The Ohio State football team has its biggest test of the season so far this Saturday when Penn State comes to town. It will be the first time the Buckeyes will be tested at home, and probably the only time. This is by far the biggest home game they have this season.
Penn State comes in with a top-ranked defense and some efficiency on offense. While they haven’t really played anyone yet, the teams they have played have been beaten soundly by the Nittany Lions. They are a good team that always plays Ohio State tough.
Ohio State is coming off their most complete performance of the season against Purdue. A 41-7 victory should give them confidence on both sides of the ball that they can play one of their best games of the season to take down the invading Nittany Lions.
There are three big keys to this game in my eyes. Ohio State has to play their “A” game to beat Penn State. That means doing all three of these things in the Shoe on Saturday afternoon. Failure to do even one of these things could mean eating a loss.
The first key has to do with the offensive line.
1. The Ohio State football team must play well up front
There is no bigger weakness on this Ohio State football team than the offensive line. They have had problems running the ball because the front can’t win at the line of scrimmage. That leaves no holes open for the running backs to get through and get yards.
At least the offensive line had done fairly well in pass protection. That ended on Saturday against Purdue. Kyle McCord was running for his life almost every time he dropped back to pass. He still was throwing dimes and ended up playing his best game of the season.
That’s not sustainable though. Penn State has the best defense in the country. They only allow 193 total yards per game. That’s 30 more yards than the next-best team. In order for the Buckeyes to move the ball, they have to give McCord time in the pocket and open up holes in the running game.
A failure to win the line of scrimmage would be absolutely catastrophic for the Buckeyes. This is the most important thing they have to do in order to beat Penn State. If they lose the battle up front, they might lose by two touchdowns.
The second thing Ohio State has to do to win this game has to do with turnovers.