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Ohio State has not won a game by more than 10 points in its last three games. Yet entering this one against Penn State, the Buckeyes are a healthy -14.5 point favorite at home at betonline sportsbook. In the past decade, the spread between these teams has only reached double digits twice, both were in Columbus and both times the Buckeyes covered. It may be a similar situation in this one with how inconsistent the Nittany Lions have been.
In Penn State's only true road game of the season, they lost to Indiana, 44-24. The next weekend they took out Michigan in four overtimes, although that win is losing relevance quickly with how bad the Wolverines have been defensively. If Indiana can beat the Nittany Lions by 20 points at home, what will Ohio State do to them?
The Buckeyes are coming off a disappointing 10-point home win over Iowa and will look to rebound against a bigger rival. The Hawkeyes actually outplayed OSU in the first half last weekend, which hasn't happened this season. Braxton Miller ended up having a solid game, completing 22-of-27 passes for two TDs while rushing for 102 yards. Carlos Hyde did his usual thing as well, with 149 rushing yards and two touchdowns. In the second half they got it going and scored three straight touchdowns, but for a time it didn't look like Ohio State was a true National Championship contender.
On the offensive side, Penn State isn't terrible, but they have some fire power at QB. Led by freshman Christian Hackenberg, they've had their moments. In the road game at Indiana, Hackenberg threw for 340 yards and three touchdowns, but it also took him 55 pass attempts, which isn't great. He hasn't completed more than 55 percent of his passes in three straight games and that includes going 13-of-35 against Kent State in a 34-0 win. Their run game is solid, but nothing that's going to overtake the Buckeyes. Zach Zwinak leads the way with 393 yards, but he was actually second fiddle to Bill Belton in the win over the Wolverines. It'll be interesting to see how that plays out. Allen Robinson leads the receiving game with 705 yards and five TDs and will get most of the attention from the OSU DBs.
With the way PSU's defense has been playing, it's going to take a special effort from Hackenberg and company to stay competitive in this game. Or if the Buckeyes get off to a slow start again, that would be helpful. It'll be tough for the Nittany Lions to keep Miller and Hyde under 40 points.
The Nittany Lions are 4-1-1 ATS in their last six conference games and 3-0-1 ATS in their last four road games vs. a team with a winning home record. The Buckeyes are 8-1-1 ATS in their last 10 games following a straight up win. The road team has covered in five of the last six games between these schools.
The game is not as lopsided as you might think in terms of public betting. They like Ohio State, but the percentages at sportsbook.com are only 58%. This is likely an indicator that the early line move from -13.5 to -14.5 was caused by sharp action. The important thing to remember about that is that the sharp players took Ohio State -13.5, NOT -14.5, where it sits now. This is a numbers game. The bettors that get the BEST numbers, win. Always keep that in mind!
Pick - Penn State +16.5
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