Penn State vs. No. 2 Ohio State: Nittany Lions host Buckeyes in primetime


Penn State vs. No. 2 Ohio State: Nittany Lions host Buckeyes in primetime

Penn State (4-2, 2-1) vs. No. 2 Ohio State (6-0, 3-0)
Beaver Stadium, State College, Pennsylvania
Saturday, 8 p.m., ABC

Scouting Penn State
The Nittany Lions were off last week, but the week before beat Maryland 38-14, in what was probably their strongest overall effort since Langhorne native James Franklin became the head coach in 2014.

Saquon Barkley ran for 202 yards in that game, which was not only a career high for the sophomore running back but the most by a Penn State player since Larry Johnson ran for 279 against Michigan State in 2002. Barkley has rushed for 582 yards (5.0 yards per carry), fourth-most in the Big Ten, and had 194 in a 38-10 loss to the Buckeyes last year in Columbus. He is also second in the conference with nine touchdowns.

Lions linebackers Jason Cabinda and Brandon Bell, out since early in the season with undisclosed injuries, are expected to return this week to the beleaguered defense, which is led by safety Marcus Allen with 57 tackles. 

Scouting Ohio State
The Buckeyes (6-0) beat Wisconsin, 30-23, in overtime last week on the road, as J.T. Barrett threw a seven-yard touchdown pass to Noah Brown in the extra period and the OSU defense staved off the Badgers’ bid for a tie.

Barrett leads the Big Ten in passing efficiency, having completed 63.2 percent of his passes for 1,207 yards and 16 touchdowns, with four interceptions. He also presides over a unit that is fourth in the FBS in scoring (49.3 ppg) and rushing (300.5 ypg), and 12th in total offense (516.5). Tailback Mike Weber and H-back Curtis Samuel are second and 10th in the conference in rushing with 612 (6.5 ypc) and 456 yards (7.4), respectively, and Barrett has added 434.

The OSU defense, which like the offense has eight new starters this season, is third in the FBS in points allowed (12.8), sixth in yardage yielded (280.3) and 20th against the rush (120.8). That unit is also fourth in pass-efficiency defense, and its 11 interceptions are fifth-most in the country; safety Malik Hooker has four of those.

The Buckeyes lead the all-time series, 18-13, and have won the last four meetings.

Storyline to watch
Can Paris Palmer hold up at left tackle? He made 11 uneven starts last season, but was chained to the bench the first five weeks this fall. Then right tackle Andrew Nelson was lost for the season to a knee injury sustained in the second quarter of the Maryland game, Brendan Mahon moved from the left side to Nelson’s spot and Palmer was inserted. Tough opponent to face in your first start of the year.

What’s at stake
The Lions are seeking a signature victory. Besides their four consecutive losses to the Buckeyes, they have dropped three straight to both Michigan and Michigan State. The average score of those 10 losses is 38-13.

The Lions are improving, but Ohio State remains a cut above.

Ohio State 35, Penn State 17

Penn State holds off Marquette to reach NIT semifinals

USA Today Images

Penn State holds off Marquette to reach NIT semifinals


MILWAUKEE -- Lamar Stevens tied his career high with 30 points, Tony Carr added 25 and Penn State beat Marquette 85-80 on Tuesday night to advance to the NIT semifinals.

The Nittany Lions (24-13) will face Mississippi State (25-11) at Madison Square Garden in New York on March 27. They advanced to the NIT semis for the first time since winning the 2009 tournament.

Stevens hit three crucial buckets in the final three minutes, including a dunk off an alley-oop pass from Josh Reaves for an eight-point lead with one minute left. The 6-foot-8 Stevens then maneuvered through a couple Marquette players to secure a rebound off Andrew Rowsey's missed 3 with 46 seconds left.

Carr went 5 of 8 from the foul line over the final 30 seconds to give Marquette another chance. Rowsey hit a 3 and a layup to get the Golden Eagles as close as 83-80 with six seconds left before the Golden Eagles ran out of time.

Shep Garner scored 19 points and set two Penn State records, including most 3s in a season (112). Garner's 73 career wins are the most in a four-year span since Penn State joined the Big Ten in 1992-93.

Rowsey, a senior, scored 29 points for Marquette (21-14).

The Golden Eagles had whittled a 14-point deficit early in the second half to 72-68 with 2:39 left on three foul shots by Rowsey. Penn State went nearly three minutes without a bucket and got sloppy with the ball and the sharpshooting Golden Eagles started hitting 3s to get back in the game.

Villanova, Penn with polar opposite NCAA Tournament draws

Villanova, Penn with polar opposite NCAA Tournament draws

No surprises on the Main Line and well, the Quakers have quite the hill to climb to advance.

Villanova on Sunday night was awarded the 1-seed in the East Region and will face the winner of the LIU Brooklyn/Radford game Thursday in Pittsburgh. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:50 p.m. on TNT.

The Wildcats have been a top-two seed since 2014 and it's the second straight year they're a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Villanova was the No. 1 overall seed in last year's tournament.

Penn was named the 16th seed in the Midwest Region and will face the No. 1-seeded Kansas Jayhawks on Thursday at 2 p.m. on TBS in Wichita, Kansas.

Steve Donahue has the Quakers back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2007 in his third season as Penn's head coach.

The Quakers are 24-8 and this will be their 24th-ever appearance in the tournament.

'Nova survived a scare from Providence on Saturday night to win its second straight Big East title and its third in the past four years.

If the Wildcats beat LIU Brooklyn/Radford, they'll face the winner of the No. 8-seeded Virginia Tech and No. 9 seed Alabama. Purdue is the No. 2 seed in the East.

Also in the East are No. 3 Texas Tech and No. 4 Wichita State.