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Fact or Fiction: Ohio State will blow out Penn State

National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell and National Recruiting Analyst Adam Gorney tackle three topics daily and determine whether they believe the statements or not.

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1. Ohio State will blow out Penn State.

J.K. Dobbins
J.K. Dobbins (AP Images)

Farrell’s take: FICTION. Based on the two rosters you’d think Ohio State would take this one big with four- and five-stars everywhere for the Buckeyes and Penn State having lost to an inferior, on paper, Minnesota.

But hold on. The Buckeyes haven't really been tested this year and this Nittany Lions defense is awfully good. A lot will depend on how the Penn State offense performs and if Sean Clifford can hang with Justin Fields. This could be a sloppy, ugly game and the first real challenge for Ohio State. The Buckeyes will win, but it won't be a blowout.

Gorney’s take: FICTION. It wouldn’t shock me if this game ends 42-17 Ohio State, but the history of this series is not one of blowouts. Penn State is going to come into this game looking to prove a point and if the Nittany Lions can find a way to win then they’ll be in the College Football Playoff hunt again.

Ohio State has blown everybody out, but the competition has been weak and this will be by far the most athletic defense the Buckeyes have faced yet. Minnesota killed Penn State’s secondary and the same could happen again, but my prediction is that this game will be close into the fourth quarter.



2. Eno Benjamin's NFL Draft stock is trending down.

Eno Benjamin
Eno Benjamin (AP Images)

Farrell’s take: FACT. This is a tough one because everyone knows I love Eno Benjamin, but the last few games have not been kind to him. Fumbles have become an issue and NFL coaches hate turnovers. I blame some of Benjamin’s erratic play on the Arizona State roster as he’s asked to carry a team with a bad offensive line and a freshman quarterback. He is one of my favorite running backs and it looks like he is sliding into third- and fourth-round territory. Should he have stuck with his Iowa commitment?

Gorney’s take: FICTION. Benjamin’s stats are down this season but so are his attempts - and in a dramatic way. As a sophomore, the former four-star rushed for 1,642 yards and 16 touchdowns but he had to carry the ball 300 times. I will admit that Benjamin doesn’t look as dynamic this season but he has just 188 touches for 801 yards and eight scores. The NFL should care that Benjamin has had it dialed back and will have more tread on the tires than just his rushing yards and touchdowns. They will - and I don’t believe teams will dock him because of it.


3. Penn State would be a top four team in the country if Justin Fields stuck with his commitment.

Justin Fields
Justin Fields (AP Images)

Farrell’s take: FACT. This is an interesting one and kind of unfair because there are so many factors at play, but it’s still fun to think about. Justin Fields originally committed to Penn State and then decommitted and ended up at Georgia. After a freshman year where he wasn’t utilized well, he transferred to Ohio State and has them squarely in the playoff projections.

But what if he had stuck with Penn State? Trace McSorley was the star quarterback for the Nittany Lions last season, so it’s unlikely Fields would have started. But would James Franklin have used him better and would he have stuck it out at Penn State knowing he’d likely be the man this season ahead of Sean Clifford? We’ll never know, but if he did there is no doubt in my mind Penn State would be in the top four right now and possibly favored over Ohio State this weekend.

Gorney’s take: FICTION. Clifford is not getting enough respect here. Penn State’s quarterback has 286 more passing yards this season and even if Fields is dominating in total touchdowns, Clifford is hardly a slouch and he’s a great fit in what the Nittany Lions’ want to do offensively.

To beat Ohio State and get back in the playoff discussion, Penn State needs to find more pass catchers and playmakers on the outside and stop relying on tight end Pat Freiermuth and receiver K.J. Hamler so much (if he plays), but I’m not sure Fields running the offense would dramatically change things all that much.