The best individual matchup in the Big Ten -- and maybe the nation -- this week will be Penn State junior wide receiver Allen Robinson going against Ohio State junior cornerback Bradley Roby.
Roby (5-foot-11, 192 pounds) was considered the nation's best cornerback heading into the season. While he still is considered a top prospect, he has fallen on most draft boards -- he no longer is considered the unquestioned No. 1 corner -- and Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer told reporters this week that "he's not playing at the same level he did a year ago."
Roby was suspended for the opener after he was involved in an incident at an Indiana bar in the offseason. He is fourth on the team with 32 tackles and has two interceptions, six pass breakups and a blocked punt, but has been inconsistent.
"At times he plays fantastic, but when there's a mistake at the corner position, it's glaring," Meyer said.
Wisconsin wide receiver Jared Abbrederis schooled (or is the better word embarrassed?) Roby in the Buckeyes' narrow win over the Badgers, and Roby also struggled a week later in a win over Northwestern. He was ejected in the first quarter in last week's win over Iowa for targeting, and needs to make an impact this week against Robinson.
Robinson (6-3, 210) has climbed draft boards this fall with consistently high-level performances. He has 43 receptions for 705 yards (16.4 yards per catch) and five touchdowns. He is the focal point of the Nittany Lions' passing attack and has put up those numbers despite there not being a legit No. 2 receiver on the roster. Robinson has 32 percent of Penn State's receptions and 41 percent of the Nittany Lions' receiving yards.
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He has reached the 100-yard mark in four of Penn State's six games and caught at least seven passes in four games and at least five passes in five contests. He didn't reach 100 yards in an upset of Michigan, Penn State's most recent game, but he did make two highlight-reel catches on the Nittany Lions' game-tying drive in the final minutes.
Robinson had five receptions for 68 yards and no TDs in last season's loss to the Buckeyes.
If Penn State wants to keep it close, it needs a big game from freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg and Robinson. Ohio State's offense should have its way with Penn State's defense, so the Nittany Lions' offense needs to be prepared for a shootout. Penn State is 0-9 against top-five teams since 1999.
"Roby is definitely one of the better cornerbacks in our league, so it's definitely going to be a challenge," Robinson told reporters this week. "But as a receiver, you kind of get excited to play."