One of the biggest Big Ten games of the year comes early this season as national title contender Ohio State heads to Happy Valley to take on Big Ten East foe Penn State in State College. The No. 3 Buckeyes enter the game as a 12.5-point favorite over the No. 18 Nittany Lions with the game total set at 62.5 on SportsBetting.com.
Date: Saturday, Oct. 31 – 7:30 PM ET
Odds: Ohio State -12.5
Ohio State Buckeyes
The Buckeyes entered the season with national title hopes and as the heavy favorite to win the Big Ten, and they certainly looked the part in their 52-17 win over Nebraska to start the season.
On offense, returning Heisman Trophy finalist Justin Fields picked up right where he left off with a nearly-perfect performance, going 20-for-21 passing for 276 yards and two touchdowns through the air while adding 54 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Ohio State overwhelmed Nebraska through the air with two receivers topping 100 yards, and eventually got the ground game working as well with six different ball-carriers combining for 215 yards rushing on the day.
The Buckeyes’ biggest questions heading into the season were on the defensive side of the ball where they had to replace seven starters from one of the top defenses in the country. That inexperience showed on Nebraska’s opening drive as the Cornhuskers went 75 yards for a touchdown on just four plays, but Ohio State bounced back immediately, allowing just 10 points and 5.5 yards per play the rest of the game.
Where there was rust, Ohio State shook it off quickly and looked like one of college football’s most talented teams right out of the gates in the season opener and the Buckeyes will look to carry that momentum into this week’s showdown with Penn State.
Penn State Nittany Lions
Things did not go according to plan for Penn State last weekend as the Nittany Lions, widely considered the second-best team in the Big Ten before the season, suffered an overtime loss on the road against Indiana to open the season.
Despite the final score, however, there’s still reason for optimism for Penn State going forward as the Nittany Lions largely controlled the game and looked like the better and more talented team, outgaining Indiana 488 to 211 and dominating the game’s time of possession. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t still plenty of reason for concern for the Nittany Lions going forward.
Penn State entered the season with one of the deepest running back rooms in the country, but after losing starter Journey Brown to an undisclosed medical condition just before the season and No. 2 back Noah Cain to a season-ending leg injury on the first series against Indiana, the Nittany Lions suddenly find themselves with third-string running back Devyn Ford as the primary ball-carrier. With those losses, Penn State struggled to move the ball on the ground, averaging just 3.74 yards per carry among the running backs on the day. To make matters worse, quarterback Sean Clifford was inconsistent in the passing game, throwing two bad interceptions that helped keep Indiana in the game.
Defensively, the Nittany Lions were stout, shutting down the Indiana running attack to allow just 1.6 yards per carry. The Hoosiers were forced to do most of their damage with their passing attack, but even the Penn State pass defense was strong, allowing just 170 yards and a touchdown through the air while forcing an interception.
Penn State looked like a dominant team for much of the season opener, but some bad turnovers and costly miscues cost them the game – something that absolutely cannot happen if there’s any hope of pulling the upset against Ohio State.
Over the past few years, Penn State has seemed to trouble the Buckeyes more than any other Big Ten opponent with three of the last four contests decided by three or fewer points with the Nittany Lions getting the win in one of them. Still, Ohio State is decidedly the better team in this matchup and seems to be clicking on all cylinders already while Penn State clearly has some kinks it needs to work out.
On top of that, the famous white out crowd in Beaver Stadium will not be a factor this season following the Big Ten’s decision not to allow fans in the stands this year, neutralizing Penn State’s notorious home-field advantage.
Expect the Buckeyes to roll in this one behind a high powered passing attack. Ohio State will put up points at a rate the Nittany Lions simply can’t match.
Pick: Ohio State -12.5