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Look for a shootout between Lions and Buckeyes, with both teams around 30 points -- and PSU prevailing
October 26, 2012 - Cory Giger
A breakdown of the matchups for Penn State's game Saturday against Ohio State:
PSU: Game isn't just to determine Big Ten's best team, but also best quarterback. Matt McGloin enjoying terrific season in NASCAR attack, leading league in passing (255 ypg) with 14 TDs, only 2 INTs. Need balance from either RB Bill Belton or Zach Zwinak.
OSU: Braxton Miller is healthy and will play after suffering neck injury (but no concussion) last week. He's an exceptional runner (959 yards) but average passer (59 percent, 173 ypg, 11 TDs, 5 INTs). WR Philly Brown 44 catches. RB Carlos Hyde (91 ypg) dangerous.
PSU: Lions have to be prepared for Buckeyes' no-huddle offense, and going up against one in practice every day should help. Someone has to spy on Miller at all times -- LB Gerald Hodges the best choice -- and PSU will try to force Miller to beat them with arm.
OSU: Buckeyes allowing 24.2 points per game (PSU 15.7) and were torched for 49 points by Indiana, 38 by Nebraska and gave up 28 to California. Allowing 393 yards per game and 272 through the air, so their secondary could be ripe for the picking.
Advantage: Penn State
PSU: Lions are dead last in the nation in net punting, averaging only 30.19 yards. Alex Butterworth had bad game against Iowa, averaging just 29.3 on three punts. PK Sam Ficken made 34-yard FG but had 44-yarder partially blocked. He's just 4-of-11 with a long of 34.
OSU: The Buckeys have big advantage here. They've returned two punts for TDs and have blocked six kicks (1 punt, 2 FGs, 3 PATs). PK Drew Basil has attempted just five field goals, making three with a long of 35. P Ben Buchanan is one of Big Ten's best, averaging 42.2 yards. There could be a lot of points, so punting might not be a big issue. But if it is, the Buckeyes have major edge.
Advantage: Ohio State
PSU: Beaver Stadium will be rocking for game, which is Lions' biggest of the season. Neither team can play in a bowl game because of NCAA sanctions, so this is PSU's chance to make a big national statement. It will be a whiteout and electric atmosphere.
OSU: Urban Meyer is one of the best coaches in the country and has been in many big games, so to say he will be outcoached by Bill O'Brien is a tall order. But this category is also about intangibles, and that's why Penn State gets the nod here.
Advantage: Penn State
I picked a lower score (24-23 PSU) earlier this week, but with Braxton Miller expected to be healthy, I'm thinking it will be more of a shootout. Penn State 33, Ohio State 30. (Prediction record for season: 6-1)