Ohio State Football: Zone 6 must step up against Penn State

COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 7: Johnnie Dixon
COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 7: Johnnie Dixon /

If Zone 6 performs well, it will open up the Ohio State running game.

It’s late October and Big Ten games will often be played in bad weather the rest of the season. Teams will attempt to play ball control football and defenses will stack the box in order to stop the running game. That will be the case when Ohio State faces Penn State today.

It will be important for the Buckeye receiving corps, known as Zone 6, to perform well to keep the Nittany Lions’ defense on their heels, and put less than eight players in the box. If that’s the case, the Ohio State offensive line will have an opportunity to open holes for JK Dobbins, Mike Weber and JT Barrett to run the ball successfully.

It would be a bonus if Barrett can hit a receiver in a deep ball or two. But if the Buckeyes can hit on a few 10+yard passes early on in the game, it will loosen the Nittany Lions’ linebackers and safeties.

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During Ohio State’s five game winning streak, several players have shown the ability to make those kinds of plays. Sophomore wideouts Binjimen Victor and Austin Mack have come on strong of late with 20 and 14 receptions respectively.

Two junior wide receivers are performing well. Terry McLaurin has 20 receptions through seven games and Johnnie Dixon 10. Dixon is also averaging 27.6 yards per catch. All four above mentioned players are averaging at least 11.5 yards per reception.

The H backs are performing at a high level as well. Parris Campbell has caught 27 passes for 394 yards and two touchdowns. KJ Hill is leading the team with 28 receptions for 274 yards and 3 scores.

However, the players in Zone 6 will have two challenges when playing against Penn State they haven’t had to face so far yet this season. They will have to catch the ball during cold nasty weather, and go up against a pass defense ranked in the top 10 nationally.

But if the Ohio State receivers can overcome those challenges and perform well, that should allow the Buckeye running game to thrive. The Nittany Lion defense will simply have to respect the pass or give up big plays downfield.

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If that is the case, the Buckeye offense may continue to roll. And Ohio State will have a very good chance to defeat Penn State and stay in playoff contention.