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Tale of the Tape: Penn State

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With Ohio State on the open week last week, most of Buckeye Nation did a little amateur scouting of the Michigan vs. Penn State on television (Columbus led all television markets in ratings, even surpassing Detroit). What did Ohio State fans see? Penn State just beat 'that team up north' on both sides of the ball six ways from Sunday. Jim Harbaugh's team was never in this game and Penn State likely could have scored more against the former No. 1 total defense in the nation.

Is Penn State that good or is Michigan that bad? Well, we do know that there are a lot of issues with this Michigan team and Ohio State will find out about that in a month but all attention is turned to Penn State at this point, a team that is right there with Ohio State (and likely Wisconsin) on top of the conference.

Fans know who Saquon Barkley, Trace McSorley and James Franklin are but might not know much more about Penn State than that. We have broken down Ohio State's next opponent during the open week and hope to provide a little more clarity about the next foe up in this week's Tale of the Tape.

Saquon Barkley is one of the the top backs in the nation
Saquon Barkley is one of the the top backs in the nation
OSU Offense vs. Penn State Defense
Ohio State Stat Rank Penn State Stat Rank

Rushing Offense

250.6 YPG

18th

Rushing Defense

115.3 YPG

17th

Passing Offense

326.7 YPG

12th

Pass Eff. Defense

94.02

1st

Scoring Offense

47.3 PPG

2nd

Scoring Defense

9.6 PPG

1st

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

Let's rewind to 2016 for a second and look at the game that the Ohio State skill had at Penn State under 'adverse' situations. J.T. Barrett was 28-43 throwing the ball for 245 yards and a touchdown along with rushing 17 times for 26 yards. 43 attempts and 28 completions were both career highs for Barrett and really the biggest issue he had in that game is he was planted to the grass six times as the offensive line struggled as the game wore on to protect him. One of the other biggest stats that jumps off the page is that 23 of Barrett's 28 completions went to non-WRs (Curtis Samuel - 8, Mike Weber - 8, Marcus Baugh - 5, Dontre Wilson - 2). That means five passes were completed to wide receivers. Good luck with that. Okay, back to the 2017 team and an offense that 'appears' to be much more in sync but has yet to be truly tested since the loss to Oklahoma. Barrett has not thrown for less than 65-percent in any game over the past give and in that time has thrown for 18 touchdowns (Trace McSorley has thrown for 14, all season long). The Buckeyes will get Parris Campbell back who missed most of the Nebraska game as he took a hard hit to the head and had to go through the concussion protocol. That did not slow the Ohio State offense down as Barrett threw for five touchdowns in the game, two to KJ Hill and one apiece to Marcus Baugh, Terry McLaurin and Rashod Berry. This will be Ohio State's greatest test in terms of a top secondary to face during this regular season (PSU is 1 or 2 in almost every major passing defensive stat in conference play) but have the Lions faced a team that operates as much horizontally as the Buckeyes do? This will be a solid test and the Buckeyes just have to stay within their own game plan and not allow Penn State to force them to improvise and revert to the panic offense that has failed Ohio State in most, if not all, of Ohio State's seven losses under Urban Meyer.

As mentioned above, Penn State's pass defense is very good. We won't take anything away from the athletes that they roll out there in their defensive secondary. The question we do raise is the level of competition that Penn State has faced in terms of its direct correlation to the gaudy pass defense numbers. Penn State has faced one team that ranks nationally in the top-40 of passing offense and that was Georgia State, a 3-3 team with wins against teams that the casual fan would not be able to pick out of a simple police lineup. Penn State did what it was supposed to do in that game, held the GSU QBs to 18-32 passing for 170 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions in a 56-0 pummeling. But who is the next best pass offense that Penn State has faced? Northwestern at 43? Indiana at 58? Yes, Indiana torched the Buckeyes in week one via the pass, but Richard Lagow also played the best game of his career and now is riding the pine for the Hoosiers, and that was week one. A lot has changed since week one. Nate Stanley of Iowa had a night against Penn State with an efficient 13-22 for 191 yards and two scores. Iowa has to be ranked decently in pass offense, right? Wrong. They are 71st. Enough focusing on why the Penn State pass defense may not be all that it seems and to focus on the solid players they roll out there. Four senior starters, safety Marcus Allen has made plays against Ohio State and nobody in that unit will be intimidated by Ohio Stadium or the scope of this game. Corner Christian Campbell has great size as a 6-foot-1 corner who checks in close to 200 pounds and he will be able to play physically against the Ohio State receivers. Something is going to have to give, Penn State has only allowed three passing touchdowns all season long, J.T. Barrett has passed for at least three touchdowns in five of his seven games this season. EDGE: Ohio State

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