BSB Opponent Preview: Penn State

Ohio State wants to make this another November to remember, and that quest begins Saturday afternoon with Penn State in a contest that has drawn ESPN's "College GameDay" to Columbus. Get ready for the contest by reading up on Penn State, including details of their three-game winning streak, depth charts, stats and more in this preview.

Penn State
Saturday, Nov. 13
3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN
Ohio Stadium; Columbus

The Nittany Lions
Head coach: Joe Paterno, 400-132-3, 45th season)
2009 record: 11-2 (6-2, tied for 2nd Big Ten Conference)
Series mark: Ohio State leads 13-12
School location: State College, Pa.
Enrollment: 44,112
Colors: Blue and White
Stadium: Beaver Stadium
Fight song: "Fight on State"

Penn State Players To Watch
RB Evan Royster: Penn State's all-time leading rusher, the former lacrosse player is a hard runner who has the quickness and agility to break runs outside. He got off to a slow start, averaging 3.5 yards per carry in the opening three contests, before looking like the Royster of old in the next five games. In that span, he has 624 yards on 111 carries (a 5.6-yard average) and three touchdowns.

"I think Evan Royster is a guy that now has hit it into gear," Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel said. "I think at the beginning of the year he probably wasn't himself and as the year has gone on, just like most tough backs do, he got himself back to where he'd like to be."

WR Derek Moye: A 6-5, 202-pound target, Moye has good size but also runs smooth enough routes that he might have an NFL future. An honorable mention All-Big Ten choice last year with 48 catches, Moye is again having a solid season in 2010 with 18.6 yards per catch on his team-high 33 grabs. He'll be looking to reassert himself after going without a catch in 2009 against Ohio State, the only contest in the last two years he has been shut out.

ILB Chris Colasanti: A highly ranked prospect coming out of high school, Colasanti had to wait until his senior year for a starting job, but the wait has been worth it. The middle linebacker is leading the team with 83 tackles and also has seven stops for loss on the season while being one of the few players at his position to stay relatively healthy throughout the whole campaign.

OLB Michael Mauti: Finally healthy, Mauti has been stepping up his play in recent weeks. He has set career highs in tackles each of the past three weeks, reaching 11, including three for loss and a sack, in last week's win to earn Big Ten co-defensive player of the week honors. He now has 60 tackles on the year to place second on the team.

"I think Mauti played well Saturday," head coach Joe Paterno said.

Sept. 4, Youngstown State, W 44-14
Sept. 11, at No. 1 Alabama, L 24-3
Sept. 18, Kent State, W 24-0
Sept. 25, Temple, W 22-13
Oct. 2, at No. 17 Iowa, L 24-3
Oct. 9, Illinois, L 33-13
Oct. 23, Minnesota, W 33-21
Oct. 30, Michigan, W 41-31
Nov. 6, Northwestern, W 35-21

Projected Starters
QB 11 Matt McGloin, 6-1, 209
RB 22 Evan Royster, 6-1, 218/FB 37 Joe Suhey, 6-1, 227
WR 6 Derek Moye, 6-5, 202
WR 83 Brett Brackett, 6-6, 242
WR 19 Justin Brown, 6-3, 216
TE 82 Kevin Haplea, 6-4, 249
LT 67 Quinn Barham, 6-3, 298
LG 74 Johnnie Troutman, 6-4, 323
C 68 Doug Klopacz, 6-3, 286
RG 61 Stefen Wisniewski, 6-3, 306
RT 52 Chima Okoli, 6-4, 291

LE 59 Pete Massaro, 6-4, 255
LT 85 Ollie Ogbu, 6-1, 300
RT 71 Devon Still, 6-5, 311
RE 47 Jordan Hill, 6-1, 309
OLB 42 Michael Mauti, 6-2, 229
ILB 48 Chris Colasanti, 6-2, 241
OLB 15 Bani Gbadyu, 6-1, 241
LCB 8 D'Anton Lynn, 6-1, 200
FS 10 Malcolm Willis, 5-11, 217
HERO 28 Drew Astorino, 5-10, 193
RCB 2 Chaz Powell, 6-1, 196

P 30 Anthony Fera, 6-2, 210
K 36 Collin Wagner, 5-9, 183
KR 2 Chaz Powell, 6-1, 196/21 Stephfon Green, 5-10, 197
PR 19 Justin Brown, 6-3, 216/20 Devon Smith, 5-7, 157

Five Fast Facts
1. Penn State's 13-6 win in Ohio Stadium in 2008 was its first in eight tries in Columbus since joining the Big Ten.

2. The Nittany Lions signed four members of the Scout 100 in the last recruiting class, but only Connecticut running back Silas Redd – who was ranked 50th – and New York defensive tackle DaQuan Jones have played. Pennsylvania quarterback Paul Jones (39th) and linebacker Mike Hull (28th) are redshirting.

3. Five Nittany Lions hail from Ohio: fullback Mike Zordich (Youngstown Cardinal Mooney), safety Andrew Dailey (Massillon Washington), backup tight end Nate Cadogan (Portsmouth), redshirting running back Brandon Beachum (Cardinal Mooney) and walk-on wideout Ryan Scherer (Avon Lake).

4. Penn State's comeback from 21 points down at home vs. Northwestern was its biggest comeback victory in Beaver Stadium history.

5. Since the start of the 2005 season, the Nittany Lions are 58-16. The winning percentage of 78.0 is eighth in the nation in that span.

Offensive Personnel Report Penn State's offense has been on fire the last three games, putting up an average of 36.3 points per game on Minnesota, Michigan and Northwestern. Those fireworks have overlapped the time that Matt McGloin has become the main quarterback of the Penn State attack.

He took over for true freshman Rob Bolden – the first true frosh to start an opener under Paterno – because of injury in the Minnesota game, started and played the whole way vs. Michigan and then starred in relief of Bolden vs. NU. He has accounted for six touchdowns and no interceptions in the last two games as the offense has hit its stride.

"McGloin has benefited from the fact that the offensive line is a little bit more consistent, has a little bit more confidence in the timing, the backs have a little bit more confidence in what they're doing," Paterno said. "We're catching the ball a little better."

Overall, Penn State is still ninth in the Big Ten with 24.2 points per game and eighth with 396.4 yards. Penn State has also struggled in the red zone with only 17 touchdowns in 33 trips.

Things have been different under Matt McGloin, though, as the sophomore has completed more than 60 percent of his passes in the last two games. Overall, he's completed 41 of 70 passes (58.6 percent) for 551 yards, seven touchdowns and only a single interception.

"I think he has all the mechanics, and he's definitely done a great job of just managing the game and not getting too flustered," Ohio State defensive lineman Cameron Heyward said. "It's going to be critical for us to get after him."

Bolden first lost his job because of a concussion, and Paterno liked how the 6-3, 221-pounder was progressing. He has completed 110 of 188 passes (58.5 percent) for 1,350 yards, five touchdowns and seven interceptions.

The third quarterback is Kevin Newsome, a 6-2, 225-pound sophomore who was presumed the favorite for the job after backing up Daryll Clark last year. Instead, Paterno said Newsome hasn't gotten it done on the mental side, and for the year Newsome is 6 of 13 for 78 yards, no touchdowns and no picks.

The running game figured to be a strength of the team with Evan Royster coming back for his third year of being the featured back, but the 2009 first-team All-Big Ten choice struggled at the start of the season after drawing criticism from some for bulking up to arrive at camp at 225 pounds.

Having shed some of the weight, Royster has improved as the season has gone on. He has topped 100 yards in consecutive games, and for the year, he has 734 yards and four touchdowns on 142 carries.

Royster also has a pair of talented backups in junior Stephfon Green and true freshman Silas Redd. Redd is coming off a 131-yard performance vs. Northwestern that included the game-winning touchdown, and he has 46 rushes for 328 yards, a 7.1-yard average. He is yet to score a touchdown.

Green (5-10, 197) is a speedster who has been his backup for three years now, and he has 42 rushes for 157 yards and a touchdown.

"Royster is our first stringer," Paterno said. "He's played a lot of football, has had a lot of success, knows what's going on and is very dependable. Then both Green and Redd we like very much and we'd like to get both of them a little bit more work."

Junior Joe Suhey is listed as the top fullback and had six catches vs. Northwestern, while 6-1, 236-pound sophomore Michael Zordich, the son of the former Penn State All-America safety with the same name, has a pair of rushing scores.

Out wide, junior Derek Moye brings some talent to the table. The Nittany Lions' top target, Moye has 33 catches for 615 yards and four touchdowns.

Senior and converted quarterback Brett Brackett, one of the team's two co-captains, has had a breakout season as well. A big target for Bolden at 6-6, 242, Brackett has 28 grabs for 385 yards and four touchdowns.

Two sophomores have increased their roles in 2010 in Justin Brown and Devon Smith. Brown is another big target with 16 grabs for 219 yards, while the 5-7, 157-pound Smith brings speed to the table and has 23 catches for 281 yards and a TD.

Injuries have killed Penn State at the tight end spot, where projected starter Andrew Szczerba (back) and Garry Gilliam (knee) are out for the season. True freshman Kevin Haplea has taken over, but he has only two grabs for 25 yards.

The Penn State offensive line has gotten better throughout the year. The Nittany Lions start two seniors and three juniors, though the only player in the same starting spot that he was a year ago is left guard Johnnie Trouman. The 6-4, 323-pounder started the year in Paterno's doghouse behind junior DeOn'tae Pannell (6-5, 317) before emerging to start the last six games.

The other returning starter is Wisniewski (6-3, 306), who has moved to right guard after being the first-team All-Big Ten center a year ago. Both his father, Leo, and uncle, Steve, were linemen at Penn State who went on to NFL careers.

The new center is senior Doug Klopacz (6-3, 286), while junior Quinn Barham is a svelte 6-3, 298-pounder who uses his quickness to his advantage and has played all three positions on the line in years past.

The right tackle is junior Chima Okoli (6-4, 291), a converted defensive lineman who took over when Lou Eliades suffered a knee injury Sept. 25 vs. Temple.

Defensive Personnel Report
Penn State's Cover-3 defense has been average according to the statistics, but it has been boosted by shutting down such nonconference foes as Youngstown State and Kent State. Alabama, Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan all have topped 400 yards on the Nittany Lions, led by Illinois' 437 yards.

"I think at times we've played very good defense," Paterno said. "Other times our immaturity and our injuries showed up."

The Nittany Lions are fifth in the Big Ten in scoring defense at 20.1 points allowed per game and sixth in yardage at 346.0. The team has struggled forcing turnovers, nabbing a total of 11 in nine games.

"We're not getting (to the quarterback) and we've spent an awful lot of time on trying to create some turnovers," Paterno said. "I think part of it is the fact that, No. 1, you've got to give the other guys credit. They've been very careful with the football. But we still have not ... our ball reaction at times hasn't been quite what you would like it to be so you don't come up with an interception.

"Sometimes we're right around it. We don't make the play. We've started to make some plays offensively. Now we've got to start to make some defensively."

Injuries have also left the defense decimated, with six starters missing time in ends Jack Crawford and Eric Latimore, linebackers Michael Mauti and Bani Gbadyu and safeties Nick Sukay and Andrew Dailey. Sukay (chest) is expected to miss the Ohio State game, while Crawford (foot) and Latimore (wrist) are still working back into the rotation.

The middle of the defensive line has at least stayed healthy, with senior co-captain Ollie Ogbu and junior Devon Still starting every game. Ogbu, whose start against Northwestern was the team-best 36th of his career, has 37 tackles and 7½ stops for loss.

Still, a one-time OSU recruit, has a team-best four sacks among his 29 tackles.

Crawford played sparingly vs. Northwestern and could start the Ohio State game. Another player the Buckeyes went after in the recruiting process, the England native has 11 tackles, including three for loss, in six games.

The other starter at end is likely to be sophomore Pete Massaro, who has started all but the first two games while making 23 tackles, 6½ TFL and three sacks.

Sophomore Jordan Hill moved from tackle to end because of the injuries and has started three times there. His season stats include 26 stops.

The one constant for the Nittany Lions at linebacker has been middle man Chris Colasanti, who has finally received a starting role in his senior season. He leads the team by a hefty margin with 83 tackles including seven for loss.

Nate Stupar and Michael Mauti have split time at one outside spot. Despite missing one game with an ankle injury, Mauti is second on the team with 60 tackles and two sacks, and the 6-2, 229-pounder can play in passing situations.

Stupar (6-1, 231) has 45 tackles to go with 4½ TFL, two sacks and an interception.

Bani Gbadyu is the starter on the other side when healthy. A fourth-year contributor and part-time starter since 2008, Gbadyu has 35 tackles on the year.

Members of Penn State's secondary have only five interceptions in the first nine games, and three of those were by the injured Sukay. The team's passing efficiency defense sits 77th in the country and seventh in the Big Ten.

Cornerback D'Anton Lynn has started every game and is tied for third on the team with 50 tackles. The junior also has two interceptions.

Chaz Powell, who played wide receiver last season and has switched back and forth between there and cornerback in 2010, has started the last two games opposite Lynn. While playing defense, the junior has four tackles and two pass breakups.

Sophomore Stephon Morris started the first seven games. Morris (5-8, 185) has 29 tackles and one pass breakup on the year.

With Sukay out, the top safety is Drew Astorino. The junior is undersized and has been banged up while holding onto a starting role the past two seasons, and he has 50 tackles on the season.

Malcolm Willis, a redshirt freshman, has moved into the team's starting hero role, a strong safety who plays close to the line. He has 32 tackles on the year.

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