Extra Points: OSU at Penn State

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Penn State football players wear crisp blue and white jerseys without any names stitched on the back.

The Nittany Lions possess a bruising defense, relying on a throwback scheme known as a "Cover 3."

Their coach, Joe Paterno, has painted a blue line around the squad's practice field. He tells his players to drop their distractions there. "Across the blue line, it's all about football," he says. Across the blue line, "You're mine."

The program is no doubt old-school. It's as much a symbol of a bygone era as a pocket watch or Norman Rockwell painting.

In fact, one of the few football teams to revere tradition as much as Penn State is Ohio State, with its Buckeye leaves, tunnel of pride and senior tackle.

On top of that, the schools' fan bases are equally passionate. Almost 96,000 Buckeye fans attended the spring game. That's a scrimmage where you can't even tackle the quarterback - and yet the stands were nearly full.

Before Nittany Lions home games, Penn State students camp out in a miniature tent-city called Paternoville - sometimes for days- in the hopes of procuring front-row seats.

So this weekend's matchup will be hard-fought. It will be no-frills. It will be a game between two teams that increasingly talk of this being a rivalry.

Stoking that rivalry is Buckeye quarterback Terrelle Pryor. He's from Jeannette, Pennsylvania, and Penn State fans wanted him to stay home and lead their team to greatness. He didn't.

In fact, he called the campus at State College "too country." This is seen as an act of treason.

Pryor knows that. He only half-jokingly says he thinks Nittany Lions fans will be polite enough to wait until he starts warm-ups to start booing him.

Opposing quarterback Daryll Clark finished as runner-up to Pryor in the ballot for preseason Big Ten offensive player of the year.

That award means about as much as a Tony for Best Revival of a Musical, but still Clark has had to protest, "It's Ohio State vs. Penn State, period. It's not Daryll Clark vs. Terrelle Pryor. We're not going to play that type of chess match. That's not what it's about."

Of course, you don't need to borrow Paterno's Coke-bottle glasses to see it's about much more than that.

Penn State could practically lock up a BCS bid with a victory, which is why Clark describes this game as "Our big one."

OSU, meanwhile, needs a victory to stay in the hunt for their fifth straight Big Ten title and keep their dreams of a Rose Bowl berth intact. Plus, there's the little matter of payback for the Buckeyes' 13-6 loss to Penn State last year.

"This is as big as they come," Pryor said. "We're going to be ready to rock. I can't wait."

He won't have to wait much longer.

OSU Fast Fact


All-time record between Ohio State and Penn State

Huddle Up

There's no question that Penn State can play defense. They give up less than 10 points per game. No team in the country has been stingier this season.

The Nittany Lions like to refer to their school as "Linebacker U," and Navorro Bowman and Sean Lee are widely recognized for their talent, but less-well-known linebacker Josh Hull actually leads the team in tackles.

And while Penn State's dominating D garners most of the headlines, they top the conference in total offense as well, averaging 180 yards rushing and 250 yards passing.

Leading the Nittany Lions are quarterback Daryll Clark and running back Evan Royster. Their feats are even more impressive given they're playing behind a question mark of an offensive line.

What: OSU at Penn State

When: 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7


Web: ohiostatebuckeyes.com

Listen to Lori Schmidt on 97.1 The Fan and follow her at twitter.com/LoriSchmidt