Saturday night’s game between No. 18 Penn State and No. 3 Ohio State isn’t going to look quite like anything you might expect. Typically, when Penn State’s hosting a game in primetime, we can expect a White Out. Beaver Stadium would be packed with over 100,000 ravenous fans rooting on the Nittany Lions. Instead, the venue will be mostly empty.
Also, this is supposed to be a matchup of top 10 teams that were the Big Ten’s favorites to not only win the conference but represent it in the College Football Playoff. Well, after Penn State suffered an upset loss on the road against Indiana last weekend, the Nittany Lions enter this game with their backs already against the wall. An 0-2 start to the season with a loss to Ohio State would eliminate them from division contention for all practical purposes.
Still, even if things will look and feel a bit different, there’s a lot on the line. Penn State can salvage its season with an upset win, or Ohio State can solidify its position as the Big Ten’s premier program. To do so, it will have to get past a Penn State team that’s consistently given it more trouble than anybody else within the conference. Ohio State’s won the last three meetings, but it’s done so by a total of only 13 points.
Game day storylines
Ohio State: You know how you’re not driving as often as you used to these days because of the pandemic, and when you start your car it might sound like it’s coughing a bit to clear things up before it gets moving? That was Ohio State last week against Nebraska. It took the car a moment to get warmed up, but once it did, it played like the well-oiled machine to which you’ve grown accustomed. The Buckeyes are the class of the Big Ten and looked the part last week, and this is one of the biggest tests on their schedule in 2020. This is a team that will be looking to make an emphatic statement on Saturday.
Penn State: Penn State wasn’t supposed to be 0-1 heading into this game, but that’s the situation it finds itself in thanks to its own mistakes and a questionable call or two. The Nittany Lions can’t allow Indiana to beat them twice, though, and must shake off any disappointment from that game before stepping on the field against the Buckeyes. Penn State would prefer to have over 100,000 fans in the stands for this one, but you almost wonder if playing in an empty stadium and coming off a loss might be what this team needs to feel a little less pressure on Saturday night. It could allow them to focus solely on the task at hand.
Date: Saturday, Oct. 31 | Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Beaver Stadium — State College, Pennsylvania
TV: ABC | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Ohio State vs. Penn State pick
Ohio State -12 | O/U 64
Odds via William Hill Sportsbook
I don’t think this line would be so large had Penn State not lost to Indiana, but even so, I can’t pull the trigger on the Lions here. It’s pretty simple for me. While Penn State has a talented roster, it’s short at the running back spot, and the difference between these teams at the quarterback position is too vast. Sean Clifford is a perfectly suitable player for Penn State, but Justin Fields is in a different stratosphere, and that advantage will play out over 60 minutes. Lay the points. Pick: Ohio State (-12)
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