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Tale of the Tape: Penn State

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The Buckeyes are now into the second half of the season with six games under their belt and while not every game was a perfect game, the Buckeyes still have a perfect record with dreams of playing in Indianapolis for the B1G Championship still very much alive and well.

Penn State is sitting at 4-2 on the season and only has one loss in the B1G, to the Wolverines of Michigan in a game that was not even all that close. As long as Ohio State and Michigan keep winning, there are going to be people that are going to compare the two teams based on how they play common opponents. That has already been done with Rutgers and Wisconsin and now will be carried over to how the Buckeyes look against the Nittany Lions of Penn State, forgetting the fact that Ohio State is traveling to State College (Pa.) while the Wolverines played Penn State (and pretty much everyone on their schedule to date) at Michigan Stadium.

Putting all of that aside, this game is not about playing against national perceptions or other artificial markers, it is about playing the team lining up against you. The Buckeyes know they cannot get lost in all of that 'white noise' at this point of the season or all of the talk and conversations of an undefeated Ohio State and Michigan facing off will mean nothing because someone will rise up and knock off a distracted Ohio State team.

So we are putting the Ohio State vs. Penn State game in focus in our weekly Tale of the Tape. The Nittany Lions have taken some steps forward from past teams with players like Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkley, but will it be enough to overcome being close to a three touchdown underdog? We break it down and attempt to come up with some things to watch for in determining how this game will go.

Can Trace McSorley lead the Nittany Lions to the upset win?
Can Trace McSorley lead the Nittany Lions to the upset win? (USA Today Sports Images)
OSU Defense vs. Penn State Offense
OSU Category Stat Rank PSU Category Stat Rank

Rushing Defense

120.8 YPG

20th

Rushing Offense

152.2 YPG

88th

Pass Eff. Defense

89.38

4th

Passing Offense

239.3 YPG

53rd

Scoring Defense

12.8 PPG

3rd

Scoring Offense

30.5 PPG

T61st

Ohio State Defensive Backs vs. Penn State QB/WR/TE

It is time for our weekly look at just how great the Ohio State secondary is playing this season. Yes, Wisconsin did throw for 214 yards and a touchdown last week but the Buckeyes did pull in a crucial interception (Gareon Conley) that led to a short field and an Ohio State touchdown and Conley had a second interception taken away by the replay booth at the end of the 4th quarter. With that being said, a lot of what Wisconsin accomplished was in terms of finding the tight end either open and against a linebacker or just hitting the soft seams in the zone when the Buckeyes were not in man coverage. Malik Hooker had another big game in terms of hitting offensive players and getting them to the ground but it was Marshon Lattimore that led the secondary with tackles, nine of them, seven being solo. The last time that Ohio State went to Happy Valley (2014) the Nittany Lions threw the ball 49 times in four quarters and two overtimes. It may be a little bit of a stretch to see the Nittany Lions trying to go down that avenue again but the Ohio State secondary will need to be aware of Penn State using the extra week off (much like Wisconsin) and trying to do some different things that have not been on tape for the first six weeks of the season. Penn State's run/pass ratio has been tilted slightly toward the run (56-44) as it should be with a talented running back like Saquon Barkley leading the way, but more on him in a little bit.

The Buckeyes won't have Christian Hackenberg to kick around any longer, this is now Trace McSorley's team, well, at least he is the quarterback for Penn State now. McSorley is throwing at a 58-percent clip and is averaging 239 yards per game with eight touchdowns on the year against three interceptions. Penn State has done a good job of spreading the ball around with five players who have double-digit receptions but at the top it is Chris Godwin and tight end Mike Gesicki with 23 apiece. The tandem each have two touchdowns apiece as well, half of the Penn State total. Gesicki is the player that the Buckeyes will really need to keep an eye on after Troy Fumagalli went wild with seven of Wisconsin's 16 receptions last week. DeAndre Thompkins and DaeSean Hamilton each have 18 receptions apiece and one touchdown through six games of the season. Hamilton had 14 receptions against Ohio State in 2014 as Penn State identified something in the Ohio State defense and went after it repeatedly. While Wisconsin and Penn State have offenses that really don't look all that much alike, the Badgers did not do the Nittany Lions many favors by exposing a few weak points in the Ohio State defense. The Buckeyes now have the week to shore those up and Penn State may not be able to walk into this game and surprise the Buckeyes with an athletic tight end having seen one just a game ago.

Advantage: Ohio State

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