Who's the biggest challenger to Ohio State in the B1G? Phil Steele gives his answer
Not many teams in the B1G have posed much of a threat to Ohio State’s dominance in the conference over the last decade. Nearly every year, the Buckeyes are the preseason favorites to win the league title.
That will be the case entering the 2020 season, as well. With a Heisman-caliber quarterback in Justin Fields, a plethora of talent on both sides of the football and Ryan Day entering his second season as the full-time head coach, Ohio State has all the tools to clear a path to Indianapolis again this fall.
But that doesn’t mean the Bucks won’t be met with some challenges. And the biggest obstacle standing in Ohio State’s way in 2020 will be Penn State, according to college football guru Phil Steele.
“I do think Ohio State’s biggest challenger and the Big Ten is Penn State. When you look at Penn State, they’ve got the majority of the team coming back,” Steele said in 247Sports’ Social Distance series “…This is a loaded Penn State team and they get Ohio State at home. Now you wonder how many folks will be on hand for the whiteout conditions on October the 24th, but we’ll worry about that late October, as long as we’re playing football, we’re happy, right?”
Penn State is coming off an 11-2 year in 2019, which included a Cotton Bowl victory over Memphis. The Nittany Lions return Sean Clifford under center, a loaded backfield led by Journey Brown, the best defensive player in the sport in Micah Parsons and added Kirk Ciarrocca as offensive coordinator.
Expectations are high for the Nittany Lions.
As if that wasn’t enough, Ohio State will have to travel to Happy Valley this October for the annual B1G East rivalry matchup. Granted, it Beaver Stadium may not be its usual, nightmarish environment due to potential capacity restrictions because of the pandemic, but Penn State would rather have that game in its own backyard versus a trip to Columbus.
The Ohio State-Penn State game has been circled as the most critical game in the B1G this season. Steele thinks that’s the case, as well.