Here we go with one of the best hype spots on Penn State’s 2022 football schedule. The Lions host Ohio in their home opener, slotting the game in between visiting Power 5 teams Purdue and Auburn.
After scoring 35 points at Purdue, the most against a Power 5 team under OC Mike Yurcich, Penn State finds itself in a no-win position when it comes to perception. The Lions likely want to play a lot of young players, but they still need reps for the 1s, especially on the offensive line. They also want to try the running game, but they can shoot to rack up style points along the way.
So much to consider. let’s do it
Penn State (1-0) vs. Ohio (1-0)
- When: Saturday at noon ET
- Where: Beaver Stadium
- Television: ABC
- Streaming: FuboTV (Start your free trial)
- Betting line: Penn State is a 24.5-point favorite
- Series history: Penn State leads 5-1
- Last meeting: Ohio 24-14 in 2012
- Streaks: Penn State is playing a MAC team for the 20th straight season (not including Big Ten-only 2020 schedule)
With coach James Franklin making increasing depth a preseason talking point, Saturday’s game represents a great opportunity to develop it. Penn State played 23 players on defense at Purdue, showing that coordinator Manny Diaz is willing to rotate almost every position. Look for more defensive players on Saturday, particularly linebacker Abdul Carter and tackle Zane Durant.
Meanwhile, on offense, the big question remains the quarterback. Not with Sean Clifford but with whomever he follows. Franklin said this week that he is considering early reps for a young quarterback. But who? On Tuesday, Franklin was unwilling to name Drew Allar as a backup, which he did before the Purdue game. This will probably remain a public competition, even if it’s not internal.
More important is the running game. The Lions have gone 17 games without a 100-yard rusher since the 2020 visit to Michigan, where Keyvone Lee rushed for 134. We expect that streak to end Saturday against a team that allowed 193 rushing yards per game last season.
And if not, Franklin might have trouble talking about the running game again.
What’s new at Beaver Stadium this season?
Penn State players to watch
Nicholas Singleton: The back to break the streak could be Lee, Singleton or Kaytron Allen. Go with Singleton, who led Penn State with 10 carries at Purdue and has the most promising big-play skills.
Abdel Carter: Franklin planned to play a lot with the rookie linebacker last week. But Carter got two plays and was ejected for scoring on the first defensive snap of his career. He’ll see a lot more action on Saturday, showing why he uses the coveted No. 11 linebacker.
Bryce Efner: The four-position lineman from Penn State saw opportunities at right tackle and even de facto tight end in giant packages last week. If Caedan Wallace continues to falter at right tackle, Effner could take on a bigger role there.
Ohio players to watch
Kurtis Rourke: The Bobcats quarterback was 27 of 34 for 345 yards and four touchdowns in an opening win over Florida Atlantic. He’s not a fast-pitch NFL prospect like Purdue’s Aidan O’Connell, but the Canadian quarterback (he’s from Oakville, Ontario) tied Sean Clifford in the five-TD category (four passes, one rushing). .
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Sieh Bangura: The Penn State coaching staff is quite familiar with the redshirt freshman running back who gained 114 yards on 23 carries last week. Bangura went to Maryland’s DeMatha Catholic, where he played with Penn State’s Coziah Izzard, Golden Israel-Achumba and Kevin Winston Jr.
Ben Johnson: Who doesn’t love a safety who makes 15 tackles in a game? Johnson was busy against FAU. He might be busier on Saturday.
Five things you should know
1. Penn State is 120-13-1 all-time in home starts and has won 18 of its last 20. James Franklin is 7-1 in home starts, losing only the 2020 game against Ohio State.
2. Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford needs 337 passing yards to pass Christian Hackenberg for second on Penn State’s rushing list.
3. The Maxwell Football Club named Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr. as the Bednarik Award National Player of the Week. Porter set a school record, and tied the Big Ten record, with six pass breakups against Purdue.
4. Penn State receiver Mitchell Tinsley is looking for his seventh straight game with at least seven receptions. Tinsley transferred to Penn State after catching 87 passes at Western Kentucky last season.
5. Ohio’s second-year head coach, Tim Albin, has been the team’s offensive coordinator since 2005. Over the past 10 seasons, Albin has coached seven of the program’s 10 highest-scoring offenses.
For bettors, Penn State is 12-6 against the margin in its last 18 games and has cashed in six of its last eight (according to Oddsshark). We like Penn State and the under 54s here in a swing game between Purdue and Auburn.
Franklin is likely to play a lot of guys, including some of his talented freshmen, so forget about the shutout. Perhaps the most interesting matchup to watch is who gets the call to replace Clifford: Allar or Christian Veilleux.
Penn State 42, Ohio 10
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AllPennState is the place for Penn State news, opinion and perspective on the SI.com network. Editor Mark Wogenrich has covered Penn State for more than 20 years, tracking three coaching staffs, three Big Ten titles and a catalog of great stories. Follow him on Twitter @MarkWogenrich. And consider subscribing (button on home page) for more great content across the SI.com network.