Ohio State vs. Penn State

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No. 2 Ohio State meets No. 13 Penn State in the noon window on Saturday in what has come to be recognized each season as one of the more pivotal games in the Big Ten East race. Though this could prove to be the stiffest test yet for Ohio State, this is also a matchup that has seen the Buckeyes come out on the better end more often than not in recent years.

Ohio State has won five straight and 16 of the last 20 meetings, including a 33-24 win at Ohio Stadium last season. This season the Buckeyes enter with an undefeated record in Big Ten play and some first-place votes in the AP Top 25. Meanwhile, this game is already a must-win for the Nittany Lions. They rebounded nicely last week with a 45-17 win over Minnesota, but the 41-17 loss to Michigan removed any room for error if Penn State wants to win the Big Ten. A loss here would not only give the Lions two losses, but Michigan and Ohio State — the two teams it would be chasing — would have the tiebreaker.

It’s a massive showdown with Big Ten title and College Football Playoff implications.

Ohio State vs. Penn State: Need to know

Penn State plays Ohio State tougher than most: While the Buckeyes have dominated the series for the last couple of decades, that’s the case for Ohio State against most other Big Ten teams. The difference in this series is that the Buckeyes rarely blow out the Nittany Lions. While it’s not the best way to measure things, it does say a lot that Penn State has covered the spread in five of the last six meetings, and one of those five was Penn State’s 24-21 win in 2016. Ohio State’s five wins since that game have been by an average of only seven points each, including one-point wins in 2017 and 2018.

Ohio State’s defense has taken a step forward:

The Buckeyes offense gets plenty of attention for good reason, but the biggest difference in Ohio State this season has been on the defensive side of the ball. After struggling in that area over the last few seasons, the Buckeyes defense ranks second nationally in total defense, fifth in points allowed per game, sixth in success rate and second in pressure rate. It’s hard to argue that the hiring of Jim Knowles as defensive coordinator hasn’t been the biggest acquisition of the offseason for Ryan Day’s program, and it’s paying immediate dividends.

When Penn State can run the ball, it’s hard to stop:

Penn State is 5-1 on the season, but it’s at its best when it’s able to run the ball. Penn State averaged 5.89 yards per carry in comfortable wins over Ohio, Auburn, Central Michigan and Minnesota, but only 3.83 yards per carry in close calls to Purdue and Northwestern, as well as the loss to Michigan. When Penn State runs the ball, it makes everything easier for all involved, particularly QB Sean Clifford. When it can’t, Clifford is forced to carry the load on his own and the offense struggles.

How to watch Ohio State vs. Penn State live

Date: Saturday, October 29 | Time: 12 p.m. ET
Location: Beaver Stadium — University Park, Pennsylvania
TV: Fox |Online streaming: fuboTV (Try for free.)

team logo Ohio State watch now.png – Just Cause 2 Mods Penn State team logo

Ohio State vs. Penn State prediction, picks

As I mentioned earlier, Penn State is at its best when it can run the ball. I also mentioned Ohio State’s defense being incredible this season, and I think the Buckeyes will limit what Penn State does on the ground. That limits Penn State’s offensive ceiling. But I also think Penn State matches up better with Ohio State on the defensive end than most other teams, and it could force the Buckeyes to turn to the run game more than usual. So if I’m betting anything here, I’m taking the under. Prediction: Under 61

By Toffee

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