Most important game: Penn State

June, 11, 2012
6/11/12
9:00
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It's time to resume our series looking at the most important game on the 2012 schedule for each Big Ten squad. As a reminder, these are games that will have the biggest impact on the league race or hold special meaning for one of the teams involved.

If you've missed the previous capsules, check 'em out here.

We're in the home stretch, and let's take a look at the Penn State Nittany Lions under first-year coach Bill O'Brien.

Most important game: Oct. 27 vs. Ohio State

Why it's important: It's a tough call between Penn State's marquee home games against Ohio State and Wisconsin (Nov. 24), but I'm going with the Buckeyes showdown for several reasons. Ohio State likely will be the first ranked team Penn State faces in 2012. The Lions could have a strong start to the season, but they conclude with five of six Leaders division games, including the home clashes with Ohio State and Wisconsin. A win against the Buckeyes under the lights at Beaver Stadium could put Penn State right in the mix for the division title. It would provide a major boost for O'Brien and his players to record a marquee win in front of the home faithful in what should be an electric atmosphere. Although Wisconsin is the defending division champ, Penn State looks at Ohio State as a bigger rival. Urban Meyer's recruit-flipping this past winter has only added flavor, and Penn State likely will see several of its one-time commits on the field that night. Both Penn State and Ohio State will be more adjusted under their new coaches by Oct. 27. The matchup features what should be two of the Big Ten's best defenses and two offenses going through radical transformations. A Penn State win could set up an exciting month of November, while a loss might knock the Lions out of the division race.

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