Day talks matchup with Penn State


COLUMBUS — Ohio State returns to the road for just the second time this season when it travels to take on the No. 13 Penn State Nittany Lions (6-1) on Saturday in State College, Pennsylvania. On Tuesday, head coach Ryan Day met with the media to recap last week’s performance and to preview the challenge ahead against Penn State.

Penn State’s lone loss of the season came at the hands of the Michigan Wolverines in a game in which Penn State allowed more than 400 yards rushing. After struggling mightily to run the ball a week ago against Iowa, Saturday’s matchup could provide a prime opportunity for the Ohio State offense to get back to the balanced attack it’s grown accustomed to this season.

However, while the opportunity may, in fact, exist, Day said on Tuesday he doesn’t get too consumed by what one team did to another and how it may correlate to his own team.

“I think every week is a different season,” Day said. “I look at it like that. You start from scratch, and you look at where you are and where your opponent is. You look at the matchup personnel-wise, you look at the matchup schematically, and then as you get later into the week, you start to figure out how it fits, what that matchup looks like.”

The Penn State defense is under the guidance of first-year defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, a coach for which Day said he has considerable respect. And while Michigan may have had its way with Diaz’s defense, Day expects to get their best shot on Saturday.

“They have a really talented defense, and (Diaz) is really good in terms of schematics and what they do. They do a lot of stuff, so we have to be prepared for it,” Day said.

Saturday will mark Ohio State’s first game against a ranked opponent since its opening week victory over Notre Dame, which has since lost three more times. There is also a high likelihood Ohio State doesn’t square off against another ranked team until Michigan comes to Columbus to round out the regular season schedule, making Saturday an important chance to make a statement nationally with the first College Football Playoff rankings of the season set to be unveiled next week.

But aside from rankings or prognosticators, Day said Tuesday the game is another critical step in building the toughness and ability to compete at an elite level every week that has been the emphasis of the team dating back to the end of the Rose Bowl last season.

“We know that we have to bring it every week,” he said. “We know that when we see the schedule, going into State College is going to be a huge challenge. It always is. Our guys understand what a challenge this is going to be, so we have to have a great week of preparation. This is part of that competitive excellence and competitive stamina in bringing it every single week, and going on the road and winning a game like this is going to be huge.”

Ohio State appeared to have caught a break with how the schedules fell as Penn State announced before the season it would be its game against Minnesota, not Ohio State, that would serve as its annually-celebrated “white out” game. Saturday will mark the first time since 2003 that Ohio State has not played at Penn State in a scheduled night game, and the Buckeyes surely won’t mind skipping out on one of the game’s most hostile environments.

Still, Beaver Stadium is sure to be lively even for a noon kickoff given the opponent, and Day is expecting the Nittany Lion faithful to still have an impact on the game.

“No matter when you go into Penn State, it’s going to be a challenge,” Day said. “They do a great job with the atmosphere … We know whether it’s a night game, afternoon game, noon game, it’s going to be a challenge. Their crowd is going to be into it, and they’ll play a factor.”

He added, “And they’re a good team. You can see what they did last week, you can see what they’ve done all season. They have really good coaches, really good players, a veteran quarterback … We have to play our ‘A’ game.”

Ohio State head coach Ryan Day looks out into the stadium as the Buckeyes wait to run onto the field prior to Saturday’s game against visiting Iowa. State head coach Ryan Day looks out into the stadium as the Buckeyes wait to run onto the field prior to Saturday’s game against visiting Iowa. Joshua Keeran | The Gazette

By Dillon Davis

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Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.

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