With OSU next, real Lions must stand up

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Bring on Ohio State. Game of the year.

Do you think Penn State is ready?

The answer is a resounding no — if it’s the Nittany Lion team that looked uninspired and got run over defensively by woeful Illinois for the first two quarters and five minutes of the third quarter Friday night, trailing, 24-21.

If that PSU team shows up next Saturday against the Buckeyes, the Lions are going to get pounded.

That Lion defense won’t have much of a prayer to slow down the potent offense led by quarterback Dwayne Haskins.

But there obviously was another side to Friday night’s game. Penn State obliterated the Illini over the final 25 minutes, scoring 42 unanswered points for a 63-24 trouncing.

The Lions have a terrific offensive system and excellent skill people to run it, allowing them to put up a bunch of points in a hurry. Against anybody (well, maybe not Alabama, but anybody else).

Watching the lethargic effort against Illinois, even down 24-21, you just had to know how the rest of the game would play out. If you didn’t, then you haven’t watched much Penn State football the past couple of years.

The Lions have toyed with teams, letting them do some good things and hang around, then bludgeoning them with big scoring outbursts.

The problem with that type of tendency is that, sooner or later, you’re going to run into an opponent that is simply too good and will not let you run off touchdown after touchdown when it matters most.

Ohio State, we think, is that type of team.

If Penn State is going to beat the Buckeyes, with this defense, it cannot just coast through the first half trying to size up what the opposition is trying to do.

The Lions have to come out guns a-blazing ready for a shootout, because that’s the only way they’re going to beat Ohio State.

The Buckeyes have so many weapons, a great offensive line, excellent running backs and a pocket passer in Haskins that they could destroy Penn State’s defense.

Face it, that’s what most of you PSU fans were thinking while watching Illinois run over and around the Lions on Friday.

But as you watched the end of the game, and saw Trace McSorley, Miles Sanders and others pummel Illinois’ defense, you probably started thinking, OK, Penn State can beat Ohio State with this offense.

Maybe it can, maybe it can’t.

The Lions have matched up well with the Buckeyes the past few years, and the game being at Beaver Stadium at night certainly will help.

It should be a lot of fun.

Or, if Penn State sleepwalks through another first half, the game could get so far out of hand that there won’t be any chance for a comeback.

Four quarters. That’s what it’s going to take.

Penn State has yet to put together four strong quarters all season, but doing so must be the central focus for coach James Franklin and the players this week.

Cory Giger is the host of “Sports Central” weekdays from 4 to 6 p.m. on ESPN Radio 1430 WVAM.