Ohio State-Penn State matchups


Ohio State defensive end Tyquan Lewis sacks Maryland quarterback Perry Hills. Lewis leads OSU with 5.5 sacks. MIKE ULLERY/Civitas Media


QUARTERBACKS

The first game of using J.T. Barrett as a change of pace from starter Cardale Jones inside the 20-yard line produced one of Ohio State’s best offensive games of the season in a 49-28 win over Maryland last week. OSU will use the same plan this week.

Penn State junior Christian Hackenberg (1,086 yards, 7 TDs) is an NFL prospect according to some experts and overrated according to others. There is no denying his strong arm or his toughness, though. He has been sacked 84 times in 31 career games.

Advantage: Ohio State

RUNNING BACKS

Ezekiel Elliott (835 yards) ranks fourth nationally but running back depth is not a strength for OSU.

Penn State’s top two running backs, freshman Saquon Barkley (386 yards) and Akeel Lynch (262 yards) did not play in a 29-7 win over Indiana last week or the Army game two weeks ago because of injuries. Barkley could be back this week.

Advantage: Ohio State

WIDE RECEIVERS

Michael Thomas (27 catches, 399 yards) got some much-needed help from other receivers last week when Braxton Miller caught five passes and Jalin Marshall had four catches and both scored against Maryland.

Chris Godwin (27 catches, 390 yards) has been Penn State’s No.1 receiver so far. DaeSean Hamilton caught 14 passes against OSU last year when the Buckeyes won 31-24 in double overtime.

Advantage: Ohio State

OFFENSIVE LINE

OSU’s line has not dominated as much as expected, but the Buckeyes OSU still lead the Big Ten in scoring at 36.8 points a game and are averaging the same number of yards per running play (5.8) as in 2014.

Penn State’s offensive line had nowhere to go but up after allowing 10 sacks in a 27-10 loss to undefeated Temple in its opener. Since then it has permitted only nine sacks and has won five in a row.

Advantage: Ohio State

DEFENSIVE LINE

Ohio State’s front four will be challenged to improve against the run after allowing 189 yards, 176 yard and 182 yards on the ground the last three weeks.

Penn State defensive end Carl Nassib, a former walk-on, leads the country with 10 sacks. Defensive tackle Anthony Zettel was first-team All-Big Ten last year and defensive tackle Austin Johnson has 3.5 sacks. Penn State’s 25 sacks lead the Big Ten.

Advantage: Penn State

LINEBACKERS

OSU middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan says he wants to make every tackle in his area. He hasn’t missed many lately with 38 tackles in the last three games.

Jason Cabinda (46 tackles, 2 sacks) and two-year starter Brandon Bell are the Nittany Lions’ leaders at this position.

Advantage: Ohio State

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Vonn Bell’s cover skills give Ohio State above average flexibility in its defensive backfield. What the Buckeyes don’t have is depth because of injuries and a suspension.

Safety Jordan Lucas is a three-year starter for Penn State. Freshman cornerback John Reid leads the team with two interceptions.

Advantage: Ohio State

SPECIAL TEAMS

Jack Willoughby’s longest field goal of the season is 31 yards. Could last year’s kicker, Sean Nuernberger, get another chance if OSU needs a long field goal? He made five of 40 yards or more in 2014.

For Penn State, Joey Julius is 8 of 9 on field goals, with a long of 40 yards. Punter Daniel Pasquariello averages 40.5 yards a kick.

Advantage: Ohio State

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Ohio State defensive end Tyquan Lewis sacks Maryland quarterback Perry Hills. Lewis leads OSU with 5.5 sacks. MIKE ULLERY/Civitas Media
http://galioninquirer.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/web1_Tyquan.jpgOhio State defensive end Tyquan Lewis sacks Maryland quarterback Perry Hills. Lewis leads OSU with 5.5 sacks. MIKE ULLERY/Civitas Media
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