Iowa Football

Big Ten football notebook: Penn State, Ohio State likely to pile up the points Saturday

Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Trace McSorley carries the ball for a touchdown during last season's game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium. (USA TODAY Sports)
Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Trace McSorley carries the ball for a touchdown during last season's game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium. (USA TODAY Sports)

CEDAR RAPIDS — The Big 12 has the reputation of being a scoreboard-melting football conference, but the nation’s top two scoring teams meet Saturday, and they just happen to come from the Big Ten.

Fourth-ranked Ohio State plays at No. 9 Penn State (6:30 p.m. on ABC), and there are sure to be a lot of points scored. Penn State leads the nation in scoring at 55.5 points per game, with OSU next at 54.5.

Ohio State is generally considered a 3.5-point favorite, but check out the over-under. That’s a mere 70.5 points.

It’ll be a “White Out” game at Beaver Stadium, by the way. Once a season, PSU fans wear all white.

“We have a tremendous challenge,” Penn State Coach Franklin told local reporters after Wednesday’s practice. “We’re going to have to play well, but I like our team, and I like our chances.”

The quarterback matchup is intriguing, with Penn State’s Trace McSorley against emerging sophomore Dwayne Haskins. Ohio State will be without star defensive lineman Nick Bosa, who likely won’t play until November because of injury.

“A winner,” Ohio State Coach Urban Meyer told reporters at his weekly press conference, when asked about McSorley. “A guy who can do it all. Is competitive.”

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Rating the quarterbacks

It’s always interesting to see what other writers think about your players, so Iowa fans should find the recent musings of PennLive.com’s David Jones. He ranked all 14 Big Ten quarterbacks, with freshman Artur Sitkowski of Rutgers coming in 14th and (surprise, surprise) Trace McSorley of Penn State at No. 1, just ahead of Ohio State sophomore sensation Dwayne Haskins.

Where did Jones rank Iowa’s Nate Stanley? Toward the middle at eighth.

“I am sort of ambivalent about Stanley,” Jones wrote. “Partly because I saw what he did in the 55-24 thrashing of Ohio State last year, yet I’ve seen a lot of his games that look like that Wisconsin loss on Saturday. But also, because I just wonder how he’d do under another system. Kirk Ferentz has gotten to the age that he recognizes the dinosaur tendencies within himself but also isn’t too old to adapt and change. He’s caught about halfway in-between.

“That’s not great for Stanley. He’s got a pro body and can fire the ball around. I’d like to see him unleashed with some real rockets on the outside to help him, but that’s never happening at Iowa. It’s gotta be Tight End City.”

Throwing shade at Nebraska

ESPN football analyst (and SEC enthusiast) Paul Finebaum appeared on ESPN’s “Get Up!” show Wednesday and was not exactly complimentary of Nebraska. When asked who his most disappointing team in the nation is right now, he pointed directly at the 0-3 Cornhuskers and first-year coach Scott Frost.

“You expected more,” Finebaum said. “Scott Frost is a prodigal son. He won the championship there. He was the hottest coach in the offseason, and that team has just been a disaster. Every week, he says, ‘We’re gonna learn from this.’ What are you going to learn? Your team is terrible. That’s not entirely on him, but he has to show something. He has capital, though. Some of the other coaches around college football who are O for the season do not.”

Ohio State tweet draws backlash

Ohio State deleted a tweet Thursday after it drew swift and growing condemnation Thursday. The tweet featured an OSU player in his uniform and helmet putting his lips to his mouth with the phrase “Silence” posted next to him. Particulars of the Saturday game against Penn State also were included.

Meyer, of course, was suspended for OSU’s first three games for not adequately reporting domestic abuse allegations against one of his assistant coaches, Zach Smith. Ohio State said the “Silence” moniker’s meaning was meant that the team wanted to play well enough to silence Penn State fans Saturday.

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“As we have done in the past, and in preparation for Saturday’s game, we issued a message to our fans via social media outlets,” an Ohio State spokesman said in an email to media outlets. “The message has been interpreted in ways we absolutely did not intend, and we have removed it from our channels. We understand why people were critical.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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