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Penn State Hosts Ohio State in Big 10 Battle
Defense figures to Play Key Role
Before the season started everyone had this game circled on the schedule as
the game that would decide the Big 10 champion. Unfortunately for both teams
things havenít gone according to plan this year. For the 2nd straight year Penn
State went into their game against Iowa undefeated with BCS National Title hopes
and for the 2nd straight year Penn State had their BCS bubble popped by the
Hawkeyes. Since that game it seems as though this Nittany Lion team has really
committed to turning things around offensively, and that is exactly what they
While their hopes for a National Title are gone, they still have an opportunity to have a very success year, and still even have a chance to make it to a BCS game, but for that to happen this game against Ohio State is a must win. Ohio State much like Penn State came into the season with BCS Title hopes, and just like Penn State they were upset by a Big 10 opponent in Purdue. They also have a chance at a BCS bowl game if they win out, so both Penn State and Ohio State are going to be give it their all this Saturday which should make for a great game in Happy Valley.
The Penn State defense is #1 in most all defensive statistics for the Big 10. The Nittany Lionís are only allowing 255 yards per game and their opponents only put up 9 points a game. This defense is very strong, and they are going to give Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor fits all night long. Pryor has been having problems finding his identity in this pro style offense, and has been having trouble when he is pressured this year. We expect Penn Stateís defense to be committed to making Pryor night as difficult as possible with blitzes and showing him different looks.
If Ohio State is going to get the victory in this game Pryor has got to live up to his potential. Even in the Buckeyes 45-0 rout of New Mexico State Pryor still only went 11/23 for 135 yards and 1 TD. If that is all the production they get from their star QB the Buckeyes will be in trouble. Pryor has to do what he does best and that is when the play breaks down use his legs to make something out of nothing.
It seems like he is too preoccupied with proving his critics wrong that he isnít running it as much as he needs to. If Coach Jim Tressel lets his QB play his type of game then he will be able to put up some points, but if Pryor hesitates to tuck and run when he gets pressured Penn State will give him problems with their rush.
THE FINAL VERDICT
In handicapping this game, there is really no edge to be found either way from a pointspread perspective. Which generally means taking a close look at the dog is a good idea. Getting +4 here could loom very large.
The way to look here from a betting standpoint may very well be the total. Specifically, the Under 40 points. These are two of the best defenses in the Nation. Ohio State weighs in with a yards per point number of 22 defensively and we all saw them keep USC in check earlier this year. Penn State's yards per point number defensively is a phenomenal 27. Translated, no one is scoring on either of these defenses. Each team has kept all of their opponents but one under 18 points this year and Ohio State boasts three shutouts.
5 of the last 7 games in this series have seen less than 40 points scored. 6 of the last 7 games have seen less than 41 points scored. No reason to think that trend doesn't continue as points figure to be at a premium Saturday afternoon in State College. Penn State/Ohio State UNDER 40
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