Ohio State vs No. 18 Penn State

No. 3 Ohio State vs No. 18 Penn State Preview | 2020 NCAA Expert Analysis

Written by on October 30, 2020

The clear marquee game around college football on Saturday is from the Big Ten as No. 3 Ohio State visits No. 18 Penn State. This would have been a Top-10 matchup had the Nittany Lions not lost last week.

How to Bet Ohio State at Penn State NCAA Football Odds & TV Info

  • When: Saturday, 7:30 PM ET
  • Where: Beaver Stadium
  • TV: ABC
  • Stream: ESPN app
  • Radio:com
  • Opening NCAAF Lines: OSU -12 (total 63.5)

Last Meeting

Penn State lost at No. 2 Ohio State late in the 2019 regular season 28-17. Justin Hillard intercepted Penn State backup Will Levis’ pass and the Buckeyes stopped the Nittany Lions on fourth down on two late drives. J.K. Dobbins rushed for 157 yards and two touchdowns, and Justin Fields threw for 188 yards and two scores for Ohio State. Penn State took advantage of two second-half turnovers to climb back in the game after trailing 21-0. Lions starting QB Sean Clifford left in the third quarter with an injury.

Saturday will be the 36th all-time meeting between Ohio State and Penn State and the 27th since the Nittany Lions joined the Big Ten in 1993. The Buckeyes lead the series 20-14 and are 8-6 in games played in State College. Since 2014, five of the six games have been decided by 11 points or less and three of them featuring fourth-quarter comebacks.

Why Bet on Ohio State? | 2020 NCAA Expert Analysis

OSU opened its season with an easy 52-17 win over Nebraska. The Buckeyes, who have now won six straight in the series, have claimed 35 straight home openers in Ohio Stadium. The Buckeyes controlled the final 30 minutes handily scoring a pair of touchdowns in each of the third and fourth quarters.

QB and Heisman Trophy candidate completed all but one of his 21 pass attempts for 276 yards and two touchdowns. He added another 54 yards on the ground. Fields’ .952 completion percentage was is the second highest in a single game and the best by a quarterback with 11 or more attempts.

Garrett Wilson nabbed seven balls on the day for 129 yards, while counterpart Chris Olave hauled in six grabs to also eclipse the century mark (104). Ohio State finished with two 100-yard receivers in a game for the first time since Terry McLaurin and Johnnie Dixon did it in 2018 at Maryland.

The Buckeyes have scored more offensive touchdowns since 2012 (595) than any other team in the country. In the Ryan Day era (2017-present), Ohio State has scored 40 or more points in 25 of 43 games (58 percent) and 30 or more 32 times. Only four teams – Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ohio State and Alabama – have scored 30+ points in at least 70 percent of their games since 2017.

For this game, Ohio State is 29-5 since 2012 against Associated Press Top 25 teams and has won 16 consecutive games over ranked Big Ten opponents (including conference championship games). That’s the longest streak in the AP poll era (1936). In that span, the Buckeyes are 9-0 on the road with wins over Michigan State (2012, 2014), Michigan (2015, 2019), Penn State (2018), Oklahoma (2016), Minnesota (2014), Wisconsin (2016) and Northwestern (2013).

Why Bet on Penn State? | 2020 NCAA Expert Analysis

Penn State absolutely blew last week’s game, a 36-35 OT loss to Indiana. Up 21-20 with less than two minutes left, Penn State forced a turnover on downs deep in Indiana territory, and with the Hoosiers down to one timeout, the Nittany Lions could have used up most or all of the clock.

But Devyn Ford raced untouched toward the end zone and, realizing his mistake a split second too late, fell in for a touchdown and a 28-20 lead. Indiana then proceeded to drive 75 yards, scoring with 22 seconds left and converting the tying 2-point attempt on a Michael Penix Jr. run. Penn State coach James Franklin said the plan was to stop short of the goal line.

PSU scored first in OT, but Indiana scored on its possession and opted to try for 2. Hoosiers QB Michael Penix ran left and dove, extending the football towards the pylon, making contact with both it and the ground out of bounds, for what was ruled a touchdown.

PSU quarterback Sean Clifford accounted for four touchdowns, including a late go-ahead touchdown pass and an overtime touchdown throw in the loss. Clifford had 357 yards of total offense, throwing for 238 yards on 24-of-35 passing and rushing for 119 yards – the seventh-most by a quarterback in Penn State history. Pat Freiermuth became Penn State’s career leader in touchdown receptions by a tight end with the 16th of his career to break a tie with Mike Gesicki (2014-17), scoring on the game’s opening drive and catching seven passes for 60 yards.

Penn State outgained Indiana 488-211 in total offense yards, but had issues with turnovers, penalties and the kicking game. The Lions also lost top running back Noah Cain to a season-ending leg injury.  Cain appeared to injure his left leg in the first series of the game and did not return to action. Cain had only three attempts for 13 yards this season in the first game and is now the second running back to miss the season, joining Journey Brown who is out with an undisclosed medical condition.

Penn State begins its 61st season in Beaver Stadium with a seven game-winning streak in home openers, and faces a its highest-ranked home-opening opponent since hosting No. 2 Miami (Fla.) in 2001. Penn State’s all-time record in home openers is 119-13-1 and 51-9 in Beaver Stadium.

PSU’s only home opener against a Big Ten opponent was its very first Big Ten game in 1993, a 38-20 win over Minnesota. Penn State is playing its first home opener against an AP Top 25 team since 2001 and ninth all-time. Penn State is 4-4 in those games.

Game Trends

  • Buckeyes are 10-3 ATS in their last 13 conference games.
  • Nittany Lions are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games as a home underdog.
  • Nittany Lions are 8-1 ATS in their last 9 games following a ATS loss.
  • Nittany Lions are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games as an underdog.
  • Home team is 5-2 ATS in their last 7 meetings.
  • Under is 4-1 in the last 5 meetings.
Expert Prediction Ohio State 31, Penn State 23
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