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One way or another; Penn State faces season-defining test in Columbus

Article Written by Mac Young

Originally Published on September 20, 2023

Penn State football has been on a tear since the beginning of last November.

The Nittany Lions have won 11 games in a row all by at least 14 points dating back to last year. This includes an impressive Rose Bowl victory.

But what was this run of great play following? An absolutely gut-wrenching loss to Ohio State at home last season.

Penn State was seen as a longshot to win but held its own through three-quarters of play. The Nittany Lions opened the fourth by scoring a touchdown to take a 21-16 lead, but turnovers and outstanding play from Buckeye quarterback CJ Stroud allowed Ohio State to storm back.

The Buckeyes would go on to score 28 fourth-quarter points to cruise to a 44-31 victory. Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford tossed three interceptions and had a fumble lost.

Now, Penn State prepares for a road test with Ohio State that could define its season or even the James Franklin era.

Despite some possible nightmares from last season, the Nittany Lions have a lot to be positive about coming into this year’s clash.

Penn State leads the country in total defense and is second in scoring defense. The most points Penn State has allowed in a game was 15 in its week one win over West Virginia.

Turnovers were a massive factor in last season’s matchup with Ohio State, but this year Penn State quarterback Drew Allar has zero picks and zero fumbles lost.

The Penn State offense has been thriving scoring at least 30 points in 13 straight games. The Nittany Lions are averaging 44.3 points per game which leads the Big Ten and is fifth best in the nation.

The cherry on top has been the special teams recently. Against UMass last weekend, Daequan Hardy scored two punt return touchdowns, a feat that had never been accomplished in Penn State history.

Meanwhile, Ohio State has not looked up to par with its usually absurdly high standards.

The Buckeyes had a scare against Notre Dame where the Fighting Irish only had 10 defenders on the field as well as some slow starts, like against Maryland at home two weeks ago.

This looks like a winnable game for Penn State, but despite how well the Nittany Lions are playing, this is an extremely tall task.

James Franklin is 1-8 against Ohio State and Penn State has not taken down the Buckeyes since that miraculous kick-six back in the 2016 whiteout. Penn State has not won in Columbus since 2011.

If Penn State can play a full four quarters of what it has done all season against Ohio State, it can secure what might be the best win of James Franklin’s tenure.

Mac Young is a senior broadcast journalism major at Penn State.

To contact him email


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