game.
The interesting matchup will be the Penn State offensive line against an Ohio State pass rush that is bound to test Clifford.
Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud has been outstanding, with 14 touchdowns and no interceptions since returning to the lineup. If he has time, he will look for a trio of receivers in Garrett Wilson, Jaxon Smith-Njiba, and Chris Olave that have given defenses fits. The Buckeyes feature three talented running backs in Master Teague III, TreVeyon Henderson, and Miyan WIlliams to keep the Nittany Lions guessing.
The Penn State defense is generally strong, but they gave up a ghastly 357 yards on the ground against Illinois. That needs to tighten significantly and a key matchup to watch will be Ohio State’s offensive line against Penn State’s defensive line.
Clifford’s injury has changed Penn State’s season. They were well on their way to defeating Iowa before he went down. A near 100-percent healthy Clifford can keep Penn State in the game. Watch carefully how Clifford moves in the pocket, scrambles, and delivers the ball downfield.
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