5 Questions: Penn State at Ohio State

Every year, Ohio State's matchup with Penn State is a hard-hitting affair, and this figures to be no different. We're focusing on the Penn State offensive line, the Nittany Lion quarterback, Ohio State's offensive approach, special teams and screen passes in this edition of Five Questions.

1. Can Penn State's offensive line handle the Ohio State defensive front?

A major question mark entering the season, the Penn State offensive line struggled through most of the first two months of the season but looked significantly better the past two weeks.

The line led the way for running backs Evan Royster and Silas Redd both to go over 100 yards last week during a 35-21 defeat of Northwestern and did a pretty good job of protecting quarterback Matt McGloin.

Ohio State's defensive line should have a significant talent advantage in this matchup, but the Buckeyes feel they have not lived up to their own expectations so far this season.

"It's going to be important for us to get after their offensive line," end Cameron Heyward said.

2. Will Matt McGloin stay hot?

Penn State's sophomore quarterback had a rough start against the Wildcats after entering the game in relief of starter Rob Bolden, but he was money on a late second-quarter drive and throughout the second half.

A week earlier he started and threw for 250 yards in a 41-31 win over Michigan, but he is in for a new experience this week when he makes the first road start of his career at Ohio Stadium in front of more than 105,000 fans.

"I think he plays with a lot of heart and a lot of fire," Heyward said. "He's definitely been their guy of inspiration and passion. I think a lot of guys are playing off him. They're playing pretty good right now."

The quality of competition figures to be different, too, as the Wolverines and Wildcats are ranked 115th and 100th, respectively, in the nation against the pass.

Ohio State is third in the country in both passing yards allowed and pass efficiency defense, but the Buckeyes have been vulnerable to giving up chunks of yards on more than one occasion.

3. Can Ohio State control Penn State's screen passes?

Time and again, the Nittany Lions made big plays against the Wildcats with screen passes. Offensive coordinator Galen Hall has every variety of them in his playbook, including quick tosses to wide receivers, bubble screens, middle screens and traditional halfback screens with pulling linemen.

The latter produced the last Penn State touchdown last week.

Also of note, the longest play from scrimmage of the day for the Nittany Lions in last season's 24-7 Ohio State win was a quick wide receiver screen past in the first quarter from Daryll Clark to Graham Zug that covered 31 yards.

Wisconsin hurt the Buckeyes with similar quick passes earlier this season.

4. What will Jim Tressel lead with on offense?

Ohio State literally ran to victory last November when quarterback Terrelle Pryor threw 17 times apiece in three victories to close out another Big Ten championship season, but Tressel said the team figures to be more balanced this season.

What was a pass-centric offense in the first half of the season has morphed into a run-first outfit the past two games as the Buckeyes rolled over Purdue and Minnesota.

After a week off to study what the has and hasn't worked, it will be interesting to see what the coaches choose to emphasize.

"We've got to come up with some things maybe that will enhance what we do, and then hopefully have studied the right things of our opponent in the right doses," Tressel said. "Now, the reality is, what happens in the game I guess will determine whether that was the best approach, but we felt that for the moment we're in, those were the things that we needed to accomplish."

5. Will Ohio State's special teams units hold up?

This may have to be a question every week for the rest of the season because every time the Buckeyes look to have solved their coverage woes, they come back to bite them again.

A decided underdog, there is no doubt Penn State could use a boost from a big play or two out of its return game, and the kickoff return unit ranks 19th in the nation and second in the Big Ten behind Ohio State.

The Nittany Lions have not done much in the punt return game (7.4 yards per return/71st nationally), but they seem to have shored up the punt coverage problems of last season that reared their heads during a couple of long returns by the Buckeyes.

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