Mascot: Nittany Lions
Stadium: Beaver Stadium (107,282)
Head Coach: Joe Paterno (44th year at PSU, 391-128-3; vs OSU 8-12)
2008 Record: 11-2 (Lost to USC in Rose Bowl 38-24)
2009 Record: 8-1
Base Offense: Ace (3 Wide Receivers)
Base Defense: 4-3
Letterman: Returning - 37; Lost - 20
Returning Starters: Offense - 5, Defense - 4, Specialists - 1
Returning Stars: QB Daryll Clark; RB Evan Royster; LB Sean Lee
-Lisa Salters, ESPN reporter
-Adam McKay, Screenwriter and director of Anchorman and Talladega Nights
-Herman Fisher, Co-founder of Fisher-Price toy company
-John Cappalletti, Heisman Trophy winning RB
-Mike Scioscia, MLB catcher and manager
-Franco Harris, NFL Hall of Fame running back
-Joseph Heller, Author of Catch-22
Cheerleading Scouting Report:
Saturday's game between the Nittany Lions and the Buckeyes was hyped as the game that would decide the Big Ten Champion before the season started. While this game will not necessarily decide that because Iowa is in the mix, it still has massive Big Ten implications. One would expect that this game is going to feature two of the nation's top defenses, and should be low scoring in nature. With that said, both teams do have talent on the offensive side of the ball, especially Penn State, who is very underrated as an offensive unit. They have played a pretty easy schedule thus far, but are still averaging 429 yards a game and 30 points a game. So yes, Penn State can put up points!
Clark has a whole host of guys to throw the ball to, none of which has become a huge name (no surprise after losing Butler, Williams, and Norwood). The leading receiver is Derek Moye, who has 648 yards and five touchdowns on the season. At 6-5 198 pounds, he provides a very large target for Clark to hit. The other two wideouts to keep an eye out for are Graham Zug (344 yards, 5 TD) and Chaz Powell (352 yards, 3 TD). The Buckeyes will also not want to forget senior tight end Andrew Quarless who has 340 yards and one touchdown this season.
The Nittany Lions also have one of the top Big Ten running backs in Evan Royster. He has 859 yards and five touchdowns on the season, averaging 95.4 yards per game. The big news for Paterno and boys is that change of pace back Stephfon Green will be back for the game after getting injured against Michigan. He has 248 yards and three touchdowns on the season, and averages 5.1 a carry. The 1-2 punch of Royster and Green will provide quite a challenge for the Buckeyes, especially when you consider the mobility of Clark.
The defensive side of the ball for the Nittany Lions is pretty impressive. As usual they are led by their linebacking core, further living up to the name of "Linebacker U." The three guys that make up that unit are Josh Hull (82 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 2 INT), Sean Lee (49 tackles, 8 TFL, 2 sacks), and Navorro Bowman (53 tackles, 9 TFL, 1 INT). Bowman and Lee have struggled with injuries earlier in the season, but both are very healthy now and causing major problems for opposing offenses. The defensive line has also been creating havoc in 2009. The most impressive guy has probably been defensive tackle Jared Odrick (33 tackles, 10 TFL, 6 sacks). The offensive line will also have its hands full keeping defensive lineman Jack Crawford (28 tackles, 13 TFL, 5.5 sacks) and Ollie Ogbu (24 tackles, 7 TFL, 2 sacks) quiet.
When Penn State has the ball expect lots of running and short passing plays early on. Joe Paterno and the staff know that offensive success will depend on the confidence level of Daryll Clark, so they will be slow in trying to open things up. More importantly, the Buckeye defense has lived off of forcing turnovers this season. While Clark has been much more careful with the ball the last few weeks, he has shown this season that he can be sporadic. Thus the Buckeyes will try to create pressure on Clark, forcing him to make quicker decisions than he and the Penn State staff want him too. A lot of this rests in the ability to stuff the run and limit the success of screen passes. As long as Royster is picking up chunks of yards and Clark is having success dumping the ball off for big gains, the Buckeyes will be limited in how much pressure the can bring. So, the formula will be: stop the short stuff+bring the pressure=failed drives and turnovers.
When Ohio State has the ball, no one knows what in the world to expect. The offensive line has been incredibly disappointing, and even more importantly Pryor has not looked sharp in big games this season. So one can expect that Tressel will keep things close to the "Sweater Vest" in this game. That means that a lot rests on the shoulders of Pryor and the running backs. PSU will most likely have a linebacker spying Pryor throughout the game, so he needs make quick decisions and take care of the ball. The running backs also need to help take pressure off of Pryor by running tough and hitting the holes that open up by the offensive line (which will be rare). Taking advantage of turnovers and field position will also be a high priority for the offense. In the last three big games (PSU, Texas, and USC), the Buckeyes have been terrible about putting up points when they get on the opponents side of the field. The Buckeyes cannot expect to win if drives stall out at the 40 yard line and they are forced to punt or if they settle for short field goals. Good field position will be rare in this game, and it must be taken advantage of!
All in all, the Buckeyes have a lot stacked against them in this game. They are playing on the road in a hostile environment, they are down a kicker (important in Tressel's offense), and they have looked pretty disappointing on offense. The key to winning this game will be limiting turnovers, especially at bad times, and forcing turnovers of defense. The Buckeyes will not win this game if they lose the turnover margin. Also, Pryor needs to outplay the veteran Clark. A lot of pressure will be on both quarterbacks in this game, and the guy keeps his cool and makes better decisions will bring in the victory for his team. That sounds incredibly simple, but after the Showdown in the Shoe last year, it seems highly doubtful that this will be a complex offensive game. Anyways, things don't look incredibly bright, but one has to believe Pryor and offense will eventually rise the occasion on a big stage one of these days!
Father vs. Son Prediction Battle:
Dave: PSU 20-17
Drew: OSU 16-13