Ohio State vs. Penn State: Prediction, pick, odds, line, point spread, football game, kickoff time, preview
The Big Ten East is on the line in Columbus this weekend
Date: Saturday, Nov. 23 | Time: Noon ET
Location: Ohio Stadium — Columbus, Ohio
TV: FOX | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Throughout its history, the Big Ten has been dominated by two teams. No. 2 Ohio State and No. 13 Michigan have traditionally been those two teams. Well, as Bob Dylan once sang, the times they are a-changing. Ohio State has held on to its spot as the conference’s premier program in recent years, but it’s No. 8 Penn State that has emerged as its biggest challenger. Since the Big Ten expanded to 14 schools and split into East and West Divisions in 2014, a team from the East has won the conference title every season. Ohio State has won the last two, with Penn State winning it in 2016.
It’s no coincidence that 2016 is the last time Penn State beat Ohio State, either. The winner of this game has gone on to win the East and the conference in each of the last three seasons. This year doesn’t appear to be any different. Ohio State is currently atop the division with a 7-0 record. Penn State is a game behind at 6-1, but a Penn State win would give the Nittany Lions a tiebreaker. A tiebreaker that would likely hold up considering they finish the regular season with Rutgers.
So who wins this battle of top 10 teams playing for just about everything in Columbus on Saturday? Let’s take a closer look at the matchup and storylines coming in as well as make some picks both straight up and against the spread.
Ohio State: Rare is the team that runs roughshod through an entire season without being tested. Ohio State enters this game with a 10-0 record, and has won its games by an average of 41.7 points per game. The closest games the Buckeyes have had were two 24-point victories. One was a 45-21 win over FAU in the season opener that saw the Buckeyes jump out to a 28-0 lead in the first 10 minutes. The other was a 34-10 win over Michigan State that Ohio State led 27-10 at halftime. There have been no bumps in the road, but this will be the start of a tough stretch for the Buckeyes. They finish the season with Penn State, Michigan and then a Big Ten title game if they manage to win their division (a win over Penn State clinches the division). Is this the week the Buckeyes are challenged, or will it be another contest that’s over by halftime, further cementing their status as one of the country’s elite teams?
Penn State: Penn State might be ranked No. 8 in the country at the moment, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t without its fair share of doubters. While the Nittany Lions are 9-1, it’s not the same type of dominant run that we’ve seen from Ohio State. It includes narrow wins over Pitt, Iowa and Michigan. It also includes a close loss on the road to Minnesota. A loss that was followed up with a seven-point win at home against Indiana last week. Now, Indiana is better than most realize, and it’s possible Penn State was caught looking ahead a bit, but it’s a team that has looked a little shaky at times. Of course, it’s also a team that has played very well against Ohio State in recent seasons, and should not be counted out. This is a team with a lot left to play for, and beating Ohio State would quiet a lot of doubters.
Penn State’s play in recent weeks made this spread a lot larger than I was hoping for, but I’m still leaning the Buckeyes direction. It’s a bit scary to lay the points here, but I believe Ohio State is just that much better than nearly every other team in the country. Penn State can win this game, and it can definitely cover, but I think the Buckeyes cover more often than not. Of course, keep in mind that while Ohio State has won each of the last two meetings, each win came by a single point. So there might not be a wrong answer when it comes to picking this spread. Pick: Ohio State (-18.5)