One of the television networks is describing this upcoming game as the season’s most-anticipated game. I am not sure if I am buying that one quite yet, but it certainly is one of the most anticipated games.
The AP Top-25 saw fit not to make this a top-five matchup as the voters dropped Penn State from No. 5 to No. 6 by moving Washington up, and while this game may not get its own entry into both record books for being the “next” top-five matchup that either team has taken part in, it will still be one of those games that people will use as a landmark when talking about the 2023 season, regardless if the game goes right or wrong, depending on rooting interests.
There is going to be more than enough conversation about this game throughout the week that we don’t want to empty the bucket with every factoid that we can find out about this game and rather want to help you close the weekend by getting you warmed up on who Penn State is and a little bit more about this upcoming game that will bring in both FOX and ESPN to do their pregame shows within close proximity of one another.
Last Game: Penn state def. UMASs, 63-0
Penn State did not have an open week before facing Ohio State but it had the next best thing in terms of level of competition.
Yes, UMass is Division-I (FBS) but you would be hard pressed to get a consensus vote from most college football fans that UMass is playing in the highest classification of college football
The Nittany Lions were able to do whatever they wanted in this game and could have scored a lot more, especially after giving the Minutemen a big check to come in and take their lumps.
Drew Allar had an easy game with 16-23 passing on the day for just 162 yards but three touchdowns. Nick Singleton had 79 yards on the ground, Kaytron Allen had 68 and back-up quarterback Beau Pribula had 59 of his own.
Penn State’s defense held UMass to just nine first downs, 109 total yards and sacked UMass quarterbacks seven times. UMass never made it to the Penn State red zone in this game and the game was far uglier than anything we are mentioning in this piece.
If a sweat was broken in this game, it was not much of one.
offensive names to know
QB – Drew Allar: Ohio State fans know who the Penn State quarterback is, they have heard about him for years as Allar left the state of Ohio to cross the border to play for the Nittany Lions.
Allar is 65-percent passer this year, up from 58-percent in relief duty of Sean Clifford last season. Over the course of his career, Allar has not thrown an interception on 241 pass attempts. Of course the question is, how many 50-50 balls does he throw?
Does it matter when he has 12 touchdowns this season and 16 over the course of his career?
Allart is not exactly Caleb Williams when it comes to creating with his legs but he does has three rushing touchdowns on the year and at 6-foot-5, 243-pounds, he is dangerous trying to pick up that yard.
RB – Kaytron Allen: Penn State has a pair of talented running backs but Allen leads the team in carries and yards and while Nicholas Singleton has six touchdowns to Allen’s three, we decided to spotlight Allen.
Allen’s 4.9 yards per carry is a little better than SIngleton’s 4.1 YPC but either back could break a big run and in several games, both have. There really is not a better “fit” for most teams on who they would rather face, there is just a hope that both are “off” their regular game and that Penn State’s running game will stall.
WR – KeAndre Lambert-Smith: Lambert-Smith may not get the same mentions that some previous Penn State recievers have along the lines of a Jahan Dotson, but the numbers are there.
The Penn State offense is not quite as explosive as you would expect when you look at some of the point totals, but Lambert-Smith is very consistent with 31 catches and more than 400 receiving yards on the season.
Penn State spreads the ball around in the throw game, but Lambert-Smith is the guy you want to shadow as much as possible and force the Nittany Lions to move the ball without him.
defensive names to know
LB – Abdul Carter: What if I told you that Abdul Carter camped at Ohio State and desperately wanted an Ohio State offer, only not to receiver one.
Well, it’s true. There is no telling that he would have picked Ohio State in the end, but there certainly was a real chance that it could have happened if the Buckeyes were more receptive.
What’s past is past.
Carter does not lead the team in tackles or sacks or tackles for loss or interceptions. But he is a difference maker and other people make plays just because of his presence.
He is going to be a handful.
LB – Kobe King: Generally we don’t take two players from the same position group but we have to here because Kobe King is a heck of a player as well.
As with Carter, there are going to be players with bigger numbers in this category or another, but King is another straw that stirs the drink.
Fortunately, King is a R-Soph. where Carter is just a true sophomore, we know there will be one more year of Carter, but maybe King will move on after this season if the NFL brass sees the same things that we do.
S – Jaylen Reed: Penn State gave up a lot from its 2022 defensive backfield and many felt that would be the place to get after the Nittany Lions.
We will talk more about the origin of Penn State’s passing defensive numbers later this week but on the surface, the Nits are doing a great job in pass defense and Reed is a key part.
I still think that there is a lot of opportunity there for Ohio State, but a lot of things have to go right along the way to be able to exploit some weaknesses that I see potentially emerging.
If it feels like these teams have played forever, you would be wrong as there have been just 38 meetings, granted it goes all the way back to 1912.
Penn State won the first four meetings in the series, one in the 1910s, one in the 50s and then a pair in the 1960s.
The two teams have played early since 1993, an Ohio State win, once Penn State joined the conference. Since moving to yearly, Penn State only has eight wins and has never won back-to-back games in the series as conference mates of the Buckeyes.
Ohio State is on a six-game winning streak, the longest winning streak in series history for either side.
2016-2018 saw three straight years of close game with decisions all a field goal or smaller with the Buckeyes winning two of those three and the lone loss took place in Happy Valley with a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown.
That 2016 is Penn State’s last win in the series and Penn State has not won in Columbus since 2011, the year that Ohio State ultimately ended up going 6-7 on the season.
In the last four meetings, all Ohio State wins, the Buckeyes have won all four games by two scores, so games have been close-ish but the Buckeyes had control of all of the games, eventually.