When Penn State Has The Ball
- Quarterback - Once again, this is an obvious key, but with debates raging over who should be under center for the Lions, this is certainly a position that could make or break the game. Matt McGloin is coming off a performance that included the best half of football played by this team, one that included four straight scoring drives to put Northwestern out of the game. If that Penn State team shows up to play, this could be a very close game.
- Offensive playcalling - Typical of the Big Ten football mold, when two teams of this caliber get together, the offensive playbooks tend to shrink and the coaches are content with conservative calls. The coaches' view is that field position and the lack of turnovers (forcing the other team to make a mistake) are the keys. However, this Penn State team has some big time playmakers, as shown in recent weeks, so getting the ball into their hands any way possible is going to be important.
No one has been talking lately about Royster being a major disappointment this season. He carried a career-high 29 times for 150 yards against Michigan two weeks ago, and he ran for 134 yards on 25 carries Saturday against Northwestern.
When Ohio State Has The Ball
- Speed of the game - Similarly, Ohio State has some big playmakers in Jeannette native Terrelle Pryor, DeVier Posey, and Dan "Boom" Herron. If Tom Bradley and the Penn State defensive coaches can keep the Ohio State's offensive tempo relatively stalled, the Buckeyes might look to new ways to make plays, and that opens the opportunity for mistakes.
- Home crowd - The Big Ten is home to three of the biggest stadiums in the country. Luckily, the Nittany Lions play their home games in one. Unfortunately, they will play this game in another. Ohio Stadium will be rocking by game time. If the Lions can keep the Buckeyes from scoring early, they might be able to take the crowd out of the game, or at least take them out long enough for the offense to get in a score of their own.
- The Joe Paterno Factor - Joe got his 400th victory a week ago, but will be looking to get 401 against an old foe in Ohio State. With his time at Penn State drawing closer and closer to an end, the players possibly sense the need to send Division 1's winningest coach ever out on a high note.
- Ohio State Bye Week Curse? - Ohio State is 12-9 all time in games following a bye week, including a 2-4 mark for Jim Tressel coached Ohio State teams. This bodes well for Penn State, who took care of the only other team they faced off their bye week, Michigan.
- Visiting Team Advantage - Each of the last three meetings between these teams have been won by the visiting team.
The Penn State-Ohio State matchup has become one of the marquee matchups of the Big Ten schedule. If not for an early-season Nittany Lions loss to Illinois, this game would once again have Big Ten championship implications (and if the Lions pull out the upset, Ohio State's Big Ten championship hopes are effectively dashed). Contrary to Adam's prediction, I think the Lions are peaking at the right time and that they pull out the incredible upset...
Penn State 20, Ohio State 13