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Penn State Football: Breaking Down The Buckeyes

by on October 20, 2013 2:20 PM

When it comes to a rivalry week everything gets thrown out the window. Records don't matter, rankings don't matter, and last week doesn't matter. It's all about bragging rights until the two teams meet again.

Maybe Penn State isn't on the top of Ohio State's rivalry list with Michigan on the schedule every year, but there is little doubt that both programs have this game circled on their respective calendars.

So who are the Buckeyes this year? Take a look at the No. 4 ranked team in the country.

The Ohio State Defense: 19.9 points against average.

If Penn State is going to win it'll happen because the Nittany Lions are able to take advantage of an Ohio State defense that has struggled at times. The Buckeyes allow just over 3-yards a carry but the Ohio State secondary has been prone to giving up big plays.

That doesn't mean Ohio State is without stars on defense. The Buckeyes haven't gone undefeated for the past two years by chance. Here are two names to remember on the Buckeye defense.

  • Ryan Shazier: The junior linebacker is Ohio State's leading tackler with 56 and a team-lead eight tackles for a loss and has forced two fumbles. Chances are that if there is a big play being made in the heart of Ohio State's defense, that Shazier is nearby. Curtis Grant is second on the team in tackles at the same position with 43.
  • Bradley Roby: Penn State's Allen Robinson will need to have a big day for the Nittany Lions to come out on top. Roby's job likely will be to cover Robinson as the Buckeye's best defensive back with an NFL future. Roby hasn't had his best season for Ohio State but is still a threat to make a big play at any time. Wisconsin's Jared Abbrederis had a strong game against Roby earlier in the season and is one of the best wide outs in the conference. Roby has two interceptions and eight pass deflections.

The Ohio State Offense: Averages 45 points per game.

It isn't so much that Ohio State's offense is deadly at any moment, which it is, but that the Buckeyes are capable of flipping a switch and making the plays when they need them. All season the Buckeyes' opponents have stayed close or even held a lead, but when it really matters Urban Meyer's offense has been able to respond and end any hopes of an upset.

Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller is an obvious choice as an impact player, 404 yards rushing and 831 yards passing he is as dual-threat as they come. A few bumps and bruises have made him a little less willing to take a big hit, but he's still a threat to scramble on any down.

Aside from Miller, here are two names to remember when the Buckeyes have the ball.

  • Carlos Hyde: If any player exemplifies Ohio State's ability to suddenly takeover a game it's Hyde. The Buckeye running back is hard to stop on first contact and is even hard to stop once he gets going. Averaging 6.2 yards a carry Hyde doesn't often get stopped behind the line for a loss. If anything, Hyde's ability to run effectively opens up the Buckeye passing attack as defenses have to commit players to stopping the run. Hyde has accumulated 443 yards on the ground, many coming in crucial moments.
  • Corey "Philly" Brown and Devin Smith: Both players are listed here because both have almost the exact same numbers. Six touchdowns each, 33 and 30 catches respectively and 887 yards total between them. While Penn State is trying to slow down Hyde and contain Miller, John Butler's secondary will need to keep an eye on these two targets as well.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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