Back in Black

Can Joshua Perry make life rough for Christian Hackenberg? - Photo: MCT Direct Phot

Buckeyes Welcome Nittany Lions With New Look

Tonight, the Buckeyes will welcome their old friends, the Penn State Nittany Lions, to The Shoe. The game will feature two teams that many felt could compete for the Big Ten title at the start of the season. Of course, only the Buckeyes have really looked the part.

The Buckeyes come into tonight's game with a pristine record of 6-0 and fresh off of  solid, although somewhat sloppy victory against Maryland. Still atop the polls in the #1 spot, the Buckeyes have held up to their end of the bargain despite struggling at times against lesser competition. The Nittany Lions should serve as a solid litmus test for the Buckeyes, as this will be the first team since Virginia Tech with enough talent to have a legitimate shot at an upset.

Christian Hackenberg - Photo: Keith Srakocic
Led by top NFL prospect Christian Hackenberg, Penn State has a legitimate passing attack that could give the Buckeyes trouble. With seven TDs against just two interceptions so far this season for 1086 yards and a 120 passer rating, Hackenberg has provided solid quarterback play the majority of the time. It's important to say "majority of the time" because he has had his struggles, particularly in weeks one and two to start the season. However, with his struggles behind him, Hackenberg looks to be back on track and have the Nittany Lions back on track.

Along with Hackenberg, the Buckeyes will also have to contend with a talented group of receivers who are led by Chris Godwin. Godwin, who is Hackenberg's number one target, has racked up 27 catches through the first six games of the season. Look for the Buckeyes to take him away as a viable option with Eli Apple. If that happens, it could drastically open things up for DaeSean Hamilton or tight end Mike Gesicki.

Defensively, the Nittany Lions could make life very, very difficult for the Buckeyes. They come into tonight's game with the 21st ranked defense in the country and sport the nation's top pass rusher in Carl Nassib. Nassib has racked up 10 sacks in only six games and has looked like a best on the Nittany Lions defensive line. At 14 points per game, Penn State has allowed the 11th fewest points per game in the nation. With the Buckeyes averaging 36 points per game, something is clearly going to have to give.

The Buckeyes made a few minor changes last week that significantly helped improve the overall performance of the offense. Of course, by "minor" I really mean enormous, as the Buckeyes went with a true two quarterback system. Cardale Jones handled the majority of the snaps outside of the red zone before giving way to J.T. Barrett. Maryland really didn't have an answer for this arrangement as the Buckeyes put together their most solid performance since week one. Expect to see more of it and possibly even more of J.T. Barrett tonight.

Another "something" may not have anything to do with the scoreboard, however, because tonight's game will be unlike anything we have ever seen from the Buckeyes. That is because the Buckeyes won't actually look like the Buckeyes thanks to the meddling ways of Nike.

For the first time in their storied history, the Ohio State Buckeyes will wear black. No, not a little bit of black, either. We're talking black from head to to - black helmets, black jerseys, black pants. With the fans urged to dress all in black as well, tonight's game has been officially dubbed the Dark Night in the Shoe.

Yeah, i feel like they could have come up with a better name for it too, but what are you gonna do?

The much ballyhooed look has been rumored for quite some time now but had been continually squashed by people surrounding the program with nothing more than a "maybe" or "we'll see." Well, we'll see alright as the special one off uniforms will make their debut under the lights of Ohio Stadium for a nationally televised showcase game.

I won't do a full review of the uniforms just yet. That will come in time because I would prefer to see the final product on the field, under the lights, and in action. I will say this much, though. I'm conflicted. As something of a traditionalist with most things uniform related, the idea of abandoning scarlet and gray, if only for one game, annoys the hell out of me.

Nike's concept for the Buckeyes' "black for blacks sake" look

But, the mock up we've seen online is a sharp looking uniform. Whereas the 49ers made a drastic misstep with their new black alternates, the Buckeyes did not. The Buckeyes' version of the all black ensemble contains much more detail allowing for a much cleaner and crisper look. How it ultimately play to the crowd and on television, though remains to be seen. Until we see the final product in action, final judgement should be reserved.
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