Penn State faces No. 4 Ohio State on Saturday in Columbus, Ohio. Here’s a closer look:
Penn State at Ohio State
Ohio Stadium - Columbus, Ohio
Saturday, 8 p.m., ESPN
Scouting Penn State
The Nittany Lions (4-2), idle last week, beat Michigan in quadruple overtime Oct. 12 in Beaver Stadium, on a two-yard run by tailback Bill Belton. Christian Hackenberg threw for 305 yards and three touchdowns in the game, and directed a five-play, 80-yard touchdown drive in the final minute of regulation to tie it.
Overall, Hackenberg has completed 58.4 percent of his passes for a Big Ten-best 1,672 yards and 11 touchdowns. He has been intercepted six times. Allen Robinson, whose leaping 36-yard catch set up Hackenberg’s sneak for the tying TD against the Wolverines, has a conference-leading 43 grabs this season, for 705 yards and five scores. Belton (369 yards rushing, 5.3 ypg) is listed as the co-starter at his position this week with Zach Zwinak (393, 4.3), who continues to have fumble problems. Coach Bill O’Brien said that both will play Saturday.
Scouting Ohio State
The Buckeyes (7-0), fourth in the BCS rankings, have won all 19 games they have played since Urban Meyer took over as coach before last season. Last week, they defeated Iowa, 34-24, as Carlos Hyde ran 24 times for 149 yards and two touchdowns, including the go-ahead 19-yard score in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Braxton Miller also went 22 for 27 for 222 yards and two scores, and ran 18 times for 102 yards.
Hyde, who missed the season’s first two games while serving a disciplinary suspension, has rushed for 317 yards in his last two outings, 443 overall. Miller sat out two games (and the better part of a third) with a knee injury earlier this season, but has completed 69.6 percent of his passes to date, for 831 yards and eight touchdowns. He has been intercepted twice. His top targets are Philly Brown (33-453, six TDs) and Devin Smith (30-434-6).
Ohio State leads the all-time series 15-13, though the Lions’ victories in 1999, 2001, ’05, ’08 and ‘11 have been vacated under terms of the NCAA sanctions handed down in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual-abuse scandal.
Storyline to watch
The Lions have allowed 84 points in two conference games to date. Can they slow an OSU offense that averages a conference-leading 45 points a game (seventh-most in the country)?
What’s at stake?
It’s a border war and a battle between two teams who are as much rivals in recruiting as on the field. To the winner go the spoils.