The Nittany Lions didn’t open the 2020 season as they would have hope to last weekend at Indiana. Penn State did not play clean football like it is used to. The offense had three turnovers; two interceptions and a lost fumble. Further, the Nittany Lions were penalized for 95 yards on Saturday. This is very out of the ordinary for a Penn State team that is usually very disciplined. One of those penalties resulted in the ejection of starting linebacker Jesse Luketa. Luketa will be out of the first half against the Buckeyes due to a targeting penalty in the second half against Indiana. Penn State hosts Ohio State on Halloween and will have to play a complete game to get back on track.
Penn State Hosts Ohio State on Halloween
College GameDay is going to be in Happy Valley for the fourth season in a row on Saturday for the matchup with Ohio State. This is usually the White Out game with 107,000-plus fans all dressed in white. The stadium is usually very loud, which is a Penn State advantage. This year, however, there will not be a White Out and there will only be friends and family in attendance. Home field advantage is taking on an entirely new meaning.
Even with the penalties, the turnovers, and the three missed field goals, the Nittany Lions almost won on Saturday. If they would have played Penn State football and played a complete game the outcome likely would have been much different. Bottom line, never leave the game in the hands of the referee. What does Penn State have to do to beat Ohio State on Halloween?
Play a Complete Four Quarters
Head Coach James Franklin stated in his weekly press conference that Penn State needs to play a complete game on Saturday. In their season opener, the Buckeyes beat Nebraska 52-17. That score does not show that Nebraska played with Ohio State throughout the first half. The Buckeyes led 24-14 going into the half. Then, the Huskers couldn’t keep up and only scored three points in the second half. The second half was not the issue for the Nittany Lions a week ago, well the entire game wasn’t great, but the offense came alive in the second half. Penn State will have to play four complete quarters to be right there at the end.
Win the Turnover Battle
Quarterback Sean Clifford needs to be smart with the football. He threw two interceptions in the first half against Indiana and that cannot happen this week against Ohio State. Further, back-up quarterback Will Levis who is used as a wildcat type guy accounted for a fumble on the Indiana seven yard line. Lamont Wade finally got the Nittany Lions on the turnover board in the third quarter with an interception, but that was the only turnover for Indiana. Bottom line, Penn State needs to protect the football against a strong Buckeye defense on Saturday. Further, the Nittany Lion defense will need to hurry Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields into making some mistakes. This won’t be easy. Fields completed 95% of this passes on Saturday. He also accounted for three total touchdowns; one rushing and two receiving.
Final Thoughts on Penn State vs Ohio State
The Nittany Lions did not play their best football against Indiana. This does not mean that the season is over, even if it is much shorter than usual. The loss to start the season means that Penn State players need to find their confidence again. This wouldn’t be the first time an unexpected loss led to a strong season. Clifford seems ready to play. The signal-caller told Lions247, “I’m not here to hang with Ohio State. I’m here to beat Ohio State “. If he wants that to happen, the Nittany Lions need to play a much better complete game of football on Halloween.
Penn State will be without not one running back now in Journey Brown, but also without Noah Cain. It was announced this week that Cain will be out for the entire season. The young group of Devyn Ford, Keyvone Lee, and Caziah Holmes will all need to play with confidence this weekend.
Ohio State wide receiver Chris Olave’s status is also in question after taking a big hit against Nebraska. Head Coach Ryan Day stated this week that Olave has had a good, strong week at practice. If he can go at a full 100% that will be huge for the Buckeyes.