UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
Defensive end Carl Nassib's motor never stops.
He's the type of player every coach dreams of mentoring. When Nassib practices, it's like every rep is being contested in the Super Bowl. That mindset translates into the games, and he refuses to be blocked by anyone.
Simply put, the 6-foot-7, 272-pound defensive end has been lights out in 2015. The nation's leader in sacks, Nassib has 10.0 sacks and 12.0 tackles for loss in Penn State's first six games.
"I think that work ethic and that mentality and that drive, along with some of the physical skills and traits that he has, has created a really nice - you know, really nice complement of skills that's allowed him to be successful, so I don't know if there has been an Ah-ha moment, but I know when we created last year's tape, he didn't have as many 'splash' plays as he has had this year, but he played at probably a higher level than we realized," said head coach James Franklin.
An area being a bit overlooked in Nassib's stellar first half of the season is his ability to force fumbles. The former walk-on is leading the nation with five forced fumbles in six games. Nassib has an uncanny ability to jar the ball free when he has his hands on a quarterback or ball carrier. He is directly responsible for more than 40 percent of Penn State's forced turnovers this season.
Nassib's five forced fumbles are the most by a Penn State player since defensive end Maurice Evans had five in 2007. Michael Haynes owns the record with seven forced fumbles in 2002.
Meeting the No. 1 Team
Saturday will mark the 16th time in Penn State football's history that the Nittany Lions will collide with the No. 1 team in the nation. It will also be the first time Penn State has played the No. 1 team since traveling to Alabama in 2010. Of the 16 meetings, this will be the fourth time the Lions have played against Ohio State when it was ranked No. 1. The team's history stretches back to a 1937 meeting at Pittsburgh. Penn State has four wins against the No. 1 team in the nation, including the 1983 Sugar Bowl (Georgia) and the 1987 Fiesta Bowl (Miami). The most recent win over a No. 1 team came in 1990 when the Lions knocked off Notre Dame, 24-21 in Beaver Stadium.
Five-Game Winning Streak
The Nittany Lions improved to 5-0 inside Beaver Stadium with the victory over Indiana, marking the first time since the 2008 season with five-straight wins to open the home slate. It is only the fourth time since 2000 that the Nittany Lions won five-straight at home. The Lions went 7-0 at home in 2008 en route to winning the Big Ten and playing in the Rose Bowl.
Additionally, Penn State has now won five consecutive games for the 11th season since joining the Big Ten Conference in 1993. The Lions have tallied six-straight wins during six different seasons during that span, with the most recent coming in 2011.
Early Look at Ohio State
The defending national champion Ohio State Buckeyes (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten) remain unbeaten in 2015 following a 49-28 victory over Maryland on Saturday. The top rated offense in the conference enters the week averaging 36.8 points and 460.0 yards per contest. The Buckeyes are 2-0 in conference play following a road victory at Indiana (34-27) and the triumph over Maryland. Ohio State also knocked off Virginia Tech (42-24), Hawaii (38-0), Northern Illinois (20-13) and Western Michigan (38-12).
Running back Ezekiel Elliott enters the game as the nation's fourth-highest rusher with 835 yards through six games. Elliott has scored 10 touchdowns in 2015. Senior Cardale Jones and sophomore J.T Barrett have split time at quarterback, with Jones starting each of Ohio State's six games. Jones has thrown for 1,158 yards and seven touchdowns. Michael Thomas is Ohio State's leading receiver with 27 receptions for 399 yards and four touchdowns.
Defensively, the Buckeyes have limited their opponents to 17.3 points and 300.2 yards per contest. Linebackers Raekwon McMillan and Joshua Perry lead the team in tackling with 62 and 52 stops, respectively.
Extended Game Highlight
Watch extended game highlights from the victory over Indiana on Saturday.
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