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Ohio State vs. Penn State: Preview, Prop Pick and Prediction

A game that caters to those who yearn for tough-guy football and an era in which defense actually did win championships is our pick for the game of the week. Unbeaten Penn State visits Ohio Stadium for a huge Big Ten East Division tilt in a showdown with Ohio State that likely will swing on one or two explosive plays.

Penn State played a schedule that makes it a little difficult to anoint its defense unbeatable to date. The Nittany Lions’ most formidable opponent was Iowa, now ranked No. 24, and Penn State passed that test 31-0. Coming off a 63-0 pasting of Massachusetts last Saturday, Penn State aims to make a major case for inclusion in the College Football Playoff; after Saturday, only a Nov. 11 home date with No. 2 Michigan stands as a serious impediment prior to a potential Big Ten title matchup (likely against either overmatched Iowa or overmatched Wisconsin). Ohio State quarterback Kyle McCord engineered a dramatic late drive at Notre Dame, winning 17-14 and answering those critical of his talent and leadership.

The Buckeyes crushed Purdue 41-7 last Saturday as McCord threw for 276 yards and three touchdowns.

Can betting value be found in the total, or is this slugfest worth a wager on the underdog?

We have news, trends and quotes — along with our game prediction.

–Kickoff: noon, ET –Television: FOX –Location: Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. –Point Spread, Total: Ohio State -4.5, Total 45.5 (per BetMGM as of Wednesday).

THE NEWS The prideful Penn State defense appears to have the talent to shut down an opponent and could be helped by key injuries impacting Ohio State’s offense. Rabid backers of either side should probably keep their money on the sideline until the availability report is released by the Buckeyes a few hours prior to kickoff. The status of running backs TreVeyon Henderson, Chip Trayanum and Miyan Williams, along with standout receiver Emeka Egbuka, is key information that could swing support.

Ohio State coach Ryan Day wasn’t about to help the sports-betting community when asked Tuesday about his quartet of injured players. “I’m not going to get into all those guys, but hopefully we’ll have those guys back for Saturday,” Day said. Henderson has missed the past two games. Williams sat against Purdue and Trayanum was injured late in the first quarter against the Boilermakers. “You do have to get creative … ultimately nobody cares (about the injuries),” Day said.

While Egbuka sat out the Purdue game and is certainly an important piece of the Buckeyes’ offensive machine, the nation’s best NFL receiver prospect, Marvin Harrison Jr., is set to cause Penn State all kinds of problems.

QUICK PICK This matchup has the makings of a classic grind, the kind of game in which big plays decide the winner. Harrison Jr., who hauled in six throws for 105 yards and a score in Ohio State’s rout of Purdue, will find plenty of company within a Penn State defensive scheme designed to remove him from the equation.

The Nittany Lions rank first in the nation in pass defense (121.2 yards per game) and total yards (193.7) and second in points (8.0) and rushing yards allowed (72.5). The banged-up Buckeyes rushing attack will be challenged, too, as Penn State has held opponents under 100 rushing yards in five consecutive games. Freshman quarterback Drew Allar, who has been a highly functional steward for the Nittany Lions’ offense (12 touchdown passes with no interceptions on 181 attempts), faces by far his biggest test.

According to Action Network numbers, Ohio State ranks fifth in Passing Success Rate Allowed but 64th in passing explosiveness allowed. That means Allar, the king of checkdowns this season against inferior opponents, will need to take a downfield chance or two. This is his Kyle McCord-Notre Dame moment – a test that McCord passed in leading that last-gasp drive against the Irish. The Penn State rush defense allows only 2.1 yards per carry, so McCord will again have to make a few plays himself. The visitors figure to do just enough on offense to keep this within a field goal, and a splash play from Allard would just about assure a Penn State cover.

The pick: Ohio State 24, Penn State 21.

THEY SAID IT “I feel like we’ve definitely been battle-tested; we’ve played some really good opponents. Offensively, we’ve gotten better each week, gotten more consistent each week, and we just need to keep building on that. We can’t change our routine based on the opponent.”

–Penn State freshman quarterback Drew Allar. –Field Level Media


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