College Football Pick
For the second straight week, Ohio State has to take on a solid Big Ten opponent on the road who is coming off a week of rest. The Buckeyes traveled to Madison last week and are in Happy Valley for this one. But how much does that matter at this point?
Well, maybe a little bit. It’s been a while since the Bucks blew out the Nittany Lions at State College. Back in 2014, OSU’s title-winning season, the teams battled with the road team leaving as 31-24 victors. Two years before that, the Game was 35-23. As for the other two meetings in Columbus in that period, the Buckeyes rolled to easy wins outscoring PSU 101-24. Needless to say, this may not be the walkover that everyone assumes it will be.
A lot of people will get that idea because Penn State got mauled by Michigan earlier in the season in a 49-10. The Nittany Lions couldn’t do anything right and gave up a ridiculous 326 rushing yards and six touchdowns in the loss. But again, that Game was played in Ann Arbor.
Of course, it’s not like Ohio State hasn’t been impressive this season, already with a 45-24 road win at Oklahoma to its name. In last year’s 38-10 win for the Buckeyes, it took them a little bit to get going, but J.T. Barrett eventually came in for Cardale Jones and went off for Four touchdowns. He had as close to a perfect QBR (99.9) as you can get while Christian Hackenberg had just a 3.3 QBR as Penn State ran the ball as much as possible.
It wouldn’t be surprising if the Nittany Lions tried to take that route again behind Saquon Barkley, who has 582 yards and eight touchdowns on the season. That was their goal against Michigan, but going down 14 points in the first quarter ultimately forced Trace McSorley into more passing.
McSorley hasn’t been bad this year, probably better than Hackenberg a year ago, but still hasn’t been great. He has 11 total touchdowns (eight passing) and three interceptions on the season, but most of those numbers are against weaker defenses, which can’t be said about Ohio State. McSorley has rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns the last two Games, but that was against Minnesota and Maryland. In the three prior Games, he finished with negative rushing yards.
Considering the Buckeyes already did just fine against Baker Mayfield and the Sooners, all signs point to this Game being a struggle for McSorley. But again, Penn State is at home and you never know. Barkley could have a nice run or two or McSorley could keep the Nittany Lions around long enough to cover.
Maybe a bigger question for Ohio State backers will be what Barrett does against this defense. since the Lions gave up 42 points to Pitt, 27 to Temple and 26 to Minnesota already this year, 40 points could be in play for the Buckeyes per usual.
They couldn’t stop Michigan’s ground Game and will have a hard time against the trio of Mike Weber, Curtis Samuel and Barrett. Yes, previous meetings in Happy Valley have been close, but it’s going to be hard for anyone to put money on Penn State in this Game.
Our Pick – Ohio State -19.5