Ohio vs. Penn State Odds, Picks, Predictions: Will Nittany Lions Crush Bobcats on Saturday?
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images. Pictured: Keyvone Lee (Penn State)
Ohio vs. Penn State Odds
Coming off of a thrilling road primetime victory over conference foe Purdue last Thursday, Sean Clifford and Penn State return home to take on Ohio this week.
Ohio had a strong offense last season and started off this season with a win over Florida Atlantic. But the Bobcats will have their hands full with Penn State.
Ohio’s offense was its strongest unit in 2021, ranking 48th in the country in Success Rate on the back of its 34th-ranked rushing offense. Five starters return to the Bobcats’ offense, including quarterback Kurtis Rourke.
Last week against FAU, Ohio’s offense picked up where it left off a season ago, with 0.23 EPA/Play and a 50% Success Rate. These both rank in the 98th percentile and are very impressive numbers.
Unfortunately for the Bobcats, Florida Atlantic has a much weaker defense than Penn State, and they will most definitely have a tougher time finding the end zone this week.
As mentioned earlier, Ohio’s offense was relatively successful last year, but most of its damage was done in the running game. Fast forward to this year, and Ohio is without its top two rushers and two experienced offensive linemen.
The talent differential between the two teams will be felt the most in the trenches, where Penn State should likely dominate.
I know that Rourke put up some big numbers against FAU last week (0.44 EPA/Play), but without the Bobcats’ strong running game from last year, I don’t see how they will be able to truly challenge the Nittany Lions.
The weak point in this matchup is Ohio’s defense. Against a MAC schedule, Ohio ranked 111th in Success Rate on defense last year and was 125th in Defensive Success Rate on Passing Plays.
The good news is that nine starters return on defense, with 17 players having some starting experience.
The bad news is that they did not show any improvement last week against a Florida Atlantic team that doesn’t have nearly the athletes on offense that Penn State does.
The Owls’ offense ranked 81st in Success Rate last year, and while many of those players returned, you would have expected Ohio’s defense to do a bit better.
This spells trouble for the Bobcats. Penn State’s offense was not stellar last season, but that was against tough Big Ten defenses.
Against a MAC team, Penn State will have the size and talent advantages needed to do whatever it wants to on offense.
Part of my reasoning for picking Purdue last week was the departures of Arnold Ebiketie and Jaquan Brisker from this Penn State defense, as well as Clifford being an enigma at quarterback.
The Penn State defense was a very good unit last year, ranking 32nd in Success Rate overall and 16th in Success Rate against the pass.
Despite allowing 31 points, Penn State’s defense wasn’t too bad on Thursday. It allowed only 5.26 yards per play and plugged up the Purdue rushing attack, allowing -0.21 EPA/Rush.
Through the air, Purdue did have some success — with 0.12 EPA per drop back (67th percentile) — but its passing attack is much more potent than the one that Penn State will be facing this weekend.
Manny Diaz is the new defensive coordinator in State College, coming over from Miami. With only four starters returning on defense from a season ago, there may be a slight adjustment period while the Nittany Lions get their new faces some playing experience.
The Nittany Lions’ offense should have a hay day this weekend. Purdue had a very solid defense in 2021, and Penn State was able to have a good amount of success against it. Even though PSU’s offense was not great last year, facing a poor Ohio defense should do wonders for Clifford’s stat line.
Ohio vs. Penn State Betting Pick
James Franklin has had a propensity to run scores up in the past against inferior opponents. Ohio’s defense will likely not prevent Penn State from scoring for most of the day on Saturday.
My heart wants to say that Ohio has a fighting chance to hang around in this one and score some points, but I don’t believe in Rourke enough. His first game of the season was masterful, but this step up in opponent will make his life difficult.
With the Bobcats having a disadvantage in the trenches and with their turnover in the run game, my faith that their offense will be able to truly challenge Penn State is low.
My initial reaction to this game was to take the over. But with the strength of Ohio’s offense being neutralized, I’m concerned about that hitting. Penn State should be able to score around 40 points and control this game, though.