Penn State Nittany Lions at Ohio State Buckeyes Expert Picks and Betting Predictions
Penn State Nittany Lions at Ohio State Buckeyes, Saturday Oct. 28, 3:30 p.m. ET
For the second year in a row the Big Ten East title will likely go to the winner of this game. Last year that was Penn State, and Ohio State will be hungry for revenge. The Buckeyes have looked like a team possessed since their Week 2 loss against Oklahoma. But then they haven't played a team with a pulse since then, either, so that proves nothing. Have the last five games allowed them to move past their issues and grow as a team? Or have they just hidden the issues that Oklahoma exploited and Penn State would be capable of as well? Penn State has been even less tested than Ohio State. Their only ranked opponent was Michigan last week, and thanks to the Wolverine's total offensive ineptitude that game was hardly a challenge. So, with massive stakes on the line both of these teams are facing massive challenges, and bettors are left to guess which squad is more ready for it. It's games like this that make college football so much fun.
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Penn State at Ohio State Betting Storylines
Penn State hadn't played anyone of note until Michigan as we said. Their best prior opponent was Iowa, and they narrowly escaped them. The Michigan win was very impressive, though, scoring 42 points against what was the country's top defense entering the game and amassing more yards in the first half than any team had managed in a full game against the Wolverines. Saquon Barkley was a total beast, and Trace McSorley showed just how dangerous he can be as a true dual-threat quarterback. McSorley is a much better quarterback than he was for this game last year, and in that one he still led an impressive winning drive. If Penn State can play like they did against Michigan then there isn't a team out there that is beating them. So, we have to play amateur psychologist here. Will Penn State have enhanced confidence from that performance? Or will they have been so busy believing the headlines and enjoying the revenge they got over Michigan that they won't be ready for this one?
While Penn State was putting on a clinic, Ohio State was sitting on their couches enjoying a bye week. So again we have to be psychologists. Will the extra week have given them more time to be ready to deal with Barkley and McSorley? Or will they be rusty after the absence? Urban Meyer is not a big fan of bye weeks - so much so that he spent some of his time off arguing against the proposed move to a 14-week schedule with two bye weeks.
What will be a new test for Penn State this year is that Ohio State can pass effectively. They haven't faced a strong passing team yet, and Michigan's passing struggles made the defensive task easier. Last time out against Nebraska, J.T. Barrett was about as strong through the air as a guy can be. He completed an impressive 27 of 33 passes for 325 yards and five touchdowns. We don't know how well the Nittany Lions secondary can handle an attack like that because they haven't seen one. Of course, we also don't know if Barrett, who hasn't been the most reliable player in the world through his career, can come close to that level of sharpness coming off a bye week.
Penn State at Ohio State Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with Ohio State favored by 6.5, and it has stayed at that level through early action. Almost two-thirds of bets have been on the Nittany Lions, so if the line were to move to the key number of seven it would be a clear sign of strong sharp money action on Ohio State. The total opened at 56.5 and has since fallen to 54.5.
Penn State is 11-1-1 ATS in their last 13 conference games. They are 5-1 ATS in their last six road games and 15-4-2 ATS in their last 21 games overall. The Buckeyes have covered the spread in their last four conference games, but they are just 1-4 ATS in their last five home games and have the same record in their last five against teams with winning records.
Penn State at Ohio State Predictions and Picks
This feels like the kind of matchup in which I would take the underdog regardless of which team it was. This is a tight matchup. I give a small edge to Penn State, but the margin is narrow - especially given the location of the game. Taking Penn State and the extra six or 6.5 points will be much more comfortable. The Nittany Lions are the pick.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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