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Matt Hayes (Twitter: @MattHayesCFB)
These are the games that make careers and Heisman Trophy campaigns. Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley has been surgical in these games over the previous two seasons, and playing at home will be a huge factor.
But it’s hard to overlook what Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins has accomplished in just four starts. Regardless of who you’re playing, if you’re completing 75 percent of your passes and have 16 TDs to one INT, you’re doing just about everything right. Though this is also the type of game where Ohio State will miss wrecking-ball DE Nick Bosa the most, Haskins will have the ball last in the fourth quarter and find a way to win.
David Kenyon (Twitter: @Kenyon19_BR)
It would make sense for this to be Ohio State’s pitfall, right? During the last two seasons, the biggest blemishes happened on the road at Penn State and Iowa. Haskins is simply performing at a different level, though. Even though the Buckeyes aren’t actively calling more downfield shots, his accuracy and timing have positioned the playmakers to generate more explosive gains after the catch. That’s a winning strategy and one that results in a road victory.
Adam Kramer (Twitter: @KegsnEggs)
I’ll take Ohio State in what could be one of the best games of the year. Two great offenses, two defenses that are by no means finished products and two fabulous quarterbacks. This is why we love college football.
No, I don’t see Haskins throwing for his typical 700 yards and 11 touchdowns (numbers approximated). But he’ll find enough success to give Ohio State the edge. The concern in picking the Buckeyes here is knowing that McSorley will probably be brilliant, as he has been all season long. The question is: Will it be enough? I say Penn State falls just short, although a mild upset wouldn’t be shocking in the least.
Kerry Miller (Twitter: @kerrancejames)
As was the case before the season began, my concern with Penn State is the defense. Sure, the Nittany Lions shut down Kent State, but both Appalachian State and Illinois had little trouble moving the ball against them. And if you can’t slow down M.J. Rivers II, how am I supposed to believe you can stifle Haskins and J.K. Dobbins?
Moreover, this is by far the best defense Penn State has faced thus far, and McSorley has quietly been shaky, completing just 54.2 percent of his passes. I’m not saying there’s no chance the Nittany Lions win, but it does feel like they’ll need to be almost perfect to get it done. I’ll take Ohio State 41-28.
Brad Shepard (Twitter: @Brad_Shepard)
Nope. Ohio State is not only the best team in the Big Ten, the Buckeyes—for right now, at least—are the only team that has looked potent enough to compete with Alabama. That isn’t to say that Georgia’s can’t get there or that Clemson won’t catch fire with Trevor Lawrence at the helm, but the Buckeyes are dynamic with Haskins. He can do things on that offense that J.T. Barrett never could. The loss of Bosa for nobody-knows-how-long hurts immensely, but this Penn State team is just a few weeks removed from nearly losing to Appalachian State. It isn’t in OSU’s league.
Ian Wharton (Twitter: @NFLFilmStudy)
This game has become a must-watch affair after the last two iterations. Penn State has the huge home-field presence, and that’s enough to rattle any team. The Buckeyes must overcome a young defense that’s been prone to big running plays, and Miles Sanders is an explosive playmaker who can gash them. Haskins and McSorley will each be fighting for an early Heisman moment in addition to what’s at stake for their teams. But I think Ohio State has just enough star power to overcome it for a crucial win.