The Saturday night slate looks to be jam-packed with quality matchups, including four different games between nationally ranked teams. You can make a case for any one of those four as being the most appealing, but it’s tough not to include this game between Big 10 rivals at the top of the list.
While it’s still early in the regular season, this game could have a dramatic impact on not only the final Big 10 standings, but also positioning for the College Football Playoff. Let’s take a closer look at what could be the finest matchup of the evening slate.
Ohio State @ Penn State, 7:30 PM EST, ABC
- Ohio State -3 (-115)
- Penn State +3 (-105)
- Ohio State -160
- Penn State +140
- Over 70 (+110)
- Under 70 (-130)
Ohio State vs. Penn State pick:
Saturday night, Beaver Stadium in University Park, Pennsylvania will be the venue for a matchup of the #4 and #9 teams in the nation. To say that the game between these two Big 10 East division rivals is highly anticipated would be an understatement.
The Ohio State Buckeyes enter the game with a perfect mark of 4-0. The team’s offense has been absolutely rolling, as the Buckeyes are outscoring opponents to the tune of 218-68 so far. Sophomore QB Dwayne Haskins has firmly inserted himself into the Heisman Trophy conversation, as he has current odds of 6/1 to win the coveted award.
On the season, Haskins is completing 75.7 percent of his passes for 1,194 yards, 16 touchdowns, and one interception. Haskins has also added on a rushing TD for good measure. The offense has a plethora of weapons to choose from, as evidenced by the number of 100+ yard rushers (4) and receivers (7).
Sophomore J.K. Dobbins is the leading rusher through four games with a line of 56/323/2. Senior wideout Parris Campbell is the leading pass catcher, as he has hauled in 19 balls for 299 yards and five scores.
Defensively, Ohio State is giving up 181.3 passing yards, 142 rushing yards, and 17 points per game. The unit has also generated a whopping 15 sacks through four games, as well as four interceptions and three fumbles.
The Penn State Nittany Lions also enter the game with a perfect record of 4-0. The season opened up with the team getting the daylights scared out of it by a spirited effort from visiting Appalachian State. Penn State needed overtime to put the Mountaineers away for good by a score of 45-38.
Since that wake-up call, the team has rolled over its next three opponents. On the year, Penn State is outscoring opponents by a score of 222-78. Senior QB Trace McSorley has the keys to the offense, and he has been getting it done through the air and on the ground. That’s been enough to vault him into the Heisman conversation as well.
McSorley has completed 53.8 percent of his passes for 763 yards, eight touchdowns and two picks. He has also toted the rock 41 times for 235 yards and six scores. Despite McSorley’s prowess on the ground, there have still been plenty of carries leftover for junior RB Miles Sanders.
Through four games, Sanders has delivered a line of 71/495/5, and he has also caught seven passes for 56 yards. Freshman KJ Hamler is leading the way for the wide receivers with nine receptions for 170 yards and three scores.
Defensively, Penn State is allowing similar averages to Ohio State, but the former is showing more vulnerability against the run. On the year, opponents are averaging 173.3 passing yards, 172.5 rushing yards, and 19.5 points per game. The unit has also generated 14 sacks, four interceptions, and two fumbles.
Both clubs enter the game with legitimate College Football Playoff aspirations. Ohio State is viewed as having a better shot to take down the national title with odds of 5/1, while Penn State checks in at 18/1. Needless to say, this game is going to have a huge impact on not only next week’s rankings, but the path to the Big 10 title and the College Football Playoff.
These two squads first met way back in 1912, a 37-0 victory for Penn State. They have met 32 times in total, with Ohio State holding an 18-14 edge. In recent times, the Buckeyes have a clear edge by going 7-3 straight up and 5-5 against the spread. Over that span, the under has been the correct call five times, including in two of the last three meetings.
Last year, these two schools hooked up for an absolute thriller. Ohio State was a seven-point home favorite in a game with a projected total of 57.5 points. When the final whistle sounded, the Buckeyes walked off the field with a 39-38 victory. Back in 2016, the teams had yet another close game, with Penn State taking that one down by a score of 24-21.
Looking ahead, Ohio State has games on tap with Indiana, Minnesota, and Purdue before entering its bye week. Penn State is off next week, but the club will be back in action with a date with the Michigan State Spartans on October 13.
While Ohio State is technically better on paper and as far as the oddsmakers are concerned, these two schools are pretty evenly matched. Recent history bears that out as well, with a total of four points separating the two squads over its two most recent meetings.
A case can easily be made for either side to walk out the victors, and we’re expecting a close one regardless of which school comes out on top. At the end of the day, a rabid home crowd at Beaver Stadium should help the hosts keep the margin of victory to a field goal or less, if not spur them to an outright win.
We’ll go with Penn State plus the points for what shapes up to be an absolutely stellar game.