Allar, No. 7 Penn State ‘playing really good complementary football’ ahead of top-10 game at No. 3 Ohio State

It seems Drew Allar will have plenty of ticket requests to attend to this week.

Allar will return to his home state of Ohio to play the No. 3 Buckeyes in a top-10 showdown with No. 7 Penn State, and it’s a challenge he said he looks forward to.

“I don’t know how many ticket request I have. I delivered that to my parents,” Allar said. “I don’t worry about the tickets because I got to be focused on the game. I can’t be more focused on anything extra other than that, but I mean, it’s just a great opportunity to go back home. Obviously, we’re going to be facing a top team in the country on both sides of the ball and it’s going to be a great challenge for us.”

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An Ohio quarterback playing for Penn State and a Pennsylvania native playing for Ohio State will be the premier matchup of Week 8 when the Nittany Lions travel to face the Buckeyes.

Allar will represent Medina, Ohio, while playing for the Nittany Lions and Ohio State quarterback Kyle McCord will represent St. Joseph’s Prep High School based in Pennsylvania.

Allar said “going out and executing our jobs” and “being sound in our assignments” will be key to playing in a raucous environment at Ohio Stadium, a place where he and his friends spent plenty of time growing up.

“I did grow up going to Ohio State games like a lot of a lot of us did in Ohio,” Allar said. “They got a great fan base, a great atmosphere. It’s going to be a very challenging atmosphere. They’re a very passionate fan base. But I think it’s nothing we’re not prepared for. We practice in very loud environments all the time.”

Penn State enters the game Saturday atop the Big Ten Conference and NCAA in a number of categories, notably on the defensive side of the ball.

The Nittany Lions own the top total defense in the country allowing 193.7 yards per game — almost 40 yards fewer than the next closest team.

Offensively, Penn State has the top scoring offense in the Big Ten behind an average of 44.3 points per game.

“I think we’re playing really good complementary football, offense, defense and special teams,” Penn State head coach James Franklin said. “I think that’s been really important for us.”

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When Penn State and Ohio State matched up a year ago in Happy Valley, the Nittany Lions had a loss and ranked No. 13 while the Buckeyes were unbeaten, the No. 2 team in the country and playing on the road.

The Nittany Lions drew within 30-24 with less than six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, and they seemed to be within striking distance of a home upset.

But Ohio State defensive end J.T. Tuimoloau had other plans, as he recorded two interceptions, two sacks, a forced fumble and fumble recovery.

“I think last year’s experience was a learning tool for our entire team, for all of our coordinators and all of our coaches,” Franklin said. “I think we played really well for three quarters and didn’t finish. I think that’s a combination of a lot of things. But yeah, there are opportunities to grow and get better as long as you approach them that way.”

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This year, Penn State and Ohio State will have new starting quarterbacks in Allar and McCord. Both have started all six games this season.

Both Allar and McCord are in the top-three in the Big Ten in completion percentage, and both have at least 11 touchdown passes. McCord leads the conference with 275.2 passing yards per game while Allar is seventh at 209 yards per game.

Standing 6-foot-5 and weighing 242 pounds, Allar said the biggest area he’d like to improve is consistency in his footwork.

“I think I still have a lot of room to grow in all areas of playing quarterback,” Allar said. “I feel like the times I have missed throws that I shouldn’t be missing is because of footwork that I just, staying a little bit calmer in the pocket and not burning clean pockets, and I’ve been focusing on that the past two or three weeks, so I feel like it’s paying off so far, but just got to keep hammering that down to make sure it doesn’t cost us in the game.”

The quarterback competitions took place in the preseason for the two respective programs, and McCord won the job over redshirt freshman Devin Brown.

Franklin said he sees similarities between how Ohio State handles its quarterback room with Penn State. Plus, there is familiarity between Franklin, McCord and the Nittany Lions.

“They do a really good job of I think they’re approaching it a little bit like we’ve approached it with Drew with a first-year starting quarterback. And he’s doing what he needs to do for them to be successful offensively and win games,” Franklin said “We recruited him. We know a lot about him. We had a ton of respect for him out of high school and continue to, and think he’s going to be a challenge for us on Saturday as well.”

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Penn State will meet Ohio State in a top-10 battle for the fourth time in the past seven seasons and for the first time since 2019.

The Buckeyes and head coach Ryan Day have lost only to Michigan in conference play since Day took the helm prior to the 2019 season, but this could be the most stout Penn State program yet.

“We’re trying to find a way to get a win this week against a really good team, against a program that we got a tremendous respect for, coaching staff we got a ton of respect for, the talent that they have,” Franklin said. “But we approach it the same every single week. Everybody on the outside is talking. We’re approaching it the way we do every single week. This is a really important game. Why? Because of how we’ve handled the previous six.”