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Buckeyes will prove elite status to Penn State yet again

Justin Fields-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields can boost his Heisman Trophy campaign at Penn State. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Question Of The Day

Buckeyes will prove elite status to Penn State yet again

The speculation, debate and conversations about Ohio State never end, and Lettermen Row is always ready to dive into the discussions. All week long, senior writer Austin Ward will field topics about the Buckeyes submitted by readers and break down anything that’s on the minds of the Best Damn Fans in the Land. Have a question that needs to be tackled, like the one today about Ohio State and Penn State? Send it in right here — and check back daily for the answers.

Ohio State-Penn State-gambling odds

Ohio State is again a double-digit favorite over Penn State. (Courtesy/Vegas Insider)

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — The message from James Franklin was supposed to be inspirational for Penn State.

Instead it will just linger as a brutally honest assessment about where his program sits in relation to the kings of the Big Ten since there’s nothing really that suggests he can make the leap to the Ohio State level.

“We are not an elite football team yet,” Franklin said after losing to the Buckeyes here two years ago. “The work that it’s going to take to get to be an elite program, it’s going to be just as hard as the ground and distance that we have already traveled.

“We are a great program. We lost to an elite program, and we are that close. We have gotten comfortable being great. We will no longer be comfortable being great. We are going to learn from this and grow from this, and we are going to find a way to take that next step as a program. I give you my word.”

James Franklin-Penn State-Nittany Lions

Penn State coach James Franklin is falling further behind Ohio State in the Big Ten. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Instead, Penn State dropped another game to the Buckeyes last season and watched them win the Big Ten for the third consecutive season. And last week was another stark reminder of the challenge of keeping up with Ohio State when one program wasn’t entirely happy despite rolling to a blowout win and the other was choking away a win at Indiana.

The Nittany Lions have recruited at a high level. They’ve had wildly competitive, physical matchups that have pushed the Buckeyes to the brink over the last few years. And even without a White Out in Beaver Stadium, Ohio State is fully aware of the challenge of going on the road to play a team that on paper should be its closest competitor in the league.

So, Franklin is right about what he’s built at Penn State. But it’s still hard to see how he’s going to take the next step, and Ohio State is primed to show him the difference one more time.

The pick: Ohio State 45, Penn State 17

 

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Austin Ward

Austin Ward is Lettermen Row's senior writer covering Ohio State football and basketball. The award-winning journalist has covered the Buckeyes since 2012, spending five of those seasons working for ESPN after previous stints at the Casper Star-Tribune and Knoxville News Sentinel.