Let’s be real: The next Penn State game that the team has any chance of losing is still almost three weeks away.
Penn State has its bye this week, then a “cupcake game” against UMass Oct. 14.
Although head coach James Franklin, defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and the rest of the program probably wouldn’t admit it publicly, Penn State’s going to be 6-0 by Oct. 21, barring a calamity that would rival Steve Harvey announcing the wrong “Miss Universe” winner in 2015. Elsewhere in the Big Ten, Ohio State— which has its bye this past week— has Maryland at home this Saturday and Purdue on the road the next.
Although both of those teams are better than UMass, they’ll also be games OSU— ranked No. 3 in the Coaches Poll and No. 4 in the AP— is expected to win, perhaps convincingly.
If all goes according to plan, Penn State, ranked sixth in both polls, and Ohio State will meet in Columbus on Fox’s Big Noon Kickoff with both teams undefeated and ranked in the top ten, if not the top five.
Diaz met with reporters via zoom early Tuesday afternoon, and Johnny McGonigal of PennLive asked him his early thoughts on Ohio State.
“My opinions are absolutely very strong,” Diaz said, “and they’re absolutely going to stay to myself.
Penn State is using some of the extra time this bye week to start preparing for Ohio State, as expected. Asked DC Manny Diaz for his early thoughts on the Buckeyes: “My opinions are absolutely very strong. And they're absolutely going to stay to myself.” pic.twitter.com/mF46meMzyC
— Johnny McGonigal (@jmcgonigal9) October 3, 2023
Diaz also confirmed that Penn State’s indeed using the bye week to get an early start on Ohio State prep.
“Always work ahead,” Diaz said. “Have a great group of analysts here working ahead. What everyone does in the bye week is watching the next two of three opponents, get a feel for what’s going on down in the league. Definitely paying attention to games coming up. You want to be sure that it’s not the first time you see or get a feel for who they are.”
This will be Diaz’s first game in Columbus since becoming Penn State’s DC before the 2022 season. “The Horseshoe” has been a house of horrors for Penn State.
Since Franklin took over as coach in 2014, Penn State’s 0-4 in Columbus and 1-8 overall against Ohio State. Bucking that trend and beating the Buckeyes this season would go a long way in not only changing a narrative, but getting Penn State to its ultimate goals: Winning a Big Ten and national championship.