Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Ohio State Buckeyes Preview and Pick

No. 3 Penn State Nittany Lions (8-0) -2.5 at No. 9 Ohio State Buckeyes (7-1) +2.5 Saturday, October 25, 8pm ET, Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio – ABC
by Matt of

The NCAA College Football game of the week belongs to the Big Ten Conference as the Penn State Nittany Lions travel to Columbus to take on the Buckeyes of Ohio State. Penn State is 8-0 for the first time since 1999 and will look to keep their BCS title hopes alive with a win while the Buckeyes look to get back in the BCS picture with an upset. The game kicks at 8pm eastern and can be seen on ABC.

Penn State is currently a 2.5 point favorite at the majority of college football sportsbooks with the over/under total for the game at 47. The Lions are on the money line at at -135 while the Buckeyes are typically found at +115.

Penn State and Ohio State both share 4-0 conference marks and sit tied atop the Big Ten. The winner this Saturday will hold maintain a one game lead with the loser falling back to the current one-loss teams, Michigan State, No. 22 Northwestern, and No. 24 Minnesota.


Penn State breezed through the non-conference season and hasn’t seen much resistance in conference either, winning 48-7 and 46-17 against Wisconsin and Michigan in the last two weeks. PSU has met Vegas’ expectations during their unblemished run, going 5-1-1 against the spread on the year and hitting the over in five of seven games with a total. The Lions are 4-1-1 ATS in their last six road contests, but have struggled with Big Ten foes, going 2-5-1 against the spread in the last eight conference games.

Ohio State’s run to 7-1 has been a lot bumpier than most had expected, with a few close calls out of conference and a waxing at the hands of USC in California. The Buckeyes look to be rounding into shape as Terrelle Pryor gains confidence and showed a complete team effort in last week’s 45-7 beat down of Michigan State. With the early struggles, Ohio State has compiled a 2-5 against the spread mark and look to reverse a trend that has them 0-5 ATS in the last five in Columbus. OSU is 2-6 against the spread in all games going back to last year.

Penn State is strong on both sides of the ball, averaging a 7th best, 45.4 points on offense and giving up only 11.8 points on defense, good for 6th in the NCAA. PSU features a “spread HD” offensive formation that is averaging 234 yards on the ground and 247 yards through the air to keep opposing defenses from keying on any one phase. The Lion defense is holding opponents to 159 yards through the air despite defending the pass often in one-sided games and gives up just over 260 total yards per contest.

Daryll Clark runs the show for Penn State, hitting on 63.3% of passes for 1,531 yards with 11 touchdowns to just 2 interceptions and 5 sacks taken. Clark has added 8 more TD’s via the rush on just 47 carries. Evan Royster is the bellcow for PSU, rushing for 893 yards and 10 touchdowns, compiling a 7.7 yards per carry average. Jordan Norwood and Deon Butler are Clark’s favorite targets, with both receivers over the 400 yard plateau, combining for 8 TD’s.

Ohio State can match Penn State in terms of playmakers, but have had to deal with QB transition and injuries in the early going. The Buckeyes are solid on the ground, averaging a 33rd best 182 rush yards, but lag a bit through the air, with only 140 passing yards per, good for only 108th in the country. The OSU defense has pulled it’s weight, with top-20 ranks in rushing, passing and total yards allowed, while giving up only 13.4 points on average.

Terrelle Pryor has taken the helm as a freshman and excelled with a 65.6 completion percentage on the way to 653 yards and 6 touchdowns against 2 INT’s. Pryor has added 411 yards and 5 touchdowns on the ground, but has been sacked 14 times in efforts to make or extend plays with his legs. Chris Wells looks back in form from an early injury and is averaging 6.1 yards per carry with 4 TD’s on 619 yards. Brian Robiske is the main receiving threat for the Buckeyes, pulling down 26 passes for 242 yards and finding the endzone on five occasions.

Both teams look in good health with a few day-to-day injuries on the Buckeye injury report and DL Doug Klopacz and LB Jarome Hayes out for Saturday’s game on the latest Penn State list. The weather should cooperate for the game, with kickoff temps forcasted in the low 50’s under coudy skies.

The home team is on a good run in this series, going 9-1 against the spread in the last ten meetings, but there hasn’t been a visitor looking as good as Penn State is. The favorite has also been a good bet of late between these teams, going 7-3 ATS in those ten games.

My Pick: No way does Penn State leave the horseshoe with a win. Buckeyes win and cover!