Our college football betting writer brings you his best Ohio State vs. Penn State predictions and picks for their Week 9 showdown, which is live Saturday at 12 p.m. EST on Fox.
It should be the game of the week in college football — and by far the toughest test the Buckeyes have faced to date — when No. 2 Ohio State heads to Happy Valley to play No. 13 Penn State.
Ohio State vs. Penn State picks
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Ohio State vs. Penn State picks and analysis
The Buckeyes (7-0) appeared to start the year with a delectable non-conference matchup against then-No. 5 Notre Dame, a game Ohio State won 21-10. But Notre Dame has fallen from relevance to mediocrity since then, so it can hardly count as a signature win.
Ohio State has stomped on four straight Big Ten teams enduring tough seasons — Wisconsin, Rutgers, Michigan State, Iowa — and three of those games were in Columbus. This week’s trip is a chance for the Buckeyes to answer critics who say they “haven’t played anyone yet.” The Nittany Lions (6-1) bounced back from their first loss of the season, 41-17 to then-No. 5 Michigan, by racing past Minnesota 45-17.
Penn State +15
The Buckeyes have taken the past five meetings with the Nittany Lions and nine of the past 10, but you have to go back to 2015 to find the last time Ohio State truly routed Penn State.
On this five-game winning streak, Ohio State has won by margins of nine, 13, 11, one and one. And in 2016, Penn State got the better of the Buckeyes, 24-21 in State College.
To list Penn State as a 15-point home underdog during a year in which it’s playing very solid football is rather over the top.
The Nittany Lions are also healthier, at least marginally, than the Buckeyes. Yes, Clifford got banged up against Michigan, but he returned to form against Minnesota. Ohio State is not at full force as it likely will keep top receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba on a “pitch count” and could be without senior cornerback Cameron Brown.
Pick: Penn State to cover +15 @ -110 (Caesars Sportsbook)
TreVeyon Henderson over 0.5 rushing touchdowns
Penn State’s downfall against Michigan was its run defense.
The Nittany Lions could only contain Heisman Trophy candidate Blake Corum for so long, and he ripped off a 61-yard rushing touchdown in the second half, finishing with 166 yards and two touchdowns. Donovan Edwards added 173 yards and two touchdowns, including a 67-yarder in the second half.
Penn State is surely honing in on the experienced Ohio State backfield of TreVeyon Henderson, Miyan Williams and Emeka Egbuka. The Lions can’t forget about C.J. Stroud either, of course, but they won’t want to be literally run over by another Big Ten big brother.
Williams has racked up nine touchdowns already, inflated by a five-TD performance against Rutgers. But both he and Henderson have missed time with injuries and they played together last week against Iowa for the first time since Sept. 24. When the two are both available, Henderson tends to receive a larger share of the carries – and, therefore, more chances to score.
Pick: Ohio State RB TreVeyon Henderson over 0.5 rushing touchdowns @ -113 (Caesars Sportsbook)
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Parker Washington under 57.5 receiving yards
Clifford has spread the ball around for a diverse Penn State passing attack. Five different players have more than 100 receiving yards this season and nine different players have caught a touchdown pass.
Against Minnesota last week, receiver Parker Washington took his turn in the spotlight, leading the Nittany Lions with seven catches, gaining 70 yards and scoring his first touchdown of the year.
But while Ohio State could be missing Brown in its secondary, it is getting healthier in that particular area. Cornerback Jordan Hancock returned from injury to make a solid season debut against Iowa, and safety Josh Proctor will return after missing that game with an illness.
Between that and Clifford’s preference not to over-feed any one particular target, the wise play is to take the under for Washington’s receiving yards.
Pick: Penn State WR Parker Washington to have under 57.5 receiving yards @ -119 (Caesars Sportsbook)
Ohio State vs. Penn State odds
Odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook. Correct at time of publishing and subject to change.
|Team||Spread||Money line||Total Points 60.5|
|Ohio State||(-15) -110||-600||Over -110|
|Penn State||(+15) -110||+430||Under -110|
This story originally appeared on NYPost