The Big Ten is getting the prime-time treatment for the second straight weekend with a big-time matchup on Halloween.
No. 3 Ohio State travels to No. 18 Penn State at 7:30 p.m. for the ABC “Game of the Week.” It’s a matchup that has carried huge Big Ten and College Football Playoff implications each of the past four seasons.
The Buckeyes were as advertised in a 52-17 season-opening victory against Nebraska. Justin Fields is among the Heisman Trophy favorites, and second-year coach Ryan Day has yet to lose a conference game.
The Nittany Lions are looking to bounce back after a 36-35 overtime loss at Indiana in the opener. Penn State won’t have the advantage of a “Whiteout” either, but Penn State will have a chance if it can clean up the mistakes from that loss to the Hoosiers.
It’s an exciting Big Ten matchup in a shortened season. With that in mind, here’s a full look at the top-five showdown.
Ohio State vs. Penn State odds
Spread: Ohio State –12.5
Point spread odds: Ohio State –110, Penn State –110
The Buckeyes are heavy favorites. The line jumped up from its open at eight points and could be near 14 points by kickoff.
Ohio State vs. Penn State all-time series
Ohio State leads the all-time series 21-13, and the Buckeyes have won the past three meetings. This marks the 21st meeting in which both teams are ranked. Ohio State is 13-7 in those games.
The Buckeyes are 8-6 all time at Penn State.
Three trends to know
— The Buckeyes are 13-5 ATS with Day as head coach, and they are 4-1 ATS as a home favorite. Ohio State covered in Week 1 against the Huskers.
— The Nittany Lions are 11-8 ATS as an underdog under Franklin since 2014, and that includes 4-2 ATS record as a home underdog.
— Ohio State has won the past three meetings by a combined total of 13 points. The Nittany Lions beat the Buckeyes 24-21 in 2016.
Three things to watch
— Pressure and contain. Fields was nearly flawless in the opener for Ohio State. He finished 20 of 21 for 276 yards and two passing TDs. He added 15 carries for 54 yards and a TD. The Nittany Lions can’t just get pressure. They have to finish the sacks when they do have opportunities to get to Fields. Penn State had four sacks in the opener, and Shaka Toney had a pair of sacks in the fourth quarter.
— Penn State’s running game. The Nittany Lions won’t have Journey Brown or Noah Cain, so it’s on Devyn Ford — who rushed for 69 yards and an ill-fated TD against the Hoosiers in the opener — to keep the running game going. Quarterback Sean Clifford added 17 carries for 119 yards and a TD. Nebraska rushed for 210 yards on 5.8 yards per carry against the Buckeyes. Penn State can have success on the ground if it can avoid an early knockout punch.
— Big-play receivers. Both teams have excellent skill-position talent on the perimeter. Penn State’s Jahan Dotson had four catches for 94 yards and a TD against Indiana, and tight end Pat Freiermuth can be a mismatch in the middle of the field. The Ohio State tandem of Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave both cleared 100 yards in the opener against Nebraska, and five-star freshman Julian Fleming returns to his home state. This is a showcase for NFL pass-catching talent on both sides.
Stat that matters
That’s the combined total score of the past three fourth quarters between the teams. Penn State blew double-digit leads against the Buckeyes in 2017 and 2018. Ohio State held Penn State scoreless in the fourth quarter in last year’s victory. The games have been close in recent seasons, but the Buckeyes have been better at closing time.
Penn State is backed into a corner, and the Nittany Lions can hang around in this game if the turnovers and special teams mistakes that led to their undoing against the Hoosiers don’t resurface. The Nittany Lions hang around in the first half, but they can’t do enough to disrupt Fields and the Ohio State passing game. Master Teague and Trey Sermon are better in this game, and the Buckeyes pile on in the fourth quarter to take control of the Big Ten East race.
Ohio State 48, Penn State 21
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