Ohio State Football: Establishing Passing Game Early Key to Win vs Penn State

Rick WeinerFeatured ColumnistOctober 26, 2012

JACKSONVILLE, FL - JANUARY 02:  Quaterback Braxton Miller #5 of Ohio State Buckeyes looks to pass during the first half at the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl against the Florida Gators at EverBank Field on January 2, 2012 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

It's easier said than done against a Penn State squad that has one of the staunchest defenses in the country, but Ohio State needs to pass the ball effectively—and early—if they hope to be smiling when they leave Happy Valley.

Penn State comes into the game allowing fewer than 16 points per game to the opposition, a number that puts them in the Top 15 nationally in scoring defense. They rank 21st against the run and 38th against the pass—it's simply not easy to move the ball against them.

It goes without saying that Braxton Miller is at his most dangerous when he's able to get out and run with the ball, a fact Penn State is no doubt well aware of.

For Miller to be able to run, he needs room—and that room isn't going to exist at the start of the game.

That's why getting things early through the air is key to their success.

These don't need to be bombs down the field—short completions will do the trick just fine.

Reminding Penn State that MIller isn't a running back, but a dual-threat quarterback—one who can beat them with his arm as well as his legs—will force the Nittany Lions to respect the pass.

That will create some room for Miller and Carlos Hyde to do what they do best, and that's run with the ball.

Once they've established that they can move the ball through the air and on the ground, Ohio State can go to work as they have throughout the season, moving the chains and finding the end zone.

With neither team eligible for postseason play, this is Penn State's bowl game.

Beaver Stadium is going to be rocking, and the Nittany Lions are going to be fired up.

Ohio State needs to execute their game plan to perfection if they are going to ruin the day for their not-so-gracious hosts.