Gameday+ | Keys to the Ohio State-Penn State game
Take crowd out of it
Unless you’ve experienced it live, it’s hard to convey how much of a home-field advantage Penn State has in its White Out games with 107,000 roaring fans. It’ll be important for OSU’s first-year starters — quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. and left tackle Thayer Munford in particular — to be able to function without being able to hear or be heard. The best way to limit the crowd factor is to get ahead early. But this figures to be a game of momentum swings, so the Buckeyes need to be able to withstand the frenzy when things aren’t going their way.
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Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley is going to make a handful of plays out of sheer resourcefulness. Ohio State has to hope they aren’t the ones that decide the game. The Buckeyes must be disciplined in their pass rush because McSorley is effective throwing on the run. He’s less dangerous as a pure pocket passer. Penn State’s offensive line is better and more experienced than in past years, but Ohio State can come at it in waves with their deep defensive line, even without Nick Bosa.
O-line controls game
Ohio State has a mammoth offensive line and has to use it to push Penn State off the line of scrimmage. J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber are more effective running between the tackles, which is good because Penn State’s speed on defense will make it a challenge to run to the perimeter. If Ohio State can establish the run game, that will force Penn State to adjust, which will open it up for Haskins. The sophomore has shown that he can pick defenses apart if given time, which will fall on the offensive line as well as running backs to pick up blitzes.
Penn State has scored on 22 straight possessions in the red zone, with 21 being touchdowns. Ohio State can’t allow that to continue. The Buckeyes have been pretty successful in the red zone on offense — 17 touchdowns in 22 trips — but they stalled a few times against TCU in their only real test. Field goals won’t win this game.