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Buckeyes Visit Penn State Seeking 17th Straight Big Ten Win

Ohio State running back Trey Sermon runs the ball against Nebraska during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Columbus, Ohio.

Ohio State (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS) hasn’t lost a conference game in more than two years, but things rarely come easy for the Buckeyes in Happy Valley. The Nittany Lions (0-1, 0-1) should also be hungry to rebound from last week’s controversial loss at Indiana.

Ohio State Buckeyes vs Penn State Nittany Lions
  • Date/Time: October 31, 7:30 p.m. ET
  • Stadium: Beaver Stadium
  • TV Coverage: ABC
  • Opening Odds: Ohio State -9.5 | O/U 61.5 (Line History)
  • Ohio State vs Penn State Matchup Report

Opening Odds Analysis

Early action forced most sportsbooks to move Ohio State up to -12.5 by the time of writing Sunday night. The Nittany Lions have been double-digit underdogs in two of the previous three meetings at Beaver Stadium, where six of their last nine showdowns have been decided by seven points or less.

Ohio State News & Notes

Quarterback Justin Fields was nearly perfect in the Buckeyes’ 52-17 win over Nebraska last week, completing 20 of 21 passes for 276 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The 2019 Heisman Trophy finalist completed his first 12 attempts and his only misfire was a deep ball that receiver Chris Olave dropped in the end zone after being hit.

The Buckeyes may need Fields to continue playing at that high level if they can’t find a way to replace the production of J.K. Dobbins, who averaged 6.7 yards per carry last year before being drafted by the Baltimore Ravens. Trey Sermon and Master Teague III combined for just 89 rushing yards on 23 carries against the Huskers, although Teague did score two touchdowns.

With a double-digit point spread in this one, it’s worth noting that Ohio State head coach Ryan Day didn’t show any hesitancy in piling up the score against Nebraska. The Buckeyes ran for a touchdown with 18 seconds left, rather than kneeling at the Cornhuskers’ two-yard line.

With many sportsbooks closing the Buckeyes as 28-point favorites, that late major allowed Ohio State backers to cash their tickets instead of settling for a push.

Penn State News & Notes

The Nittany Lions’ loss on a disputed two-point conversion in Indiana wouldn’t have happened if running back Devyn Ford had gone short of the goal line with 1:42 left in regulation instead of scoring a touchdown to put Penn State up eight. However, head coach James Franklin wasn’t about to point the finger at Ford – or himself – for the 36-35 overtime defeat.

“There are a lot of plays throughout the game that we should have done differently,” the coach told reporters in his post-game press conference. The Nittany Lions turned the ball over three times and were penalized 10 times for 100 yards. Penn State also struggled early in its first game under new offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca, going into halftime down 17-7.

When the Nittany Lions did start moving the ball better in the second half, quarterback Sean Clifford’s legs had a lot to do with it. The junior ran 17 times for 119 yards, including a 35-yard touchdown, and tossed a 60-yard TD to give the Nittany Lions a 21-20 lead with 2:30 to go in regulation.

Clifford could enjoy another strong rushing performance against an Ohio State defense that allowed Nebraska QB Adrian Martinez to run for 77 yards and a TD last week.

Betting Pick: Penn State +12.5

Ohio State looked vulnerable on the ground against Nebraska, something I expect Clifford and the Nittany Lions to exploit early and often in what looks like a great bounce-back spot to back Penn State. Don’t be surprised to see another one-score game between these rivals at Happy Valley.

Shark Bites
  • Ohio State is 10-4 ATS in its last 14 games.
  • Penn State is 0-5 ATS in its last 5 home games.
  • The total has gone OVER in 11 of Ohio State’s last 14 road games.