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Friday, July 26, 2013
Early look at the Ohio State Buckeyes

By Josh Moyer

Braxton Miller
Braxton Miller ran for 134 yards and accounted for three touchdowns vs. Penn State last season.
Every weekday over the next two weeks, NittanyNation will take a closer look at a different game this season and how the matchup stacks up for PSU. Up today: Ohio State.

This is the most difficult game on Penn State's schedule -- and for good reason.

The Buckeyes are coming off an undefeated season and boast the most dynamic offense in the Big Ten. Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde form the best QB-RB tandem the Nittany Lions will face. By far. And it certainly doesn't help Bill O'Brien's squad that this game will be played at the Horseshoe.

Miller is a dual threat and a serious Heisman contender, while Hyde is currently suspended but likely will return in time for the PSU contest. (Surveillance video shows that Hyde "reacted in a non-confrontational manner" and did not make contact with the woman who filed the police report, according to Yahoo!.)

Miller accounted for nearly 75 percent of the Buckeyes' offense against PSU last year, and it'll be even harder this season to stop the Ohio native with PSU's fresh-faced front-seven. That also could make Hyde even more dangerous. The Lions held the tailback to 55 yards on 22 carries last season -- but still managed to allow 35 points.

It certainly won't be any easier on PSU's defense this season. But, if PSU can get past this game, it would speak volumes about the program. It's one game every PSU fan is sure to circle.

When: 8 p.m. ET on Oct. 26 at the Horseshoe (ABC, ESPN or ESPN2)

Last season: Ohio State (12-0, 8-0 Big Ten); no bowl due to sanctions

Series history: OSU 15-13-0

Biggest question marks: Defense, defense, defense.

If the Buckeyes' defense was as strong as the offense, OSU might be the favorite to square off against Alabama in the national title game. That result is still not out of the realm of possibility, but it's not going to be easy this season now that the Buckeyes' have lost all four starters on the defensive line, and linebacker is shaky outside of Ryan Shazier.

The Buckeyes will have to lean on a lot of untested players on this front-seven, and there's no way they'll be able to equal their 14th-ranked run defense from a season ago. There are definitely some bright, young prospects here, including DE Noah Spence and DT Tommy Schutt. But, no matter what way you look at it, the front-seven is the Achilles' heel of Ohio State, and for PSU to stand a chance, it'll have to expose this group.

Carlos Hyde
Carlos Hyde could exploit a young Penn State defense if it pays too much attention to Braxton Miller.
Biggest strengths: Basically, this entire offense is a strength. Nine starters return -- OSU lost its No. 3 wideout and a right tackle -- so this attack obviously should be even stronger than last season. That's a scary thought, considering OSU boasted the No. 21 scoring offense in the country in 2012 and averaged more than 37 points a game.

Miller is one of the nation's best, and Hyde likely will be the best tailback -- or second-best, depending on your feelings about Dri Archer -- that PSU will face. This stable of running backs is deep and can wear a defense down, while the wideouts/tight ends -- like the speedy Corey Brown -- are improved from last year and could cause some headaches for PSU's secondary.

Who to watch: CB Bradley Roby. Yes, Roby was recently arrested and Urban Meyer is still considering his exact punishment. But, as long as he plays against PSU, he'll be the best secondary player the Lions face all season.

He's a shutdown corner who played boundary-side against PSU and matched up against Allen Robinson quite a bit. He had four pass breakups vs. the Lions last season, and he can single-handedly disrupt a passing game. For PSU's offense to have success, it'll have to take Roby out of the equation -- and that's a tall task.

What you might not know: The PSU-OSU rivalry started in 1912 in what might have been the most memorable game of the series -- in part because it ended early because, well, PSU was playing too rough.

According to Ken Rappoport and Barry Wilner, in Penn State Football: The Complete Illustrated History, the Nittany Lions led 37-0 in the fourth quarter while Ohio State coach Jack Richards continued to complain about PSU's unnecessary roughness.

With about five minutes left in the game, one of the Buckeyes' running backs was tackled a bit too hard for Richards' liking and he decided to take his players off the field.

"The Ohio State players started off the field," DL "Dad" Engle said, according to the book. "We had no idea they were leaving but thought they were going to try some sort of spread or trick formation. So we started following them."

The crowd spilled onto the field, and fights ended up breaking out. The game soured relations between the schools, and it took more than 40 years for the teams to meet again.

Early prediction: OSU 38-24. PSU doesn't have an answer for Miller, and Hyde greatly improves upon his numbers from last season.