Defense anyone?

Led by its vaunted defense, undefeated Ohio State is in a familiar position - at the top of both the AP Poll and BCS standings.

The top-ranked Buckeyes have not lost a regular-season game in more than two years, but will revisit the site of that defeat Saturday night when they visit 24th-ranked Penn State at Beaver Stadium.

Oddsmakers from have made Ohio State -4 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday's game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 62% of bets for this game have been placed on Ohio State -4 (View College Football bet percentages).

Ohio State (8-0, 4-0 Big Ten) maintained its position at the top of both the AP rankings and BCS standings after defeating Michigan State 24-17 last Saturday. The Buckeyes have been No. 1 in the BCS for 10 straight weeks after holding the top spot in all eight BCS polls last season and each of the first two of 2007.

They can claim their third consecutive Big Ten title and a spot in the BCS title game for the second straight season by closing out the regular season with four straight victories.

Ohio State has won a school-record 26 straight regular-season games since a 17-10 loss at Penn State on Oct. 8, 2005.

The Buckeyes avenged that defeat with a 28-6 win over the Nittany Lions last Sept. 23 in Ohio Stadium, but this will be their first trip to Happy Valley since losing there.

"Anytime you lose to a team, you want to redeem yourself. Penn State and Ohio State the last couple years have developed a little bit of a rivalry," Ohio State cornerback Malcolm Jenkins said. "This year, there's going to be a lot of hype around the game. It's going to be a very intense environment."

The Buckeyes will be the first No. 1 team to visit Beaver Stadium since top-ranked Notre Dame beat Penn State 34-23 in 1989. The Nittany Lions are 4-9 all-time against No. 1 ranked teams, including a 2-2 mark at home.

"Obviously, everyone says you have to remain the same, that it's just another team," Penn State cornerback Justin King said of playing a top-ranked team. "But of course, we'll approach it with more intensity, and be ready to play. You only get the No. 1 team so many times."

The Buckeyes have won four of their last five meetings against the Nittany Lions overall, but Penn State has won four of the last five matchups at home and is 5-2 all-time against Ohio State at Beaver Stadium.

The Nittany Lions have won all five of their home games this season, and 18 of 19 at Beaver Stadium since 2005.

The Buckeyes come to Happy Valley boasting the nation's stingiest defense, which is yielding 7.9 points and 208.5 yards per game and has given up just four touchdowns all season.

Last Saturday, they held the Spartans to nine first downs and 185 yards of total offense. Michigan State scored its only two touchdowns on returns.

Buckeyes quarterback Todd Boeckman was 15-for-23 for 193 yards and two touchdowns, but he also threw an interception that was returned 54 yards for a touchdown, and his fumble four plays later was returned 25 yards for another TD.

"It's disappointing when you're going along and your defense is pitching a shutout and you give up 14 points,'' Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said. "I'm not happy that those 14 points count against our defense, the way it looks.''

Despite the two-turnover game, Boeckman leads the Big 10 in passing efficiency (161.3).

Sophomore running back Chris Wells rushed for a career-high 221 yards on 31 carries last Saturday, and scored his seventh touchdown of the season on a 5-yard run. The entire Spartans team, meanwhile, gained 59 rushing yards on 28 attempts.

Penn State (6-2, 3-2) is second in the conference against the run, allowing an average of 79.8 yards on the ground. In last Saturday's 36-31 win at Indiana, the Nittany Lions held the Hoosiers to 17 yards rushing in the first 57 minutes.

Penn State has won three straight games to once again crack the Top 25. Joe Paterno's club peaked at No. 10 a month ago before falling out of the rankings after back-to-back road losses to Michigan and Illinois.

"I think if you're going to be a good football team you've got to beat teams with winning records," Paterno said after the Indiana victory. "You can't just beat teams with four or five losses. I think we're getting a little better."

Penn State gained 192 rushing yards last Saturday, and is averaging 223.0 yards on the ground during its winning streak.

Quarterback Anthony Morelli finished 22-for-32 for 195 yards with two touchdowns and an interception against Indiana. Morelli struggled in last year's loss to Ohio State, though, going 16-for-25 for 106 yards and three interceptions.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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