COLUMBUS, Ohio – For Ohio State, Big Ten season opens with a bang this weekend. The Buckeyes meet Penn State on Saturday at 3 p.m. inside Ohio Stadium in a game that can be seen nationally on ESPNU. Chris Cotter (play by play) and Paul Carcaterra (analyst) will be on the call.
ABOUT THE BUCKEYES
– Ohio State closed out the non-conference portion of its regular season schedule last Sunday with a 9-8 setback against No. 6 Notre Dame. The Buckeyes fell to 5-4 on the year.
– The close defensive unit of Matt Borges, Erik Evans and Ben Randall have started 30 consecutive games since the start of the 2017 season and form the nucleus of a unit that ranks No. 9 nationally in scoring defense (8.44 goals/game).
– Ohio State has given up eight or less goals in five of nine games thus far.
– Borges, Evans and Randall have combined to scoop up 59 ground balls while causing 25 turnovers.
– In the defensive midfield, Ryan Terefenko, Freddy Freibott and Logan Maccani all have at least 18 ground balls.
– Sophomore Tre Leclaire, a Tewaaraton Award Watch List member, leads the offense in every major statistical category: goals (16), assists (10), points (26) and shots (58).
– Three of Leclaire’s teammates on offense have hit double figures in goals scored this season: Jackson Reid (11), John Kelly (10) and Jack Jasinski (10).
– In the face-off X, sophomore Christian Feliziani and freshman Justin Inacio continue to split up the duties. Both rank in the top 10 in conference in win percentage (Feliziani: .587; Inacio: .510).
– Goalie Josh Kirson made his first career start on Sunday and responded by making 13 saves against the Irish, including four in the fourth quarter to help the Buckeyes stay within striking distance.
– The Buckeyes are receiving votes in both the USILA/Nike Lacrosse Coaches Poll and Inside Lacrosse/Maverik Media Poll.
ABOUT THE NITTANY LIONS
– Penn State enters Big Ten play with consecutive wins over Fairfield and Cleveland State to improve its record to 6-3.
– The Nittany Lions bring in the nation’s No. 4-ranked scoring offense, averaging 13.44 goals per game.
– Four players have surpassed the 20-point mark thus far for Penn State, led by Mac O’Keefe, 23G, 8A, 31 points) and Nick Spillane (13G, 18A).
– Gerard Arceri leads the Big Ten and is No. 3 nationally in face-off win percentage (.704). He also averages 12.44 ground balls per game, good for No. 2 in the country.
– Goalie Colby Kneese’s 9.33 saves per game and .549 save percentage currently ranks No. 2 and No. 1 in the Big Ten, respectively.
HISTORY WITH THE NITTANY LIONS
– Saturday’s marks the 22nd all-time meeting between Ohio State and Penn State. PSU leads the series, 15-6.
– Since 2007, Ohio State leads the series with Penn State, 6-5.
– Ohio State’s last victory over the Nittany Lions was in 2015, a 10-8 triumph in State College. The Buckeyes’ last win over Penn State in Columbus was an 11-10 overtime victory in 2010.
– Four of the last eight games have been decided by one goal.
THE CREATOR’S TROPHY
– The game Saturday is part of the competition for the Creator’s Trophy, an annual traveling award among the first three Big Ten member schools that sponsored men’s lacrosse (Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan) that was established in 2012. The trophy is awarded when a team is 2-0 against the other schools; on years the teams are all 1-1, the trophy is not awarded.
– The Buckeyes won the Creator’s Trophy in 2013 and `15, while Penn State claimed the inaugural title and the 2014, ’16 and `17 trophies.
B1G PLAY IS HERE
– This marks the fourth year of men’s lacrosse as a Big Ten sponsored sport. Each of the six teams play a five-game conference schedule, with the top four in the final standings earning a spot in the Big Ten Tournament. The tournament winner earns the league’s automatic berth into the NCAA tourney.
– The Buckeyes have a winning conference record in two of the last three years and have beaten every team in the league at least once.
– Three of the Buckeyes’ five Big Ten games will be in Ohio Stadium, as the squad hosts Penn State, Michigan and Rutgers. The conference road games are at Johns Hopkins and Maryland.
– All six Big Ten schools are either ranked or receiving votes in the USILA Coaches Poll and Inside Lacrosse Media Poll.
– The conference has sent at least one team to the Final Four in each of the last three seasons and had multiple squads there in 2015 and 2017.
– A crowd of 3,218 at Ohio Stadium saw last Sunday’s contest against Notre Dame, the largest non-Spring Game attendance in history at The `Shoe. The previous high was 3,106 – also against Notre Dame – in March of 2016.
– Through two games at The `Shoe this season, the Buckeyes are averaging 2,271 fans per game, an increase of nearly 500 from its average in six games Ohio Stadium games last season.
THIS AND THAT
– Freddy Freibott picked up four ground balls in last week’s game versus Notre Dame, giving him 100 in his career. He also has 86 over the last 30 games (2.86/game).
– Ohio State assistant coach Travis Crane was a captain for the Nittany Lions in 2013.
– Freibott and Borges are currently tied for the team lead with 28 ground balls through nine games. Borges has 18 in the last five contests.
– The Buckeyes’ five remaining opponents have a combined record of 33-10.
– Freshman JT Bugliosi has scored multiple goals in each of the last two games.
– John Kelly is on a five-game point scoring streak, culminating last Sunday with a one-goal, two assist performance against Notre Dame.
– Tre Leclaire‘s five points last Sunday against Notre Dame was a season high. He seven multi point games this year and 22 in his 30-game career.
– Leclaire is nine points shy of 100 in his career with 65 goals and 26 assists. He’s also on pace to be the second fastest Buckeye to ever reach the 100-point mark.
– Five of Ohio State’s last six games have been decided by one goal, including three that were decided in overtime.
– Including a 9-7 win over Hofstra on Feb. 17, six of the last seven games have been decided by two or less goals.