Penn State will be coming into Columbus Oct. 21 for the Buckeyes second top 10 matchup of the season, but this is going to be the toughest challenge yet for Ohio State’s offense.
The No. 7-ranked Nittany Lions defense is far and away No. 1 in terms of total defense, only allowing 193.7 yards per game this season. They are almost 40 yards ahead of Michigan, who is second in the country allowing 233.1 yards per game.
“This is a very good team, a very good defense, certainly,” Ryan Day said. “It’s well documented that they’re the best defense in the country, statistically. They have a lot of guys returning off the last year’s team.”
Penn State is also top in the country in yards per play allowed with 3.4 – the only team under four – passing defense, allowing 121.2 yards per game through the air, second in scoring defense with only 8.0 points allowed per game and third in rushing defense. No team the Buckeyes have played yet this year have had even close to as strong of a résumé as Penn State’s defense does.
However, for the Nittany Lions, the Buckeyes offense is something they haven’t had to deal with yet this year with their best win coming over an Iowa team that has struggled on the offensive end of the ball so far. With first-year quarterback Kyle McCord throwing for 275.2 yards per game, the best wide receiver in college football in Marvin Harrison Jr., and the deep rushing attack Ohio State brings, they are certainly going to be a bigger problem for Penn State than any other offense has been.
One thing the Nittany Lions have been good at is forcing turnovers with 13 total, seven interceptions and six fumbles recovered. Day said it’s been a big emphasis with McCord that he needs to protect the football in this game since he has had a little trouble with fumbles in his first season.
“The No. 1 most important thing is the football and that’s going to be the way this weekend,” Day said. “It’s a huge part of the game, and we’ve got to take care of the football across the board. You’ve got to make great decisions. Know when to cut your losses. Have a have a plan for when it goes the way that you expect it to, but have a plan for when it goes sideways… Let’s not make bad plays any worse.”