Film Breakdown: Wisconsin Badgers vs Penn State Nittany Lions Football (Big 10 Title Game)

Much like my Clinic Talk previews for, I’m going to preview Wisconsin vs Penn State in the Big 10 Championship Game using film of a mutual opponent- Ohio State.


What does the PSU offense bring to the table? A 62nd ranked rushing offense and 51st ranked passing offense that scores 36.6 PPG (25th).

Below, you can see a nice dive option play (called inside zone by @KirkHerbstreit) where the QB reads the front side defensive end. If the DE sits or plays QB, he gives dive, if he squeezes dive, he pulls and attacks the DE’s outside hip/shoulder.

dive option gif.gif

A balanced Run/Pass attack like PSU has gives you the chance to successfully use play-action passing. Watch the ILB’s freeze and the safety play up in the GIF below. It leaves a 1on1 for the WR in the endzone.

pa psu gif.gif

Below, another play-action look, another deep ball. This time with 7 man protection and another 1on1.

pa pass psu gif.gif

Down inside the 5 you’ve got a flood pass-run option from the QB. If the flat defender stays on the h-back the QB will run, if the flat defender comes off to play the boot, the QB dumps to the h-back. We’ve talked about using H-Backs on IMFB before and both OSU and PSU use the h-back well.

flood pass run gif.gif

PSU and OSU mirror each other well on offense: use of H-Backs, 20 personnel, zone schemes, play-action, and mobile QB’s. On Defense they’re no dissimilar either.

In a 4-2-5 look, PSU uses pressure from the up-safety but he getse kicked out by the h-back the PSOT picks up one ILB  and the FB picks up the other to spring the speedy Samuel.

oz osu gif.gif

PSU falls victim to the blitz and biting on play-action again, and OSU finds an open pocket off the vert/corner.

pa vert corner GIF.gif

Both squads had a bad kicking game mishap, PSU with the snap on punt…

bad snap punt gif.gif

…and OSU with the blocked FG that cost them an undefeated season.

blocked fg gif.gif

Wisconsin played Ohio State close as well, but lost in OT instead of winning with 1 minute to go in regulation. Wisconsin’s offense scores 28.5 PPG (66th) and 44th in rushing and 106th in passing- so much less balanced than the Nittany Lions.

Wisconsin, like Michigan, kicks it old school using Tight Ends, Fullbacks, and H-Backs but can also spread you out in a “pro style” attack.

Wisconsin will line up in 31 personnel and pound the football. Here in the -5 you see a nice wham block from one FB and a lead block from the other spring the tailback.

31p wham.gif

Around the +25, the Badgers line up in trips open and take advantage of a bad 1-high safety play from OSU scoring on a deep ball.

3x1 trips open gif.gif

At the +5 you can see the Badgers go with Big 10 West football and line up in 32 personnel and run a FB lead dive. The H-B or other FB leads and Wisconsin gives for a nice zone lead type play. The tailback holds the DE with the toss fake.

32p fb dive.gif

On defense, OSU attacked Wisconsin through the air and Barrett threw for 3 TDs.

Like the deep ball below, OSU felt their athletes could out run and jump Wisky’s and the do. PSU also loves the deep ball.

deep ball from osu gif.gif

Take a look at this QB split-zone play with Barrett as the “running back” where he pounds it in from the 1. PSU could try the same with McSorley.

hback split zone w qb GIF.gif

We know PSU likes to mix it up and keep it interesting, the thing will be if their defense is better suited to take on this ground & pound offense and I’m not sure. While they pounded MSU, Pitt beat them with a running attack led by James Conner and they lost to Michigan’s more pro-style approach and just edged an average Gophers team that runs the rock as well.