Ohio State football: Urban Meyer knows that Penn State will be a huge test

Bill Rabinowitz
Penn State Nittany Lions fans cheer on their team against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the second quarter of the NCAA football game at Beaver Stadium in State College, Penn. on Oct. 22, 2016. (Adam Cairns / The Columbus Dispatch)

Ohio State has been seriously tested in only one of its first four games this season.

Saturday night’s game against No. 9 Penn State will be a test like not even Texas Christian was. Though TCU’s campus was close to AT&T Stadium, Buckeye fans outnumbered Horned Frogs ones.

That won’t be the case when the No. 4 Buckeyes go to State College. A white-out crowd of 107,000 will await Ohio State in a game that features the country’s two most prolific offenses.

“It’s just a difficult place,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said Monday during his weekly press conference. “It’s certainly one of the top-five hard stadiums to play in. Very loud and the fans are into it. A great environment.”

The winner will have the upper hand in the Big Ten East division.

“Obviously, a huge game this week,” Meyer said.

The last two Buckeye games at Beaver Stadium have been particularly memorable. Ohio State edged Penn State 31-24 in double-overtime in 2014 with J.T. Barrett leading the way despite an injured knee. Two years ago, Penn State rallied to win on a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown late.

Penn State lost star running back Saquon Barkley to the NFL, but that hasn’t slowed the Nittany Lions. They lead the country in points per game (55.5) behind quarterback Trace McSorley.

Ohio State is second nationally in scoring (54.4) behind quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr., who was named Big Ten co-offensive player of the week for his five-touchdown performance against Tulane.

Neither team’s defense has been consistently dominating. Ohio State has been susceptible to big plays. Penn State’s defense, which lost nine starters, has been porous at times.

Meyer said that defensive tackle Robert Landers will return this week after missing the Tulane game with an undisclosed injury. Meyer said that defensive end Nick Bosa will be out “a few more weeks” after having core-muscle surgery on Thursday.

Running back Mike Weber will be available against Penn State, Meyer said. He injured his foot against Tulane and did not return.


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