In a down year for the Big Ten, the two best teams might be the only two that are banned from postseason play. The game of the day (5:30pm ET) in the Big 10 features the undefeated Ohio St. Buckeyes (8-0, 4-0 in the Big 10) led by first year Head Coach Urban Meyer traveling to State College, PA to take on the surprising Penn St. Nittany Lions (5-23-0 in the Big 10), who also are led by a new head man in Bill O’Brien who has them on a five-game winning streak in what was expected to be a lost season in Happy Valley. The Buckeyes are 3-5 ATS this season, and have failed to cover their last two wins, a 29-22 victory over Purdue last week as a 17 point favorite, and a 52-49 win at Indiana the previous week as a 19 point favorite. Penn State is 6-1 ATS this season, with a six-game winning streak ATS including last week’s surprising blowout win at Iowa by a score of 38-14 as a 1 point underdog.
The Ohio St. offense has adapter to Meyer’s new system in a big way with dual-threat quarterback Braxton Miller (1,384 yards passing, 959 yards rushing) one of the top players in the nation in terms of offensive production. Miller is probable this week with a neck injury, though he could be limited physically if he takes the field. The Buckeyes rank 22nd among FBS teams in scoring offense with 39 points per game and 41st nationally in total offense with 438.6 yards per game utilizing Meyer’s spread offense. The OSU defense has not been as stellar this season, ranking 52nd nationally in scoring defense with 24.2 PPG and 68th in total defense with 395.5 YPG allowed. OSU has been particular dreadful against the pass, ranking 109th with 271.8 YPG allowed through the air.
Penn St. has had better than expected production offensively, ranking a respectable 63rd in scoring offense with 28.6 PPG and 60th in total offense with 406.4 YPG. Senior QB Matt McGloin (1,788 yards passing, 14 TDs, 2 INTs) has been an excellent leader and decision maker, and has produced above his expected level of “game manager”. On defense, Penn State has excelled ranking 13th in scoring defense with 15.7 PPG allowed and 22nd in total defense with 320.6 YPG allowed.
Ohio St. vs. Penn St. Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Ohio St. Buckeyes +1
@ Penn St. Nittany Lions -1
Over 50.5 (-110)
Under 50.5 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Ohio St. vs. Penn St. Pick:
Ohio St. has gone 23-7 ATS in their last 30 games on grass, 26-10-1 ATS in their last 37 road games, and 44-20-1 ATS in their last 65 Big 10 games. The Nittany Lions are 4-1-1 ATS in their last 6 Big 10 games, 3-1-1 ATS in their last 5 home games, and 14-5-1 ATS in their last 20 October games. The under is 9-4 in OSU’s last 13 games against winning teams and 7-1-1 in their last 9 games on grass. The under is 20-6-1 in Penn State’s last 27 home games, 14-5-1 in their last 20 games overall, and 9-3-1 in their last 13 games against teams with a winning record. In head-to-head play, the under is 6-2 in the last 8 meetings between the two teams and the road team is 4-1 ATS in the last 5 meetings.
The Nittany Lions have received very little respect from the odds makers this season, and they have certainly exceeded expiations to this point and been a great bet ATS with a six game unbeaten streak against the line. They are a very tempting play here at home against a depleted Ohio State team that has been living dangerously all season long. The overwhelming trend in this series has been the under, but with Penn State showing a lot of life on offense under O’Brien and a resurgent McGloin, and the OSU secondary among the worst in the country there could be some scoring in this one. The call here is that after multiple close calls, on the road in particular against Big 10 rivals Michigan St. and Indiana, OSU’s luck will run out here and the Nittany Lions will be victorious.
PICK = Penn State -1