2022 Ohio State University
Undefeated Ohio State will yet again meet their rivals to the west on the gridiron this upcoming Saturday on the Big Noon Kickoff on FOX. Penn State suffered their first loss two weeks ago to "That Team Up North" in a fairly one sided matchup that created the first thread of doubt in the potential of the Nittany Lions this season. However, Penn State was able to rebound with a big win at home against the Minnesota Golden Gophers a week ago in their annual white-out game with well over 100,000 in attendance. Expect another big crowd as this Saturday's matchup is even bigger. While it is not the white-out game, it will be their annual stripe-out game in which Penn State has compiled a record of (5-1) in since 2015.
Ohio State goes into just their second road game of the year and now their second Top 25 matchup of the season. Penn State is ranked No. 13 in the nation and will look to get back into the Top 10 if they can pull off just their fifth win against Ohio State in the 21st century. Penn State's last win in the series came back in 2016 in an upset victory at home that eventually sent Penn State to the Big Ten Championship, their only victory against Ohio State in the last decade of the annual matchup.
The Buckeyes have continued to boast one of the top offenses' in the nation, putting together the beatdown of the Hawkeyes a week ago, totaling 54 points between their offense and defense. Tennessee's offense is now ranked No. 1 after beating up on their in-state FCS opponent in TN-Martin last week, but Ohio State sits directly behind with the No. 2 spot. Thanks to a stellar defensive performance last week, the Silver Bullets defense now ranks Top 5 in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 14.86 points per game. The defense has also allowed the second least amount of redz one attempts from an opposing offenses' this season, as opponents have ran just 11 plays inside the 20 this year. Penn State's defense also ranks inside the Top 20 coming into the week.
This game will more than likely get off to a start slow. Both teams boast strong defense's and will show them off early. Ohio State once more will try hard to establish a run game against Penn State. A strong run game allowed "That Team Up North" to a dominant victory, and Ohio State will follow that blueprint early on to try and gain an advantage. Penn State will begin to load the box late in the first quarter, and this is when Heisman frontrunner C.J. Stroud will begin to open it up to his speedy wide receivers.
Penn State lacks a strong passing game and will look to gain an edge with 5-star freshman Nick Singleton and his strong rushing abilities that have led him to nearly seven yards per carry this season. I expect the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions to each find the endvzone early and end the first quarter in a one score game, favoring Ohio State somewhere in the neighborhood of 14-7.
Penn State will move the ball to about midfield on the ground and then look to air it out every time they have the ball. Parker Washington, their top wideout, has just one receiving touchdown this season, so he is not someone you worry about beating defense's over the top. For Penn State, quarterback Sean Clifford doesn't have the strongest arm, and that is going to stunt Penn State's ability to go for more than 15 yards at once, and big plays have been the only kryptonite against the Buckeyes this year. This will hurt them in the second quarter, as the Buckeyes will begin to establish a rhythm on both sides of the ball. I expect the Buckeyes to begin pulling away, grabbing another two touchdowns and holding Penn State to just a field goal to make it around a 28-10 going into the second half.
Coming out of the break, Penn State will go on an early drive to reach the end zone thanks to a big play out of the backfield, but Ohio State's offense will match with one of their own due to their passing game being nearly unstoppable in this one. The Buckeyes defense will most certainly be ready to play, and after what has been a strong season, they will look to win yet another game this season for the Scarlet and Gray, as I believe they will earn yet another defensive touchdown in this one. They forced two of them a year ago in this game. The offense of the Bucks will thank them, and the Buckeyes will add three third quarter scores to the board, making it around 49-17 with one left in "not so happy' Happy Valley.
Penn State will make one more valiant push towards the end zone and give their fans hope of a comeback before the Buckeyes offense snuffs out the lights with a put-away touchdown that allows the backups time to play with around eight minutes left in the contest.
Score Prediction: OSU wins 56-24
Penn State's defense is the only wild card in this game. They were shredded by the Buckeyes northern rival two weeks ago, but prior to that game, they had not allowed more than 20 points to any team other than Purdue on the road in Week 1. If Penn State plays like they did two weeks ago, this once up and coming rivalry will belong to the Buckeyes by a monster margin, but, if we see the defense that played the rest of the season, then this should once again be an entertaining matchup between neighboring state colleges.
Since the upset in 2016, this has been one of the closest matchups on Ohio State's schedule every year, with the average margin of victory sitting at less than a touchdown at 6.83. The current spread has the Buckeyes favored by 15.5. Ohio State has not beaten Penn State by 16 points in State College since 2015 with a final score that read 38-10.
I have mixed feelings about the spread in this game, as historical data suggests to take Penn State to cover the spread, but current statistical data suggests Ohio State will score on the high side of 40 points this Saturday and hold Penn State below 20. However, Penn State is the second best offense the Buckeyes have seen this season behind Toledo, who mustered up the most points against the defense all year with 21.
There is no doubt Penn State boasts far greater weapons than the Rockets, but Clifford has shown an inability to perform in big games and has not shown the ability to take over a game this season, as he has yet to eclipse 300 yards through the air in any game this season. If I had to choose, I would take Ohio State to cover the spread, as I remain confident the Buckeyes continue the trend of dominance they have shown all season.
The over/under has been set at 61 points. This is a higher mark than three of the last four matchups between these two teams. However, with both teams boasting excellent statistical offense's this year, I feel confident the over shall be reached. 63 points were scored between these two teams when they met in the COVID-19 season of 2020, and both teams have vastly improved their offensive production since then.
Use promo code BELIEVELAND for $20.00 your first ticket purchase with Seat Geek!