Ohio State vs Penn State Preview & Free Pick [October 31st 2020]

Ohio State (1-0) at Penn State (0-1)
When: Saturday, October 31st, 2020
Where: Beaver Stadium,
State College, PA

Time: 7:30 ET | TV: ABC
Opening Odds: Ohio State -9.5/61.5

It’s usually a big party when Ohio State comes to University Park, Pa. every other year, but this year will be quite different. The 18th-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions will host Ohio State in an empty Beaver Stadium Saturday night in a must-win situation. Penn State was upset 36-35 in overtime last week at Indiana and are trying to avoid their first 0-2 start since 2012. The Hoosiers tied the game with 22 seconds left in regulation on a touchdown and two-point conversion, and then scored another TD and controversial two-pointer to win. The Nittany Lions will be without running back Noah Cain, who sustained a season-ending injury last week. That will test Penn State’s depth as No. 1 back Journey Brown has been ruled out, possibly for the season, with a medical issue. Ohio State had little trouble in their season opener versus Nebraska at home, winning 52-17, but could be without wide receiver Chris Olave because of an injury. He had six catches for 104 yards vs. Nebraska.

Ohio State opened as 9.5-point favorites, but the public has been all over the Buckeyes to push the line up to 12 at Bovada Sportsbook as of Thursday night. After Penn State dropped 10 spots in the poll, the matchup will be the first since 2016 that both teams are not ranked in the top 10. Ohio State has won seven of the past eight meetings but Penn State has covered the spread in each of the last four including a 24-21 win at Beaver Stadium in 2016. The under has cashed in four of the past five.

Quarterback Justin Fields had a solid performance last Saturday, completing 20-of-21 for 276 yards and two touchdowns. Fields also led the team with 54 rushing yards on 15 carries and a score. The 52-17 home win over Nebraska was good enough to cover the large 27.5-point spread. Garrett Wilson had 129 receiving yards and a touchdown on seven catches, while Chris Olave caught six for 104. The running game totaled 215 yards on the ground on 48 carries, but the defense needs to improve against a better Penn State team. The Buckeyes allowed Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez to rush for 77 yards and backup Luke McCaffrey had a 47-yard run among his 87 yards. It’s only one game, but that puts Ohio State 87th in the country against the run. The Buckeyes will have a much easier game next week when they host Rutgers.

Penn State QB Sean Clifford could have similar success Nebraska quarterbacks had in rushing the ball after he rumbled for 119 yards on 17 carries against the Hoosiers. Clifford finished 24-of-35 passing for 238 yards and three touchdowns, but also threw two interceptions. Penn State’s defense limited Indiana to only 41 rushing yards on 26 carries for a poor 1.6 yards-per-carry average. They did allow three rushing scores, but also recorded three sacks. Last year, the Nittany Lions allowed just 3.8 yards per carry to Ohio State and sacked Fields three times. After one game, Penn State is ranked No. 1 in the nation against the run. The Lions will host Maryland next week.

Despite the loss, Penn State did outgain Indiana by 277 yards. My guess is, they have been preparing for this game for weeks and just overlooked a pretty decent Hoosiers squad. I can see Clifford having success against an Ohio State secondary that’s replacing three starters from last year. I’ll take the points.

Pick: Penn State +12
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