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Penn State Football: Five Things To Watch As The Nittany Lions Take On Ohio State

by on September 28, 2018 1:40 PM

The irony is that the biggest games are often the most straight forward. See all those good players on the other team? Try and slow them down. Those mistakes you've made all year? Try not to do that against the good teams.

It's not really all that complicated, and neither is Penn State's meeting with Ohio State. The Buckeyes and Nittany Lions share similar weaknesses and similar strengths making for a game that could go just about 100 different directions.

Which way it does go? Well everyone will find out in just over 24 hours from now. But these are the things I'm looking for.

Pressure:

It's not really rocket science but Penn State's ability get to Dwayne Haskins will probably determine the game. If the Nittany Lions can pull off timely sacks that will go miles and miles toward another upset. If they can't, Haskins is simply too good, no matter how young, not to find his targets down the field.

There are a lot of little things that can determine this game, but this might be the biggest and most important.

Keep doing what you do:

There isn't really any indication that Penn State will turtle up in this game, opting to run the ball and control the clock, but it's not an entirely bad idea. That being said, Penn State's best bet truly is to go out swinging like it has for the past two years and whatever happens, happens. That's not to say a run-first game is a bad way to go about it, but the more Ricky Rahne lets Trace be Trace and KJ be KJ, the better off the offense will be.

Open door:

There is an opportunity on Saturday night for a Penn State defender to make a name for himself, but it's hard to know who exactly that will be. This group is young and inexperienced but perhaps that blissful ignorance will lead to a name appearing out of the mess of a defensive depth chart and establish himself as someone who wants to be that so-called "eraser" James Franklin says he is still looking for. Penn State/Ohio State games are as big as they get, who will make the most of the stage?

Start well: 

Again, not rocket science here but how Penn State can start this game very well might dictate how it ends. if Haskins is on a roll early the Nittany Lions might only have until halftime to get things under control and that doesn't really bode well for a defense that has taken about that long to get going the past four weeks. If Penn State can get points on the board, keep the crowd in the game and get a few stops everyone will have a ball game to watch. If not, it might be a long night in State College.

Don't flinch:

The Ohio State/Penn State series the past few years has been full of big moments coming at unexpected times. Special teams has been a huge part of this and really both teams have had their moments to shine in the mistakes department. The first mistake might not decide the game, but it could swing momentum. In the past two games against these teams the eventual winner trailed by two touchdowns heading into the fourth quarter, so it's not over until it's over and a mistake might just turn the tide.



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