Free College Football Picks: Ohio State at Penn State Odds and Expert Predictions
Ohio State Buckeyes at Penn State Nittany Lions, Saturday Sept. 29, 7:30 p.m. ET
For the last two years, much to my chagrin as a Michigan fan, this matchup has essentially been a conference semifinal game as the winner has gone to and won the conference championship game. And while there is a whole lot of football left to play, there is at least a decent chance that the same thing could happen again this year. So, needless to say, the game couldn't be bigger. The games haven't exactly been blowouts, either - Ohio State won by a single point last year and lost by a field goal two years ago when it was last in Happy Valley. The chances of this being an entertaining game are extremely high.
Ohio State at Penn State Betting Storylines
Dwayne Haskins has been truly spectacular in his first four games as Ohio State's quarterback, throwing 16 touchdowns and just one pick while completing more than a quarter of his passes. He would be running away with early Heisman speculation if Alabama didn't have a young freak of their own - one perhaps even freakier. Notably, Haskins was unfazed by facing what was supposed to be a strong TCU defense, so this Penn State defense, which has yet to find top gear, won't intimidate him either. He will have some help, too, as Mike Weber, the running back who was injured last time out, is reportedly healthy and ready to contribute. He almost single-handedly won the opener.
The news is not all good for Ohio State on the injury front, though. Nick Bosa, a future NFL superstar on the defensive line, was injured last game and has had abdominal surgery that will likely keep him out at least into November. The team has depth up front, but missing a guy like that is always going to be a concern.
The biggest problem with Penn State right now is that despite watching them for a month, we have no idea who they are. They went to overtime against Big Ten killer Appalachian State in the opener and then have beaten up on weightless weaklings since. The offense has been strong, but against nothing. And the defense was fine after the App State game, where it left something to be desired. Is this team any good right now? Who knows. They have the highest-scoring offense in FBS right now, averaging 55.5 points per game - just one more than Ohio State - but Trace McSorley has only completed 53.8 percent of his passes, and the offense doesn't feel clutch despite the productivity. We are forced to speculate about just what this team is. I hate that.
Penn State hasn't suffered a loss to the magnitude of Bosa (has any team in the country, really?), but they still have an injury of note. Senior running back Mark Allen isn't a high-volume guy, but he is dangerous near the goal line, and with him now lost for the season the depth of the running game could be a bit of a concern. Last year Ohio State outgained Penn State more than 2-to-1 on the ground, and that was with Saquon Barkley, so it makes sense to expect more of the same this year.
Ohio State at Penn State Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened widely with Ohio State favored by 3.5 on the road, with four points also available in some spots . Nearly two-thirds of bets have been on Ohio State, yet it still sits at four points, so the lack of movement would suggest that sharp money is tilted towards Penn State to some extent. The total opened at 66.5 and has climbed all the way to 72 in early action.
The Buckeyes are 5-1 ATS in their last six games overall and an eye-opening 37-16 ATS in their last 53 games played on grass. They are an even more impressive 36-16-1 ATS in their last 53 road games against teams with winning home records. The Nittany Lions have covered their last six spreads at home against teams with winning road records. They are 14-2-1 ATS in their last 17 games following an ATS win.
Ohio State at Penn State Predictions and Picks
I am all in on Ohio State in this one. I don't love giving up more than a field goal on the road in an absolutely brutal place to play, but it feels like this could be a game in which the Nittany Lions are exposed. The defense is really going to be tested by a strong quarterback and a potent attack, and even without Bosa this defense can challenge McSorley and company. It says here that Penn State is overrated - not dramatically, but to a real degree - and it will be proven here. The Buckeyes are the play.
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