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Penn State Football: Ohio State Week Mailbag

by on September 27, 2018 3:00 PM

Well the good news is that the game is almost here, and the endless predictions and guessing will disappear for at least a few days before the bye week begins with Michigan State slowly creeping around the corner.

But the game isn't here yet, so why not one more round of questions, one more round of educated guess?

So straight from Twitter, here are some of your questions, answered and in a few days we can circle back, seeing how right -or how wrong- I was.

Win the coin toss, receive or defer?

I actually have a weird interest in this question and think Penn State should opt to receive. If you believe this game is going to be high scoring it's better to set the pace than chase it. Historically Penn State has won the toss the past two games and taken the ball on both occasions. Conversely if Penn State thinks it'll want that first second half possession, then deferring and aiming for a back-to-back score to end/start half mightn't be a bad way to go. I'd take the ball though, start with your strengths.

How many snaps will Tommy Stevens get?

This is a good question because I think there is a compelling argument to be made that he doesn't play. I think Stevens will see the field, otherwise all of this has just been smoke and mirrors, but I don't think he will play all that much. Stevens didn't take a snap against Ohio State, Michigan State or Iowa last year and when he has played it hasn't really been a game changer. There's always a chance that he is this week's wrinkle, but Penn State's defense needs a tweak more than the offense does. I'll say six snaps but the Stevens' package will continue to be more bark than bite.

Will defense play to contain or play aggressively?

Penn State doesn't have the luxury of playing to contain in my opinion because it means giving Haskins time to pass. Penn State's best bet is the bring the pressure and hope man coverage is enough. There are some weaknesses in this plan, which is why nobody really asks me what to do, but sitting back won't work, Ohio State is too good. 

Breakout player?

Marcus Allen made his debut against Ohio State a few years ago and led the team in tackle that night. Penn State will probably want the breakout player to be on defense more than offense, so I'll go with Micah Parsons stepping up to the plate. Shareef Miller being the best player on defense wouldn't shock me but that also wouldn't be a surprise. So I'll go with Parsons in terms of a new faces making big plays. On offense I think Saturday is a great night for KJ Hamler to make a national debut against an Ohio State defense that has struggled at times against big plays.

Shootout or defensive slugfest?

There will be a lot of points in this game but I'll probably take the under on the 71 sitting in Vegas right now. It's hard to really know for sure though because Penn State and Ohio State haven't ever really been this explosive both at the same time aside from last year. It makes sense to pick a low scoring game because of history, but it's hard to deny where the strengths of these teams are.

Both teams average 50+ points per game, chances they both get within 10 of that?

I think it'll be close, but it's more likely to be a 42-35 kind of game than 40+ to 40+

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