COLUMBUS – Looking through The Daily Collegian, the student newspaper at Penn State, earlier this week I discovered a story about myths students there hear about their school.
One of the myths is the ever-present ghost story, which every campus has. In the Penn State version, a former university president supposedly haunts an academic building.
Some of the others are considerably more creative, though just as untrue.
Another myth says that if a student is hit by a Centre Area Transit Authority bus on campus, they will get free tuition at Penn State. They might get crutches, but there’s no tuition break.
Even the Berkey Creamery, which has people lining up around the corner to get some of its legendary ice cream on football Saturdays, has a myth.
Supposedly, the reason its ice cream is not sold off campus is that its fat content exceeds a federal regulation. In truth, Penn State just chooses not to market the ice cream off campus.
A year ago when Ohio State led Penn State 21-7 in the fourth quarter the idea that the Nittany Lions could win that football game might have been a candidate to be added to that list of myths.
But, with the help of two fourth-quarter special teams meltdowns by OSU, Penn State won 24-21. And without that victory, this afternoon’s match-up between the two teams in Ohio Stadium might not be quite as big as it is.
With a roster that includes talented players like Saquon Barkley, Trace McSorley, Mike Gesicki and Jason Cabinda, the Nittany Lions eventually would have found their way to the Top 10.
But it might have taken them a little bit longer to get the confidence that became part of their team make-up after that win over Ohio State. Without it, there definitely would have been no Big Ten championship game and no Rose Bowl for Penn State and who knows what else there might not have been.
That is all speculation, which might be appropriate, because these two teams appear so evenly matched this season that a prediction feels even more like a guess than usual.
No. 2 Penn State (7-0, 4-0 Big Ten) and No. 6 Ohio State (6-1, 4-0 Big Ten) are both very talented and on hot streaks coming into the game.
The winner will have the inside track to winning the Big Ten East Division and getting a spot in the Big Ten championship game. The game means a lot to Penn State if it hopes to reach the College Football Playoff and even more for Ohio State, which would surely drop out of the running for the playoff with a second loss.
Both teams can play the revenge card if they choose to do it. Ohio State has to feel like it outplayed Penn State for three quarters or more last year. And Penn State has its own reasons for revenge.
It beat OSU and won the Big Ten championship game, but watched Ohio State get a playoff invitation instead of them and then the Buckeyes were embarrassed by Clemson in a playoff semifinal.
A case could be made for either team. It’s close.
But In this series, going with the team that has homefield advantage has worked 67 percent of the time.
Since Penn State joined the Big Ten in 1993, there have been 12 OSU-Penn State games in Columbus and 12 in State College, Pa. Ohio State is 10-2 at home and 6-6 at Penn State.
The prediction: Ohio State 31, Penn State 28.