The Rivalry Guide to Penn State at Ohio State

So it's Thursday afternoon.  Arguably the worst time of the week for a college football fan.  You're at work staring complacently at the Quorum panels in front of your desk.  It's not Friday yet, so there's no excuse to waste three hours on ESPN.com.  Still, that doesn't make you any less psyched for Saturday. 

We at The Rivalry, Esq. know your dilemma, and have taken affirmative steps to ensure that when (inevitably) you do give in and pop your Internet Explorer browser up like the lid of a toy chest you're productive in a different kind of way.

Today's concept is simple enough: in less than 72 hours No. 3 Penn State and No. 9 Ohio State will play under the lights on the banks of the Olentangy in what amounts to a Big Ten Conference Championship.  The Ohio State Athletic Department will bring in temporary 250 lux floodlighting kits to shower the historic stadium in a snow like albedo for the first night kickoff since 2005: when Vince Young and the Texas Longhorns visited Columbus and rode away with a national title.

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250 Lux Floodlights will replace Columbus' trademark pillow gray sky in the first night game in the Horseshoe since 2005.

You're going to be there, or at least watching earnestly in the company of others.  We're committed to making sure -- two, three, six beers in -- you're the honorary sage of the group.  What that requires is being well versed in four basis categories of the game: 1. The scene 2. The stakes, 3. The spread, and 4. The intangibles.  Without further adieu. 


The People, the Tradition, the Excellence


Sure, it's Ohio State's public relations tag, but these three talons provide us with an excellent framework for digesting the cultural composition of the OSU/PSU rivalry.

At a Glance

Team Ohio State Penn State
Overall Series Wins 12 11
Overall Program Wins 803 797
National Championships 7 2
Heisman Trophy Winners 7 1


From modest beginnings: Black Shoe Diaries chronicles the first ever Ohio State/Penn State game in 1912.  It turned out to be the last for 44 years.

The new border war: Bucknuts.com gives us an in-depth synopsis of all 23 games.  Pay special attention to 1996-1998.  These years marked the nucleus of the struggle.

Poisonous nut?  This link (warning: slightly educational) gives informational about the species, history, and folklore surrounding Aesculus glabra, or Ohio's native Buckeye Tree.

Algonquian lion?  Here, you'll find out everything you need to know about the Nittany (lone) mountain lion.


Who ever said the Big Ten doesn't have a championship game?


The implications for this one are pretty clear.  The winner, save an unfashionable fall from grace, will likely capture the Big Ten Conference crown.  If it's the favorites a victory will almost certainly catapult the Lions to an undefeated season, allowing them to capture a bid to the BCS National Championship Game in Miami.  That means the bested Buckeyes would have to set their sights on the runner-up Rose Bowl. 

If the home team, by contrast, takes it to the house, they'll Bring Chaos to the Standings, putting themselves in prime position for an unpopular return to the BCS National Championship for the third consecutive year.  If you haven't already, you can read why I'm rooting for Ohio State to make it back to the Game.

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It doesn't get any bigger than this.

Statistically speaking, this one is a bit lopsided.  As Black Shoe Diaries surmises of the fifteen identifiable statistical categories, Penn State has the advanage in twelve.  If this game was played on paper, i'd be a long night for the Buckeyes.

Need a little more motion?  Todd McShay introduces the quarterback conflict in this ESPN video preview.

You can also tune into Philly.com for their coverage of the specific contours of the quarterback race: Terrelle Pryor versus Daryll Clark.

Wanna bet?  Are you willing to put your money where your mouth is?  Betonline.com has a helpful preview of the Ohio State/Penn State line.  The oddsmakers favor the Nittany Lions by 2.5 points.


And then there are the intangibles. 


The way I see it these operate as twofold: there's the home field advantage, and there's the weather. 

The Horseshoe is consistently ranked as one of the nation's 10 Toughest Places to Play College Football.  Penn State will be greeted Saturday by a rogue legion of some 105,708 angry, Columbusites, buoyed by an extended pre-game period of nervous diffusion and tailgating.  To be successful signal-callers they'll have to get the crowd out of this one fast.  Fortunately, for the scarlet we're not going down without a fight.

It's not often in life you get the chance to use the word stentorian.


Finally, there's the weather.  Saturday's forecast in Columbus calls for morning clouds followed by afternoon sun; a high of 57 and low of 42.  And, a 20 percent chance of precipitation. 

What impact, if any, a rain-soaked playing surface might have on the game, is debatable.  The Rivalry, Esq., thinks a wet ball and vertical torrents may stunt the growth of Jay Paterno's vaulted Spread HD offense.

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