Ohio State Football Schedule Prep: Penn State Nittany Lions

Penn State head coach James Franklin greets freshman quarterback Drew Allar during pre-game warmups at Beaver Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, in State College.Hes Dr 112622 Psumsu
Penn State head coach James Franklin greets freshman quarterback Drew Allar during pre-game warmups at Beaver Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, in State College.Hes Dr 112622 Psumsu /

The Ohio State football team takes on the Penn State Nittany Lions on October 21st in Columbus. Here is what you need to know about this big game.

In the latest installment of our Ohio State football schedule prep series, we look ahead to a late October showdown with Penn State. This is always one of the most exciting games of the season when these two teams meet. It’s such a shame that the Big Ten doesn’t value this rivalry as it will not be a protected game once USC and UCLA join the conference.

But at least for the next two seasons, we will get to see these two top programs in the Big Ten battle as the 2023 version should be an excellent contest.

James Franklin will be entering his 10th season as the Penn State head coach and has compiled a record of 78-36 while in Happy Valley. The program has been in very good hands since Franklin has taken over but his 49-30 conference record to go along with his 2-15 record against top 10 opponents leaves some Nittany Lions fans wanting more.

But there is hope in Happy Valley as its prized five-star quarterback and Ohio native, Drew Allar is poised to have a big season. Allar received valuable playing time down the stretch last year as a true freshman as Franklin and his staff believe Allar is ready to take the next step. Allar has a rocket of an arm and a gunslinger mentality.

Although he only attempted 60 passes last year, Allar did throw for 344 yards and had four touchdowns compared to zero interceptions. If he can take care of the ball and continue his progression as a passer, the sky is the limit for not only Allar but also the Penn State football team.

Offensively, Penn State has some weapons for Allar’s disposal. Top amongst them is tailback Nicholas Singleton who as a freshman ran for over 1,000 yards and had 12 touchdowns. Singleton also averaged a whopping 6.8 yards per rush last year, so this Buckeye defense needs to key in on him. Ohio State did keep him in check last year, only rushing for 45 yards so hopefully Jim Knowles and company can do the same in Columbus.

On the outside, the player to watch is KeAndre Lambert-Smith. The third-year wide-out is set to take over as the No. 1 option for Allar and has big play ability, recording over 200 yards receiving in his last two games of 2022. He has great speed as the Buckeye secondary will have to avoid him from getting over the top on them.

Defensively, Penn State was very solid last year under first-year coordinator Manny Diaz. His attacking style of defense seems to suit the Nittany Lions well. They are led by pass-rusher Chop Robinson upfront who figures to be in the conversation for Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year by season’s end. The junior transfer from Maryland showed some elite pass-rushing ability a year ago and was an All-Big Ten honorable mention during his first season in Happy Valley.

In the back end, Kalen King is the heir apparent to outgoing NFL draft pick Joey Porter Jr. and in all honesty, I thought outplayed Porter in the Ohio State game a season ago. Going into his third season in the program, King had 30 tackles and three picks in 2022. He is garnering buzz as a potential first-round NFL Draft pick in 2024.

Next. Ohio State Football Schedule Prep: Notre Dame Fighting Irish. dark

Overall, this should be a really fun game to watch for fans, as it usually is. Penn State will no doubt be one of the more talented teams that the Buckeyes have to face in 2023. With this game being in Ohio Stadium, I expect the Buckeyes to come out victorious, but the Nittany Lions are more than capable of pulling off the upset. Especially if Drew Allar lives up to the preseason hype.