In a battle of the “State" schools, Ohio State appears to be trending closer to the College Football Playoff, whereas Penn State essentially ended any remaining shot they had left last week.
Last week, the Penn State Nittany Lions lost 20-18 to Illinois in overtime.
Yes, in overtime.
Over the last four games, the Buckeyes have been rolling, averaging over 60 points per game. Sure, the competition was less than stellar overall, going up against Indiana, Maryland, Rutgers, and Akron, but we’ve finally been able to see what this Buckeyes offense can do.
Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud started the season off a bit slow with five turnover-worthy plays, according to Pro Football Focus. Since then, Stroud has not put a single ball in harm’s way and has 14 touchdowns to no interceptions.
The Nittany Lions weren’t exactly known for offense this season, ranking in the middle of the pact in the Big Ten, per PFF. However, the strength with the Nittany Lions lies in their defense, their secondary and coverage unit, to be more specific.
That’s going to be the matchup to look for. How does this Nittany Lions coverage unit hold up against wide receivers Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and tight end Jeremy Ruckert?
Well, the oddsmakers don’t see it turning out too well.
For in-depth analysis of this CFB bet of the day and others, continue reading.
Sportsbook Play of the Day
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Penn State vs. Ohio State Prediction
The Penn State secondary has been excellent this season, led by safety Jaquan Brisker and cornerback Joey Porter Jr.
However, those are only two guys. Porter Jr. can only take on one of Wilson, Olave, or Smith-Njigba. Brisker should be able to help, but he may also be tasked with keeping Ruckert in check.
No matter what, the Buckeyes have too many weapons, regardless of how stout the top-end players on defense are.
The Buckeyes are going to continue to light up the scoreboard. Penn State will be able to score some points, sure. Nittany Lions quarterback Sean Clifford will have to throw a bit more than he’s used to, and the running game, while solid, is not exactly Saquon Barkley coming back to school.
The strength in the Buckeyes defense lies in their pass rush, led by edge rushers Zach Harrison and Tyreke Smith, who have a combined 17 quarterback hurries and eight hits.
In the end, the Nittany Lions will get behind early, and Clifford will have a bad time having to throw to stay in the game.
The No. 5 team in the country takes out the No. 20 team in the country by multiple scores this week.
Betting Pick: Ohio State 45, Penn State 20
Penn State vs. Ohio State Best Bets
Best Bet: Ohio State -18.5 (-110) at Caesars
Porter Jr. is an excellent player, but he can only do so much. With four legitimate receiving threats, including two who are likely first-round players in the next NFL Draft, and a running game led by TreVeyon Henderson, who has 11 rushing touchdowns this season, there’s just too much to overcome.
No matter what Penn State gameplans for, there are going to be holes somewhere in the defense. The way Stroud is playing, he’s looking unstoppable.
The only way Penn State has a shot at keeping this one close is if they can get Stroud playing regressive football and running the ball to run the clock out.
The problem, though, is that Ohio State will just score constantly and Penn State will not be able to do that.
I’d even take Ohio State -20.
Best Bet: Ohio State Moneyline (-1000) at Caesars
Was I burned a few weeks back taking Alabama -17 against Texas A&M on a 4-game parlay where I could have cashed out before the game for $1,300? Yes. In fact, Alabama lost outright!
Could that happen again this week, and Penn State wins outright? I mean it’s possible, but the chances are extremely low.
Even if Ohio State is somehow unable to cover, they’re going to win. I’d bet the farm on that.
Best Bet: Over 60 (-110) at Caesars
There’s a bit of extra juice on this play, and rightfully so. The competition in the last four weeks has been weak for Ohio State, but they’ve topped this over/under on their own with the average score.
Penn State may not have the offense to keep up with the Buckeyes, but it’s a respectable enough offense that will score against a relatively leaky defense that the Buckeyes do deploy.
Considering that Penn State might be able to thwart a few drives and that they should score a few times, I’m sending this total way over with my 45-20 prediction.