Location: University Park, Pennsylvania
2018 record: 9-4
Head coach: James Franklin (sixth year, 48-21)
2019 record so far: 3-0
Record against Ohio State since 2010: 2-7
What’s happened so far in 2019:
No. 12 in the AP Top 25 poll, Penn State started the 2019 season strong, boasting 79 points in its home opener against Idaho and displaying a 45-13 win over Buffalo. A late third quarter touchdown run against Pittsburgh kept its win streak alive with a 17-10 victory, and the Nittany Lions look to stay undefeated as they take on Maryland Friday night.
Key offensive player:
Junior wide receiver KJ Hamler has been crucial to Penn State’s offense. With 245 yards in three games, Hamler has proved to be a consistent receiver in an offense that ranks No. 5 in the Big Ten at 473 yards per game. Scoring twice during the Idaho game, Hamler caught passes from sophomore quarterback Sean Clifford to put the Nittany Lions on top, and has been able to make explosive plays when the running game has been stifled.
Key defensive player:
Up-and-coming sophomore outside linebacker Micah Parsons is just one aspect of Penn State’s top five nationally ranked scoring defense. In a decisive fourth-down play against Idaho, Parsons stopped sophomore tight end Logan Kendall on a scoring drive, allowing no gain. With 20 total tackles, he’s made huge plays against opposing offenses, which have scored only 30 total points against this unit.
Penn State lost several offensive starters in the 2019 NFL Draft. With young and inexperienced players at almost every position, Penn State’s offense has been inconsistent thus far. Clifford has yet to find a passing groove, completing just 59 percent of his throws, and the running game has relied on freshman running back Noah Cain to get points off the ground. The defense has carried the team in the first three games, but as it heads into Big Ten play, the offense has to find a more effective and consistent rhythm.