It’s likely the Buckeyes have had their Halloween night clash (7:30 pm on ABC) with the 18th-ranked Nittany Lions circled on their calendars since this season’s schedule was finalized, but now, one of Ohio State’s toughest opponents of the season will head into Saturday’s Big Ten East showdown without a significant advantage: its whiteout crowd.
Once a year, Penn State encourages its fans to don all white during a home game, usually against a particularly tough opponent or for a critical game. This year, as there won’t be any fans in attendance due to COVID precautions, there won’t be any whiteout as well.
And according to former OSU head coach Urban Meyer in an interview with Breaking the Huddle host Joel Klatt, this bodes well for Ohio State.
“This is one [home environment] that really impacts the game. It impacts the pass rush, impacts just the whole week of practice,” Meyer said. He even translated this advantage directly into points. “It’s usually a 7 to 10-point differential that right now is zero.”
Currently, the Buckeyes are heading into Saturday night’s game as 12.5 point favorites.
However, even though the underdog Nittany Lions won’t have a whiteout advantage; are without star linebacker Micah Parsons (who opted out of playing this season due to COVID concerns), and are coming off a crushing overtime loss to unranked Indiana last week, this is likely to be one of the Buckeyes stiffest tests of the season.
While more attention each year is paid to the annual game OSU plays against the team that shall not be named, Penn State has turned in a better record than the Wolverines in three out of the last four years and has been a consistent force under head coach James Franklin. What’s more, the Nittany Lions last defeated the Buckeyes in 2016, while the maize and blue has dropped their last eight meetings with OSU.
So, in a strange year that seems to keep getting stranger, let’s hope the Buckeyes can offer us something consistent to hang on to.