The Penn State Nittany Lions are one of the few teams outside the College Football Playoff picture that can actually control their own fate as they visit the Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday. A victory over the powerhouse Buckeyes would plant Penn State firmly in the CFP conversation – but the task is a difficult one given how dominant Ohio State has been this season.
Opening Odds Analysis
The Buckeyes are whopping favorites in this one, though each of the previous three meetings have been decided by three or fewer points.
Penn State News & Notes
The Nittany Lions are somewhat fortunate to have remained a one-loss team following last week’s hard-fought 34-27 win over the Indiana Hoosiers; Penn State was outgained by nearly 100 yards in the win, which came on the heels of a 31-26 loss to host Minnesota. Penn State is just 3-5 ATS in its past eight games, though its three covers in that span have come on the road.
A major key for the Nittany Lions will be keeping up with the highest-scoring team in the country – and QB Sean Clifford and company might have some problems in that regard. Clifford has completed just over 52 percent of his pass attempts with six touchdowns and three interceptions in two games this season vs nationally ranked teams.
Ohio State News & Notes
It’s been a long time since the Buckeyes have had to work up a sweat, with last week’s 56-21 drubbing of Rutgers marking their ninth victory of 30-plus points this season and the fifth time they’ve surpassed the 50-point plateau. They failed to cover against the Scarlet Knights for the first time in nine games – but only because they gave most starters the entire second half off.
It would be one thing for the Buckeyes to have just one major offensive weapon Penn State has to be concerned with – but that isn’t the case. In addition to running back J.K. Dobbins (1,289 rush yards, 15 TDs) running roughshod over the competition, QB Justin Fields (2,164 pass yards, 31 TDs, 1 INT) has been nearly flawless while completing 69.1 percent of his attempts.
Betting Pick: Ohio State
We’d give Penn State a better shot here if the Nittany Lions were playing better, but those performances against Minnesota and Indiana won’t fly – especially with Ohio State enjoying home-field advantage.