Ohio State is undefeated and still the No. 1 team in the country, but the Buckeyes have not covered in five straight Games. Penn State has won five straight themselves, but all of which have been home Games against mediocre competition. The Buckeyes are -17 point favorites (at 5 Dimes Sportsbook) in the usually tight rivalry.
The Buckeyes failed to cover last year, but won in Happy Valley 31-24. But two years ago in Columbus, OSU destroyed Penn State 63-14.
So far this year, the Nittany Lions have seemingly played a bit better defensively than the Bucks. They held a potent Indiana attack to just seven points last week, which was an indicator of how good they could be, granted IU’s normal starting quarterback wasn’t active. OSU beat the Hoosiers just 34-27 a couple weekends ago and most recently won 49-28 against a Maryland team that failed to Scoreagainst Michigan.
Can Ohio State get up to last year’s levels, or will they continue to disappoint? If there were to be a Game in which the Buckeyes would step up, one would think this would be it, at The Horseshoe against Penn State.
The Buckeyes haven’t looked great offensively, but still scored 49 points against Maryland, granted the Terrapins don’t have a great defense. Cardale Jones (7 TDs, 5 INTs) is still struggling to find consistency, while J.T. Barrett is getting more and more time as a rusher. The man to stop on this offense is running back Ezekiel Elliott, who already has 835 yards and 10 touchdowns. As long as Elliott can find some room, this offense should continue to have success.
The Nittany Lions are allowing 14.3 points per Game at the moment, but they haven’t faced an offense like OSU’s yet, so it will be a fun matchup to watch.
On the other end, Penn State has been as bad as the defense has been good. The offensive line is still a mess, but due to a stretch of weaker opponents, that hasn’t been a problem in recent Games. Ohio State is not a weak team. In fact, despite the mediocre numbers this year, the Buckeyes have one of the best defenses in the country, at least talent wise.
Will Christian Hackenberg be able to handle the pressure on the road? He managed to last year in Happy Valley against the Buckeyes, but he was destroyed in PSU’s only other road Game this year, losing 27-10 at Temple.
On the year, Hackenberg is still only completing 53% of his passes for 7 TDs and 2 INTs. Chris Godwin (27 receptions) and DaeSean Hamilton (17 rec.) are the only two receivers on the offense with at least 10 catches. In addition, the Penn State offense could be without leading running backs Akeel Lynch and Saquon Barkley yet again. They have used a committee the last couple weeks with Nick SCott (27 carries, 125 yards) leading the way. Even if Lynch or Barkley return, the Lions could easily have trouble running the ball.
The Buckeyes have covered six of the last eight meetings between these teams in Columbus, while the under has hit in five of the last seven there as well.
Our Pick – While Penn State hasn’t exactly been impressive this year, neither has Ohio State. In fact, both of these teams have played an equally weak Schedule.
We use a vareity of methods to come up with a number on a Game. Often times, those numbers are in the same ball park. For this Game, Our numbers are anywhere from Ohio State by 1 to Ohio State by 10. Those numbers include Our model. Penn State +17