Happy Valley will host the Big Ten’s marquee matchup of the weekend when the Penn State Nittany Lions square off with the Ohio State Buckeyes in a game that could have a huge impact on the Big Ten race.
The Buckeyes, who are ranked No. 2 with arguably the best roster in the nation, are favored by more than two touchdowns in this conference clash. They are 7-0 (4-0 in conference play) and have yet to be really challenged. Ohio State’s 21-10 win over Notre Dame in the opener was the last time Ryan Day’s squad failed to win a game by at least three touchdowns.
But the Buckeyes can’t really afford to have a misstep with so many one-loss teams hanging around in the College Football Playoff picture. So expect them to be ready for the No. 13-ranked Nittany Lions, who are 6-1 overall and 3-1 in conference play. James Franklin’s team is one win away from matching last year’s win total after a 7-6 campaign.
Ohio State has won five in a row in this rivalry, including last year’s 33-24 victory when both teams were ranked inside the top 20. The Buckeyes lead the all-time series 23-13 and are 15-7 when both teams are ranked.
Caesars Sportsbook lists Ohio State as a 15.5-point favorite with an over/under of 61 points.
Let’s take a closer look at the odds and trends:
Penn State vs. Ohio State
Time/TV: Noon ET Saturday, FOX
Point spread (from Caesars Sportsbook): Ohio State -15.5
Money line: Buckeyes -700, Nittany Lions +500
Analysis: Make no mistake: Ohio State should win this game. At -700, the Buckeyes have an implied probability of 87.5% to win, even on the road against a team ranked inside the top 15.
But who will cover? That is the real question. For the early spread to be north of two touchdowns, that tells us bookmakers like Ohio State’s chances. It is easy to see why, as the Buckeyes lead the country in touchdowns with 47 and are second in the nation in scoring with an average of 49.6 points per game. They have also only given up an average of 14.9 points per contest, which ranks fifth.
The Nittany Lions bounced back with a 45-17 win over Minnesota last weekend, but it is important to remember what happened two weeks ago. Penn State suffered a 41-17 defeat to Michigan the last time it faced one of the nation’s elite squads. The Nittany Lions might receive another wake-up call this weekend.
Prediction: Ohio State 42, Penn State 20