Penn State looms larger than most among big games
Receiver Terry McLaurin knows he doesn’t have to sell his Ohio State teammates on the importance of a Big Ten East showdown Saturday night at Penn State, but he filled the media in on it Wednesday.
“One thing I’ve learned over my time here is every game is a big game; try losing one of them and find out if it’s a big game or not,” the fifth-year senior receiver and captain said. “But obviously you’ve got two top 10-ranked opponents, we’re both on the same side of the division.
“The last couple of years, this game has really had implications for the Big Ten and for the College Football Playoff. So we know what’s at stake in that aspect.”
Then add the specter of playing in the “White Out” promotion that Penn State seems to schedule each time the Buckeyes show up at Beaver Stadium.
“We’re going into their environment this year, so we’ve just got to execute at a very high level,” McLaurin said. “Just be ready for the adversity of a big game.”
Weber ready to roll
Coach Urban Meyer said that running back Mike Weber will be ready to go Saturday. The junior had to leave last week’s win over Tulane in the first half after the back side of his right foot was rolled over by a Tulane defender.
Meyer said the rest of the team was OK, at least through Wednesday’s practice — except for defensive end Nick Bosa, who is recovering from surgery to repair a core muscle injury suffered against TCU, and freshman running back Brian Snead, who remains in flux because of an undisclosed violation of team rules.
Easy to concentrate
Drue Chrisman is Ohio State’s seldom-used punter and often-used holder for point-after-touchdown and field-goal tries by Sean Nuernberger. Chrisman said he tries to stay in a blinders-on approach at home or on the road, along with deep snapper Liam McCullough, when it comes to maintaining focus, even for what promises to be a wild scene Saturday.
“It’s kind of funny, but every time I go on the field I’m kind of looking at Liam’s butt, whether it’s holding for a PAT or punt,” Chrisman said. “So that’s really the only thing I’m looking at, as weird as it is.”
He knows what’s at stake for his units, though. Two years ago, with the Buckeyes holding a seemingly safe lead, Penn State blocked a punt by Cameron Johnston that was turned into a field goal, and the Nittany Lions followed by blocking a field-goal attempt that they returned for the winning touchdown.
“I was at home watching that on TV,” said Chrisman, a freshman at the time. “And yeah, I know, special teams. I think the last couple years it’s come down to special teams, last year Denzel (Ward) blocking a punt” as the Buckeyes staged a dramatic rally at Ohio Stadium. “We definitely think special teams are going to play a huge factor.”