Penn State vs Ohio State Best Bets: Our Betting Picks for Saturday’s Spread, Total, Player Props & More
Scott Taetsch & Ben Jackson/Getty Images. Pictured from left: Nick Tarburton #46 of the Penn State Nittany Lions and Miyan Williams #3 of the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Penn State vs Ohio State Odds
|Penn State Odds|
-110o / -110u
|Ohio State Odds|
-110o / -110u
By Dan Keegan
This week’s premier college football game takes us to Happy Valley, where the No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes visit the No. 13 Penn State Nittany Lions.
Ohio State looks incredible this year, with Ryan Day’s outfit rediscovering the physical ground game and stout defense that had been missing from Buckeye teams of recent years.
They have yet to allow a team to score more than 21 points; both Toledo and Wisconsin reached that total, but Ohio State won those games by 56 and 31 points, respectively.
The offense remains best in class; quarterback CJ Stroud has ascended to the top of Heisman Trophy watch lists and NFL Draft boards. He is a technician in the pocket, coolly distributing the ball to an overflowing toy chest of game-breaking skill position players.
Penn State presents an interesting challenge for the Buckeyes. The Nittany Lions were steamrolled two weeks ago by No. 5 Michigan, 41-17, but they match up better with Ohio State.
They struggled mightily with the Wolverines’ bully-ball rushing attack — much like the Buckeyes did in “The Game” last year. But the Nittany Lions defense has a fantastic secondary, as Joey Porter Jr. and Kalen King might be the best cover cornerback combination in the country.
Veteran quarterback Sean Clifford and the Nittany Lions offense will be the key to keeping this game competitive. Clifford has been a “strikes and gutters” quarterback throughout his long Penn State career.
If he can elevate this offense above its 39th-ranked SP+ production, this game could get feisty.
Both teams are looking to prove they can bounce back after getting whipped by Michigan — even if the Buckeyes’ loss came in 2021. Penn State started its redemption tour last week by handling Minnesota, and Ohio State has made the entire 2022 season about reclaiming their rivalry.
Ohio State opened as a two-touchdown favorite at -14 on the road, and the line has ticked up and now sits at -15.5.
Should you trust the Buckeyes to cover the spread, or are there other advantages to find in the game? We polled our team of 11 college football experts to try to find a consensus in this titanic Big Ten East showdown. Let’s get to their analysis and best plays.
Penn State vs Ohio State Point Spread
Ohio State -15.5
The Ohio State offense has been absolutely electric this season, and it enters Saturday’s game in Beaver Stadium as the second-ranked scoring offense in the country, putting up an average of 49.6 points per game.
The Buckeyes are insanely deep, with a top-five recruiting classes in each of the last three years. On offense, Ohio State has four midseason All-Americans: quarterback C.J. Stroud, wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr., tackle Paris Johnson and wide receiver Emeka Egbuka.
The Buckeye offense has extremely efficient this season, ranking fourth in the nation in Offensive Success Rate. The efficiency has translated to points, as Ohio State is the only team in nation with perfect red-zone efficiency, scoring on all 36 red-zone trips this season.
The trench have been the foundation of Ohio State’s prowess on offense, allowing plenty of time for Stroud to read his progressions and giving up the fourth-fewest sacks in the nation.
The excellent protection up front has enabled the Buckeyes to hit big plays all season. Ohio State leads the nation with 7.77 yards per play.
The Penn State defense has underperformed relative to early-season expectations. After getting giving up 365 passing yards to Purdue in the first game of the season and then getting throttled by Michigan’s running game, the Nittany Lions have shown susceptibility to both the run and pass.
Coming into Saturday’s game, Penn State ranks a middle-of-the-road 62nd nationally in rushing defense (140.29 yards/game) and 79th (232.0 yards/game) in the nation in passing defense.
Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford bounced back last week against Minnesota after getting benched in the Michigan game, going 23-for-31 for 295 yards, four touchdowns and one pick.
Clifford will be facing a whole new beast in the Buckeyes’ second-ranked 4-2-5 squad that has been allowed just 239.9 yards per game.
While these games have been very close in recent years, the fact that this is a noon game will lessen the hostility of the environment. This is the first non-night game in the series since 2012.
This matchup doesn’t favor Penn State, and I expect a reversion to the mean for Clifford after last weekend’s gangbusters outing.
This is a lot of chalk to lay in a contentious rivalry game, but the elite Ohio State offense will be too much for the pedestrian Penn State defense. Look for the equally talented Ohio State defense to shut Clifford and the Nittany Lions down.
Lay the 15.5 in what will amount to a long afternoon in Happy Valley. Play this to 17.
Penn State vs Ohio State Over/Under
Fresh-face defensive coordinator Jim Knowles has made his presence felt during his first season with the Buckeyes. Knowles, a purveyor of the 4-2-5 defense, leads the second-ranked Ohio State defense that’s allowing just 239.9 yards per game.
On the scoreboard, the Buckeyes defense is allowing just 14.9 points per game (5th) and ranks first in the nation in fewest first downs allowed.
The 46th-ranked Penn State rushing offense that features freshman running backs Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen — the bright spots so far this season — will have a very tough time gaining traction.
The Penn State defense has an interesting statistical dichotomy that has appeared this season, ranking 20th in the nation in scoring defense but 63rd nationally in total defense. The Nittany Lions are giving up 373.1 yards per game but are allowing opposing offenses to score only 18.9 points per game.
When it counts, the Penn State defense has been very good. The Nittany Lions rank 22nd nationally in defensive points per opportunity, allowing just 3.25 points when the ball has been advanced past their 40-yard line.
For this matchup, the Buckeyes don’t need to look any further than the masterclass Michigan put on against Penn State, gouging the Nittany Lions for 418 yards on the ground. Penn State couldn’t stop the run and had the ball for only 18:04 during that game.
The Buckeyes will come out with a ground-and-pound attack, daring James Franklin and the Nittany Lions to prove they’ve bolstered the rushing defense.
Stroud and the Buckeye offense are definitely a strong consideration to this bet and could be the reason it goes wrong, but the countervailing forces outweigh what Stroud and his excellent supporting cast can do.
The Penn State defense, while not elite, will be able to do enough to stymie the high-powered Ohio State offense into swapping a couple of touchdowns for field goals.
Look for Ohio State to run the ball heavily, chewing up lots of clock and keeping the under in the money.
Ohio State 2H Team Total Over 17.5 (+105)
The blueprint for matching up against Penn State is out there for the taking. Ohio State head coach and the Buckeye staff just need to pull the tape from the stomping that Michigan gave Penn State a couple of weeks ago.
Penn State was ripped apart by the Michigan ground game with the Wolverines picking up 418 yards and four touchdowns while cruising to victory. The Penn State defense provided some resistance in the beginning, but the onslaught was just too much in the later stages of the game.
The Ohio State running back corps doesn’t have a clear No. 1 due to injuries and some depth issues, but the Buckeyes are still averaging 5.56 yards per carry, which ranks 13th in the nation.
OSU has one of the best offensive lines in the country, with the hogs up front ranked tied for third nationally in tackles for loss and quarterback sacks allowed.
The Buckeyes will come out running the ball in this game, and while they may not have a clear leader out of the backfield, the offensive line is one of the best in the nation.
A heavier emphasis on the running attack will likely lead to a slower start but will exhaust the opposing defense and chew clock in the first half.
I expect the Buckeyes to find their stride in the later stages of the game, either on the ground against a tired defense or behind CJ Stroud’s arm against a weary secondary.
I’m projecting Ohio State to score at least 21 points in the second half. Take the over as Ohio State will find its rhythm in the second half.
Pick: Ohio State 2H Team Total Over 17.5 (+105 · Play to 18)
Sean Clifford Under 253.5 Passing + Rushing Yards
Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford is coming off of his best game of the season last week against Minnesota, going 23-for-31 for 295 yards, four touchdowns and one interception.
While things went well for Clifford and the Nittany Lions last week, the sixth-year quarterback was coming off of a benching effort against Michigan previously in which he went 7-of-19 for 120 yards passing before being replaced. Clifford did bust a huge run in the matchup, finishing with 74 rushing yards.
On the season, Clifford is averaging 206.4 yards passing per game and 20.1 yards on the ground for a combined total of 226.5 yards per game passing and rushing.
We already have nearly 30 yards of cushion based on the posted number, and we haven’t even gotten to the Buckeyes defense.
The Ohio State defense is special, ranking second in the nation in total defense (239.9 yards allowed per game) and fifth in the nation in scoring defense (14.9 points allowed per game).
Clifford will have a very hard time sniffing a modicum of the productivity he saw last week.
In seven games this season, Ohio State has been amazing against opposing quarterbacks, allowing an average of 131 yards passing and rushing to opposing starters. That’s a buffer of over 120 yards to the set number for Clifford.
Only one quarterback has gone over 200 yards combined passing and rushing against the Buckeyes this season when Toledo quarterback Dequan Finn combined for 223 yard on the ground and in the air.
This number is way too high for Clifford heading into a rivalry game featuring one of the top defenses in the country. Sell high on Clifford after last week’s strong performance heading into this Happy Valley showdown.