4. OSU at its best and Penn State at its worst
As noted earlier, the Nittany Lions have been better in the last few seasons than they were before 2016. The Buckeyes have also been good in the last few seasons, but they haven’t been at their best or even near that mark for that matter.
The Lions’ win over the Buckeyes in 2016 was an anomaly because neither team played well. There wasn’t much scoring and just one turnover. However, there’s just one difference that needs to be known: The Nittany Lions’ roster was full of talent and had some of the best players they’ve ever had all on one team. Yet, they were still barely able to win and needed a long blocked kick returned for a touchdown to win the game.
Even with that touchdown off the blocked kick, the Buckeyes were still given ample opportunity to win the game. This shows that even when the Buckeyes were at their worst and the Nittany Lions were at their best then it’s still a closely played game. The Buckeyes of 2016 are nothing like the team on the field this year.
Two years ago, the Bucks’ offense featured the dynamic trio of J.T. Barrett, Curtis Samuel, and redshirt freshman Mike Weber. As many may remember, this trio was very exclusive as the offense didn’t hand out touches to anyone except those three. Adding Mike Weber to that conversation is even stretching it as the vast majority of the offense came from Barrett and Samuel.
This was a major problem as the offense became extremely stagnant when those three could not produce concurrently. The Buckeyes also had different coordinators offensively and defensively. The team made huge upgrades in each area as they added former Indiana Hoosiers head coach Kevin Wilson and former NFL quarterbacks coach Ryan Day to be offensive coordinators. The defense is now being led by former NFL head coach Greg Schiano.
The Nittany Lions had all of that NFL talent and still could not overcome the Buckeyes last year who had questions on defense and offense. The Bucks’ offense was very limited with J.T. Barrett at the helm and Penn State made him look like a superstar. The very talented offense of the Nittany Lions could not overcome the Buckeyes last season as the Bucks prevailed 39-38 in Columbus.
There is little reason to look at this game like it’s going to be similar to any of the match ups in the past. Both teams look very different but the main thing to see is the Buckeyes are trending up and the Nittany Lions are trending down. Expect the Buckeyes to have success against a depleted Penn State team.