Ohio State vs. Penn State NCAAF Week 9 Top Picks: Will Buckeyes Be Challenged?

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The marquee matchup around college football in Week 9 is from the Big Ten as No. 2 Ohio State visits No. 13 Penn State.

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Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Penn State Nittany Lions 

Saturday, October 29, 2022 – 12:00 PM EDT at Beaver Stadium 

Ohio State vs. Penn State Analysis

FOX has the telecast of this crucial Big Ten East Division matchup. It’s easily the toughest road game on Ohio State’s schedule – the Nuts only play four games away.

I’m pretty sure OSU is going to run the regular-season table, but Penn State could put itself in the conversation for the Big Ten Championship Game with a win. A loss basically eliminates the Nittany Lions

Ohio State's Last Season

Last year, the Buckeyes were -18.5 on the NCAAF odds when they hosted Penn State and failed to cover in a 33-24 victory. OSU essentially put the game away on Noah Ruggles' fourth field goal, a 26-yarder with 2:41 left to make it a nine-point lead.

OSU quarterback CJ Stroud threw for 305 yards and a score, and TreVeyon Henderson rushed for 152 yards and a TD. Sean Clifford threw for 361 yards, a TD and a pick for Penn State, which managed only 33 yards on 22 carries. 

OSU leads the all-time series 23-14 and 9-6 in Happy Valley. Three of the last six games have been decided by three or fewer points. The underdog is 5-1 ATS in the past six. 

Buckeyes Are Trucking Teams 

I thought the Buckeyes might have a little trouble on Saturday at home against a very good Iowa defense but nope as OSU rolled 54-10.

CJ Stroud

CJ Stroud, the +110 betting favorite at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review) to win the Heisman Trophy, threw for 286 yards and four second-half touchdowns to four different players.  

Stroud passed Terrelle Pryor (6,177), Greg Frey (6,316), and Joe Germaine (6,370) to move into fourth place on the all-time school passing yards list with 6,458 career passing yards. Stroud has now thrown for four or more scores in 12 of his 19 career starts.

His 79-yard scoring strike to Julian Fleming was the longest pass of his Buckeye career. Marvin Harrison’s third quarter TD catch was his 10th of the season, tying him with Corey Brown and KJ Hill for 15th all-time in OSU single-season TD receptions.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba

Preseason All-American wideout receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba limped off the field and down the sideline to the bench area that had Buckeyes fans concerned.

Smith-Njigba, who has missed most of the season with a hamstring injury, was on a pitch count and scheduled to leave the game regardless according to Ryan Day.

It is the third time that JSN has tried to come back from his nagging hamstring injury that he suffered Week 1 against Notre Dame. Don’t rule out him sitting this week

OSU Stats

Ohio State now has scored more than 20 points in 68 consecutive games, one away from tying the all-time record set by Oklahoma from 2016-21. Iowa had allowed just 59 points all season prior to Saturday.

Defensively, OSU allowed only 158 total yards, the fewest since allowing 128 yards to Indiana in 2021. Kicker Noah Ruggles was 4-for-4 on field goals and 6-for-6 on PATs. He was named the Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week

The Buckeyes are 10-1-1 against the spread on NCAAF picks in their past 12 October games. 

PSU Has Strong Pass Defense 

I’m really not sure how good Penn State (6-1) might be. Probably the Lions’ best win was at Purdue in the season opener, but they were clobbered a few weeks ago at Michigan. Coach James Franklin’s team comes off a 45-17 home win over Minnesota. 

Sean Clifford

QB Sean Clifford threw for 295 yards and career-high-tying four touchdowns and was named Big Ten Offensive Player for the second time this season.

In his 40th career start, Clifford became the career completions leader at Penn State, passing Trace McSorley (720; 2015-18) for the all-time record. Clifford has 722 career completions.

The senior sits as the all-time leader at PSU in completions and completion percentage (60.6), while ranking second in passing touchdowns (75) and passing yards (9,284), third in passing efficiency (142.2), attempts (1,192) and rushing yards by a quarterback (1,038).

He is also fourth in rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (14), tied fourth in wins as a starting quarterback (27) and sixth in lowest interception percentage (2.26). 

Nicholas Singleton

Nicholas Singleton had 2 rushing scores and now has 7 on the year, tying Saquon Barkley (2015) for the second-most by a Penn State freshman. Noah Cain holds the record of eight in 2019. 

Penn State's Stats

Penn State converted 5-of-11 third downs (45.4%). Minnesota entered the game holding teams to 21.9% on third downs, leading the country. The PSU defense held Minnesota to 2-for-13 on third down.

The Gophers entered the game leading FBS in third down conversion percentage (66.2%). The Nittany Lions allowed completions on only 9-of-22 attempts.

Penn State has held three teams under a 50 completion percentage this season (Ohio, 42.5; Northwestern, 40.5; Minnesota 40.9) and is allowing teams to complete a scant 50.7% overall.  

Ji'Ayir Brown

Ji'Ayir Brown picked off a Gophers pass in the third quarter and returned it 35 yards to setup a Penn State touchdown drive.

The senior has had a hand in 12 takeaways in his PSU career (nine interceptions, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery) and has forced four takeaways in 2022 with three picks and a forced fumble. 

Penn State will host Big Noon Kickoff, FOX's college football pregame show, live from University Park for the first time ever.

The Lions are 10-4 ATS in their past 14 at home vs. teams with a winning road record. I give them almost no chance of winning, but do think they can stay within two TDs. 

NCAAF Pick: Under 61 Points (-115) at BetOnline

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Under 61 Points (-115)
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NCAAF Pick: Penn State +15.5 (-104) at BetOnline 

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Penn State +15.5 (-104)
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