Penn State vs. Ohio State odds, prediction, betting trends for Big Ten showdown

No. 20 Penn State travels to No. 5 Ohio State for a Big Ten East showdown on Saturday. 

Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. The game will be televised on ABC. 

Penn State (5-2) is coming off a 20-18 nine-overtime loss against Illinois. Sean Clifford is back at quarterback for the Nittany Lions. The defense has allowed just 14.7 points per game. Coach James Franklin’s future is a popular topic, and those rumors will only pick up if Penn State loses this game. 

Ohio State (6-1) has found its stride. The Buckeyes lead the FBS in scoring offense (49.3) and total offense (559.7). C.J. Stroud, TreVeyon Henderson, Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson are all game-breakers in the offense, and the defense has improved since the 35-28 loss to Oregon on Sept. 11. 

The Nittany Lions have been the best challenge for the Buckeyes on the field the last four seasons, so it should be a fun prime-time game. With that in mind, here is all you need to know about betting on the Penn State-Ohio State  matchup: 

Penn State vs. Ohio State odds 

Three trends to know  

— Ohio State is 21-0 in Big Ten play under third-year coach Ryan Day. The Buckeyes have outscored opponents 994-244 in those games. The Buckeyes have covered the spread in their last four games as heavy favorites. 

— The Buckeyes have won the last four meetings against Penn State by an average of 6.5 points per game (and have beaten all other Big Ten East opponents by an average of 33.1 points since 2017). The Nittany Lions have not won at Ohio Stadium since 2011. 

— Penn State is 1-3 ATS in its last four games. The Nittany Lions are 2-9 S/U as road underdogs since Franklin took over in 2014. They are 5-6 ATS in those games. 

Three things to watch  

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— Will Penn State’s secondary hold up? The Nittany Lions have a strong secondary led by Ji’Ayir Brown, Joey Porter Jr., Tariq Castro-Fields and safety Jaquan Brisker. Penn State has allowed just four passing TDs all season, and those three have combined for six interceptions. This is the best secondary Stroud has faced this season, and they have to create turnovers for the Nittany Lions to have a chance. 

— Ohio State’s big-play receivers. That secondary might be good, but Ohio State stresses a defense with three receivers that average at least 16 yards per catch. Jaxon Smith-Njigba (19.0), Garrett Wilson (16.8) and Chris Olave (16.2) present problems all over the field for defenses, and you can’t forget about tight end Jeremy Ruckert (11.3). Even freshman receiver Emeka Egbuka (24.2) is making plays. 

— Sean Clifford’s big chance. Clifford returned from an arm injury last week, but it did not matter in the loss to the Illini. In four Big Ten games this year, Clifford is 69 of 129 (53.5%) with five TDs and three interceptions. That level of play will not beat the Buckeyes. Wide receiver Jahan Dotson had a break-out performance against Ohio State last season, and Parker Washington is a capable No. 2. They need to make plays in the passing game early to open up a so-so running game led by Keyvone Lee and Noah Cain. 

Stat that matters

Ohio State freshman running back TreVeyon Henderson averages 8.8 yards per carry with 11 TDs, and he has one game with at least 20 carries this season. Day has done a nice job managing that workload, and the average distance of Henderson’s TD runs is 22 yards. He is a game-breaker that has changed the entire dynamic of the Buckeyes’ offense.

Penn State vs. Ohio State prediction 

Ohio State embarrassed Penn State in prime-time home games in a 63-14 blowout in 2013 and 38-10 victory in 2015. The recipe for another blowout is there, but the Buckeyes haven’t seen a defense this good since the Oregon game. Clifford has to protect the football, and the Nittany Lions must absorb the first punch. Look for Ohio State to hit a couple big-hit TDs in the second quarter, and that kick-starts another run-of-the-mill victory just in time for the first CFP rankings. 

Final score: Ohio State 42, Penn State 21

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