Ohio State vs. Penn State: 5 things to know about Nittany Lions

Ohio State football coach Ryan Day did not say much about Penn State after his team beat Purdue 41-7 on Saturday.

His Penn State counterpart, James Franklin, flat out refused to speak of the third-ranked Buckeyes after his team trounced Massachusetts 63-0.

“There’s things you know I’m not gonna answer, but you ask,” Franklin said to reporters in State College.

“I think more than anything, we want to be 1-0 each week,” he continued later. “That’s the obvious thing, and we were able to do that up to this point. The other thing that’s important to me is, are we getting better each week? And I feel like we’re doing that.”

Here are five things to know about the Nittany Lions and the series with Ohio State:

1. Penn State is undefeated.

The seventh-ranked Nittany Lions opened the season with a 38-15 at home over West Virginia, which only lost once since that night.

Then Penn State crushed FCS Delaware 63-7 and won 30-13 at Illinois.

After returning home to hold Iowa to 76 total yards in a 31-0 win, the Nittany Lions won at Northwestern 41-13, took a week off then trounced the Minutemen.

2. In its second year under coordinator Manny Diaz, the Penn State defense looks like one of the best in the country.

The Nittany Lions are No. 1 in total defense (193.7 yards per game) and yards per play (3.42) while ranking second in scoring defense (8.0 points allowed per game).

Penn State also leads the country in sacks (4.5 per game) and is fifth in tackles for loss (8.5 per game).

Adissa Isaac leads the Big Ten with .83 sacks per game while Demeioun “Chop” Robinson is fifth with .5. Seven other Nittany Lions have at least three tackles for loss this season.

3. The offense has not produced many fireworks.

Penn State entered the season with high expectations on offense because of new starting quarterback Drew Allar, who was a five-star prospect coming out of Medina, Ohio, last year, and the return of sophomore running backs Kaytron Allen and Nicholas Singleton.

So far, the unit has been somewhat pedestrian, but it has not needed to do much with the defense dominating.

“I think it’s been an ideal situation,” Franklin said. “We’ve been able to get a first-time starter a ton of experience with normal downs, two-minute situations, and third down situations. It’s an ideal situation with how the offensive linemen and left tackle that’s playing well with a running game that’s effective.”

Allar is 118-for-181 passing for 1,254 yards and 12 touchdowns with no interceptions.

“The thing that makes me feel good about Drew is that he’s very humble and his approach is consistent,” Franklin said.

Allar threw for 325 yards in the season-opening win against WVU but has not thrown for more than 208 since as the Nittany Lions have not played another competitive game.

Allen has 375 yards on 78 carries while Singleton has 362 yards on 89 carries. They have combined for nine touchdowns, but neither has a run of more than 20 yards this season.

KeAndre Lambert-Smith is the only Nittany Lion with more than 200 yards receiving. He has caught 31 passes for 402 yards and three touchdowns, including a 72-yarder.

4. Very few big plays have occurred in Penn State games this season.

The Nittany Lions are No. 1 in the nation in plays of 10 or more allowed (43) this season while Ohio State is fourth (53).

Penn State is No. 2 in 20-yard-plus plays (10) and tied for 3rd in 30-plus plays (5).

PSU has allowed one play of more than 40 yards this season while Ohio State is one of three teams that have allowed none (Air Force, Rutgers).

But on the other side of the ball, Penn State has not created many explosives, either.

The Lions average 5.53 yards per play on offense (ranking 78th), and they are 85th in plays of 10 yards or more, 129th in plays of 20-plus yards (16), 118th in plays over 30 yards (8) and last in the country (133rd) in plays of 40 or more with one.

5. Ohio State has won six in a row in the series.

Penn State won the first four meetings (1912, ‘56, ‘63, ‘64), but Ohio State has dominated more recently.

Overall, the Buckeyes lead 24-14, including 20-8 since the Nittany Lions joined the Big Ten in 1993.

In Columbus, Ohio State is 14-7 against Penn State with only two losses since ‘93.

The Nittany Lions last won at Ohio Stadium in 2011, a 20-14 final. They also triumphed 13-6 in 2008 when both teams were ranked in the top 10.

Both teams have been ranked in this matchup every year since 2017.


Penn State at Ohio State, Noon., Fox, 1410

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