Ohio State-Penn State Betting Guide: Public Too High on Nittany Lions?

Ohio State-Penn State Betting Guide: Public Too High on Nittany Lions? article feature image
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USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Trace McSorley and Dwayne Haskins

Ohio State-Penn State Betting Pick, Odds

  • Odds: Ohio State -3.5
  • Over/Under: 69
  • Time: 7:30 p.m. ET, Saturday
  • TV Channel: ABC

>> All odds as of 6 a.m. ET on Friday. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and track your bets.


A Whiteout in Happy Valley on Saturday night. There’s not much like it.

Ohio State has dominated this series of late, although it needed a crazy comeback to beat PSU last year and double overtime in 2014 before it won the national title. If not for a late blocked punt in 2016, the Buckeyes would have a six-game winning streak in this series and five in a row in Happy Valley.

The last two meetings have been decided by four total points, but the 12 previous were all decided by six points or more.

Market Moves for Ohio State-Penn State

By Danny Donahue

This line opened at Ohio State -3 at Wynn, which lasted only two minutes before being pushed up. It opened offshore at -4.

Soon after its offshore opening, however, sharp bettors hit the Nittany Lions to bring this line down to 3.5 and 3 — where it’s remained since. Penn State is drawing only 38% of bets and 42% of dollars.

The over has been the more popular bet on the total, attracting 60% of bets and 75% of dollars. As a result, the number has moved from 65 all the way to 72 before dropping back to 69.5.

Trends to Know

By John Ewing

This is just the ninth regular-season game since 2005 between a pair of top-10 teams to feature an over/under of 70 or more points. In the previous eight games, the over went 6-2.

By Evan Abrams

Penn State enters this game 4-0 straight up, with all four of its games going over the total.

Since 2005, only 61 teams have played a game undefeated to the over as a home underdog, and those teams are 40-21 ATS (+17.2 units), including 136-107-6 ATS (+21.2 units) at any site.

When those teams face an opponent that is also undefeated, they are 94-70-4 ATS (+19 units).

By Stuckey

Urban Meyer owns a career 26-16-1 (61.9%) ATS record against ranked opponents since 2005. He has been the most profitable head coach to back over that span, although he is only 3-3 ATS against Penn State.

He also owns an ultra-impressive 30-13 SU record in those ranked games.

Key Injuries

By Stuckey

Ohio State will not have All-American defensive end Nick Bosa, but it has depth at the position and will likely get interior lineman Robert Landers back from injury this week.

Running back Mike Weber is also listed on the injury report, but J.K. Dobbins is the better back, and the Buckeyes have so much depth in the backfield.

It also looks like Penn State will still be without Shane Simmons (DE), who has yet to play this year, as he wasn’t listed on initial depth chart.

Keep an eye on CB Donovan Johnson (listed as questionable) who got hurt against Illinois. He’s an important piece on the PSU defense as the nickel corner.

Key Metrics

By Steve Petrella

Penn State has been average against the run, ranking in the bottom half of FBS in nearly every advanced metric. The Nittany Lions are giving up 4.04 yards per carry (dead middle at tied for 66th in FBS) against a weak schedule.

Ohio State has relied more on quarterback Dwayne Haskins to move the ball, but still ranks in the top half of FBS in most rushing categories. Both Weber and Dobbins are averaging 5.8 yards per carry.


Ohio State’s average third-down distance is 5.7 yards, the fourth-best rate in the country. Penn State ranks 10th on defense in that category at 9.0 yards (higher is better on defense, of course). The Nittany Lions give up the third-fewest percentage of third-and-short opportunities in the country, as well.

The Buckeyes offense will roll if it can convert third downs, but that’s no sure thing.

By Stuckey

Penn State has benefited from an average of 95 yards of opponent penalties year to date, tops in the FBS. For comparison, Ohio State’s opponents have averaged 54 yards per game.

Don’t expect that disparity to persist, although Ohio State has averaged 74.5 penalty yards per game (112th in the nation).

Are We Overvaluing Penn State?

By Stuckey

Let’s not get too carried away with this Penn State team for pouring it on against inferior opponents in the fourth quarter. Let’s not forget that it needed overtime at home to defeat Appalachian State.

Since then, the perception of Penn State has shifted tremendously in a positive direction, but who have the Nittany Lions actually beat? Take a look at each team’s yards per play rank on offense and defense.

Color me not impressed. This will be a major step up in competition against an Ohio State team that’s tied with Georgia with a top-10 yards per play number of 7.6.

Despite its soft schedule, Penn State has still allowed 4.0 yards per carry (66th in nation). I think Ohio State will have success on the ground with Dobbins and company against an inexperienced PSU linebacking crew, forcing the Penn State safeties up to help.

That will ultimately lead to a number of explosive plays in the passing game against a Nittany Lions team that lost a lot of production on the backend from last season.

Again despite that soft schedule, Penn State has a meager 59.0% completion percentage after four games (99th in the country). For comparison, Ohio State leads the nation at 76.9%.

With the same quarterback under center, Penn State finished tied for ninth in 2017 at 65.7% after a full conference schedule. The Nittany Lions miss former offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead, as the offense still lacks rhythm.

I have Ohio State as 10 points better than Penn State on a neutral field, which is in line with our Action Network Power Ratings. That would imply this line should be approximately Ohio State -6 after giving the Nittany Lions four points for home-field advantage.

Anything at -4 or less provides value on the Buckeyes in my opinion.

Look to Bet Ohio State-Penn State Live

By Collin Wilson

There are plenty of advanced stats to break down between these two heavyweights.

The trench play will be power on power, but expect Miles Sanders to get his rushing chunks on the ground for Penn State. The Nittany Lions rank 26th in explosiveness on the ground, and that could be worrisome for an Ohio State defense that is rotating players in the absence of Nick Bosa (and look what Oregon State did to the Buckeyes).

Ohio State ranks 105th in defensive IsoPPP (an explosiveness measure), which will lead to plenty of opportunities for quarterback Trace McSorley.

The Ohio State offense may run into a few roadblocks, as the Penn State front seven is 17th in stuff rate. When Haskins takes to the air, don’t expect much deep as Penn State ranks ninth in defending pass explosiveness.

Ohio State offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson may dial up plenty of short routes in hopes for yards-after-catch results. The Buckeyes have been one of the best teams in the nation from third downs of all distances.

With all that said, I will not have an official play on the game in The Action Network App, but I will be heavily wagering on the side and total live through a few offshore books.

In 2016 and 2017, this matchup had fourth-quarter comeback victories. I would not be surprised to see either team score three straight times in the 2018 edition, which could give you live value.

Keep your live betting fingers stretched with a beverage and settle in to get both sides +200 or +7 live.