Penn State Faces Ohio State in Final Road Dual of the Season

By Rob Dougherty on February 19, 2021 at 1:14 pm
Sammy Sasso will look to lead Ohio State to an upset over Penn State.
Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen, Iowa City Press-Citizen via Imagn Content Services, LLC

No. 3 Penn State (4-0, 4-0 B1G) will travel to No. 11 Ohio State (5-3, 5-3 B1G) to wrestle the Buckeyes on Friday night. The dual will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network at 7 p.m. EST. Here are the projected matchups: 

Projected Matchups
Weight Penn State Ohio State
125 Robert Howard (1-0) No. 10 Malik Heinselman (6-1)
133 No. 3 Roman Bravo-Young (4-0) Jordan Decatur (6-3)
141 No. 2 Nick Lee (4-0) Dylan D'Emilio (4-3) or Anthony Echemendia (4-1)
149 No. 20 Terrell Barraclough (2-2), Beau Bartlett (5-0) or Luke Gardner (3-1)  No. 2 Sammy Sasso (8-0)
157 No. 8 Brady Berge (4-0) Elijah Cleary (4-5)
165 No. 14 Joe Lee (3-1) No. 10 Ethan Smith (7-1)
174 No. 5 Carter Starroci (4-1) No. 3 Kaleb Romero (5-1)
184 No. 2 Aaron Brooks (4-0) No. 20 Rocky Jordan (4-4)
197 No. 16 Michael Beard (1-1) Gavin Hoffman (4-4)
285 No. 8 Seth Nevils (3-1) No. 16 Tate Orndorff (4-4)

This dual should start off with a very important match for the Buckeyes if they want to be competitive. Simply put, Robert Howard vs. No. 10 Malik Heinselman is a must win for Ohio State. Howard showed great promise in his win over Jack Medley at Michigan, but Heinselman has been a breakout performer for Ohio State and even earned himself a scholarship. This one could have fireworks, expect another tight match for Howard. 

No. 3 Roman Bravo-Young will take on Jordan Decatur. Bravo-Young beat Decatur 10-4 in the dual last season. At 141 pounds, No. 2 Nick Lee will take on either Dylan D'Emilio or Anthony Echemendia. D'Emilio has been the more consistent option for Ohio State despite the hype surrounding Echemendia coming into this season. 

I added Beau Bartlett as a potential starter at 149 pounds due to him wrestling up at 149 pounds in an extra match at Michigan on Sunday. Bartlett is 5-0, and offers the most long term upside to the PSU lineup, but will it be the right time to throw him in against an NCAA title contender in Sammy Sasso? That remains to be seen.

If Bartlett doesn't go, I would expect Terrell Barraclough to wrestle. Even though he hasn't been able to get much offense going in neutral, he's got a tough ride and he's defended well against strong competition in Yahya Thomas and Kanen Storr. 

Another key bout for the Buckeyes in this dual will be at 165 pounds, where No. 10 Ethan Smith will face No. 14 Joe Lee. Smith is 7-1 this season with his only loss coming to No. 8 Danny Brunagel (Illinois). Lee is coming off his first loss of the season in a tight match to Cameron Amine. This is a big opportunity for Lee to get a ranked win before the Big Ten Tournament. 

At 174 pounds, No. 5 Carter Starocci vs. No. 3 Kaleb Romero is the only top five matchup in this dual. Romero was an NCAA qualifier in 2020, and has had a strong season this year. Starocci has shown he is already one of the more dangerous wrestlers on top at the 174 pound weight class. This will be a tight one, but if Starocci can get some more offense going in neutral I think he has just enough to pull this one out. 

No. 2 Aaron Brooks will face No. 20 Rocky Jordan. Brooks will be the hands down favorite to pull this one out. 

No. 16 Michael Beard and Gavin Hoffman will be squaring off at 197 pounds. The last time these two wrestled was at a FloWrestling Who's Number One event, and Hoffman came out of that match the winner. Beard is the favorite, but this one could end up being a close contest. 

No. 8 Seth Nevills and No. 12 Tate Orndorff will close it at heavyweight. This is going to be a match of some big dudes wrestling hard. I think Nevills has the slight edge because he's typically been very good against the non-elite heavyweights. 

Prediction - Penn State 25, Ohio State 9

This dual should favor the Nittany Lions and I expect them to come out on top. The Buckeyes are in a period of transition and sport a very young lineup, and their opportunities to win are limited as a result. You can make an argument for Penn State to win nine of the ten matches, and I'm not going to pick that, but if Heinselman loses the opener for Ohio State it is going to be a long night for the Buckeyes. 

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