Don’t sleep on Penn State, Day says

By Jim Naveau - [email protected]

COLUMBUS – Ohio State’s game against Penn State on Saturday night at Ohio Stadium looked like it was going to one of the top games of the week in college football until late last Saturday afternoon.

That was when the Nittany Lions (5-2, 2-2 Big Ten) lost a nine-overtime game to Illinois.

With that loss, any chance of getting into the College Football Playoff disappeared for Penn State. It plunged from No. 7 to No. 20 in the AP and found itself two games behind Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State in the Big Ten East Division.

Many people think Penn State’s loss takes something away from Saturday night’s game. But OSU coach Ryan Day was working hard to build up its importance at his weekly press conference on Tuesday.

“When you look at the games that we’ve had with them in the past, they’re always a dogfight,” Day said. “That’s just the way it’s been, and I know it’s going to be that way. They have a lot of pride. They’re one of the best programs in the country.”

No. 5 Ohio State (6-1, 4-0 Big Ten) has won eight of its last nine games against Penn State, but two of those wins were by one point and the loss was by three points.

“When Penn State comes to town we have to be on our game. We have to show up and play for four quarters,” Day said.

“There are a lot of things we need to improve on. There things we need to make sure we are locked in on. We want to have great energy. We want to have great execution. We want to have great toughness and we want to have great discipline.”

Some other thoughts from Day:

INJURY REPORT: Running back Marcus Crowley, who missed the second half of the 2019 season because of a torn ACL, will be out “for a long time” because of an unspecified injury, Day said. Crowley has rushed for 103 yards on 20 carries in three games this season. Running back Master Teague, who was unavailable for last Saturday’s 54-7 win over Indiana, is expected to return this week. Wide receiver Julian Fleming, who could have played in an emergency last week, is expected to return to practice and be available this week.

OVERTIME FORMAT: Day said he wasn’t sure what to make of Penn State and Illinois playing nine overtimes before the Illini won 20-18 last Saturday.

This is a first year for a revised overtime format in college football in which teams can score touchdowns or kick field goals in the first two overtimes but after that they can only score on two-point conversions.

“All of us were probably in the same situation, we weren’t sure what to make of it. This was certainly a new experience,” Day said.

“I don’t think that’s what they expected when they put the rule in there. The only thing I thought was we’d better have more two-point plays ready to go,” he said.

HARRISON IMPRESSES: Freshman wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. had two catches against Indiana and tackled the Hoosiers’ punter in the end zone for a safety. Day liked the catches and Harrison’s work on special teams.

“It starts with special teams. I think his attitude has been excellent on kickoff returns and punt returns. He and Emeka (Egbuka) have been very good on special teams and it just translates over to playing on offense. He’s got a very, very bright future,” Day said.

AWARDS AND HONORS: Quarterback C.J. Stroud and tight end Jeremy Ruckert were OSU’s offensive players of the game against Indiana and defensive end Zach Harrison, linebacker Teradja Mitchell and cornerback Demario McCall were the defensive players of the game.

Quarterback Jagger LaRoe, offensive lineman Ben Christman, linebacker Reid Carrico and defensive lineman Bryce Prater were the scout team players of the week.

By Jim Naveau

[email protected]