Ohio State head coach Ryan Day might be 2-0 vs. Penn State, but he knows the Nittany Lions are no cake walk.
In the two meetings in 2019 and 2020, the Buckeyes have won by a combined 24 points. But those games were “a dogfight,” Day said on Tuesday.
“You look at the games we’ve had with them in the past, they’re always a dogfight,” Day said. “That’s just the way it’s been. I know it’s gonna be that way. They have a lot of pride, they’re a very good program. … They’re one of the best programs in the country.
“It’s hard to beat these type of teams. We know when Penn State comes into town, we’ve got to be on our game. And this is gonna be one of those games. It’s gonna be physical back and forth. We’ve gotta start fast and be ready to play for four quarters.”
When No. 5 OSU (6-1, 4-0) hosts #20 PSU (5-2, 2-2) on Saturday at 7:30 on ABC, the stakes will be high. With a loss, OSU’s College Football Playoff hopes will go up in smoke. Meanwhile, PSU head coach James Franklin needs to stop the bleeding of a two-game losing streak. The challenge for the Buckeyes? Find ways to score on a defense that’s allowed just 14.7 points per game. The Buckeyes appear well equipped, ranking as the best in the nation in total offense.
“I think the defense has played well. They really only gave up 10 points last week and they’re averaging 14 points per game given up,” Day said. “It’s a very good defense. Brent Pry is an excellent defensive coordinator, has been for a long time. They have a very good scheme, very good players.
“I think when you look at their front, they’re very active, the linebackers are very good. Their back end is veteran now, they’ve played a lot of football. They’re one of the best defenses in the country, in my opinion. And there’s a lot that goes into that. I think it’s scheme, I think it’s coaching, but they have really good personnel, as well.”
The Buckeyes offense and redshirt freshman quarterback C.J. Stroud have been excellent since the 35-28 loss to No. 7 Oregon on Sept. 11. Stroud has turned a corner in his development and is now a Heisman contender. He has completed 67.6% of his passes for 1,965 yards with 22 touchdowns and a 192.8 passer rating on the season.
Defensively, Day knows his secondary must account for senior PSU receiver Jahan Dotson. Dotson will be on his way to the NFL after the season, but first hopes he will be on his way to the end zone against the Buckeyes on Saturday. The PSU passing offense led by redshirt senior quarterback Sean Clifford goes through Dotson, something Day is well aware of.
“I think Dotson is one of the better wide receivers in the country. We gotta know where he is at all times,” Day said. “They’re gonna try to find ways to get him the ball for sure. However we go about doing that, that’s part of the schematic stuff that we’ll work on this week. But we’ll have to know exactly where he is.”