As part of Lameday II, The Daily Cardinal takes a look around the Big Ten for this week’s biggest matchups and storylines.
No. 3 Ohio State at No. 18 Penn State — 7:30 PM ET, ABC
After a blowout 52-17 win against Nebraska (0-1), No. 3 Ohio State (1-0) looks to continue their momentum against No. 18 Penn State (0-1). Penn State is coming off of a heartbreaking loss to No. 17 Indiana (1-0) by a score of 36-35 this past weekend.
Penn State will pose as a stronger opponent for Ohio State than Nebraska was a week ago. Penn State’s loss to Indiana was uncharacteristic, especially considering Penn State gained twice as many yards on offense as the Hoosiers (488 to 211). If Penn State limits turnovers and makes their field goals, this upcoming game will be competitive.
Since last year, 10 NFL Draft selections have been lost from the Ohio State roster. Most notable is the loss of star running back J.K Dobbins (Baltimore) and edge rusher Chase Young (Washington). There is still strong talent present with Justin Fields at quarterback and running back Trey Sermon.
Penn State is also losing some considerable players this year. Reigning All-American and Big Ten Linebacker of the Year Micah Parsons opted out of the 2020 season to pursue the NFL Draft, and sophomore linebacker Jesse Luketa will be suspended for the first half due to targeting against an Indiana player last weekend. There is still talent on the defensive end with senior Shaka Toney; he had seven tackles and two sacks in the season opener and is a significant step up on the edge compared to what Ohio State encountered against Nebraska.
These past few years, Penn State has been the most consistently competitive team Ohio State has faced. Penn State beat Ohio State in 2016, only lost by one point in 2017 and 2018, and was the only team the Buckeyes faced in 2019 to score as many as 24 points.
The 2016 victory over Ohio State was a turning point for Penn State and Head Coach James Franklin. Penn State has ranked in the top-10 of college rankings for the past four years. Despite this, Ohio State has been a major problem throughout those years.
With a victory, Ohio State would drop their biggest competition in the Big Ten East to 0-2. In the last 18 seasons, Penn State has started the season with back to back losses only once, back in 2012. When considering only conference opponents, the Nittany Lions haven’t started 0-2 since 2010. The program has changed a lot since then, but a loss to Ohio State will further cement the program’s struggles against the Big Ten’s most dominant team.
Penn State will be looking forward to home-field advantage this upcoming game. Since 2016, they have gone 26-2 in Beaver Stadium, with the two defeats coming in back-to-back games against Michigan and Ohio State.
However, PSU’s home-field advantage might not be as influential due to COVID-19 restrictions. Usually, Penn State has “white-out” games against Ohio State which prompts some of the college football's loudest moments and most unique visuals of the season. The white-out game will not be happening with the COVID-19 safety protocols and restrictions.
Rutgers at No. 17 Indiana — 3:30 ET, BTN
Another highly anticipated matchup this week is between No. 17 Indiana (1-0) and Rutgers (1-0). Both teams were considered underdogs last week but still came out with big wins. Indiana’s victory over Penn State last week was the first top-10 opponent the Hoosiers have taken down in 33 years, dating back to 1987.
Rutgers win — while less exciting — was arguably the bigger upset, taking down Michigan State 38-27. Rutgers had lost 21 Big Ten games in a row headed into the opener, as the program looks to head back in the winning direction under Head Coach Greg Schiano.
While Indiana started the season unranked, a flurry of losses helped boost them to No. 17 in the nation, the highest rank Indiana football has achieved since 1993. Both these teams are coming off of big wins and are looking to continue to push their momentum forward.