No. 9 Penn State (9-1) faces No. 2 Ohio State (10-0) on Saturday at Ohio Stadium in a Big Ten East showdown that should determine which team goes to Indianapolis on Dec. 7 for the Big Ten championship game.
Game time is scheduled for noon on FOX.
Ohio State is a heavy favorite, and still hasn't lost a game under first-year coach Ryan Day. The Buckeyes lead the nation in scoring offense (51.5) and scoring defense (9.8) and should benefit from the return of defensive end Chase Young from a two-game suspension.
Penn State has lost by one point to Ohio State each of the last two seasons, and the Nittany Lions had double-digit leads in the fourth quarter of both games. Penn State won the Big Ten championship in 2016, and they did that by upsetting the Buckeyes. This is a chance for James Franklin’s team to do it again.
Penn State and Ohio State have a lot on the line here. With that in mind, here's everything you need for Saturday's matchup:
Penn State vs. Ohio State odds
Spread: Ohio State -18.5
Point total: 55.5
Moneyline: Penn State -110, Ohio State-110
Ohio State is a 18.5-point favorite, according to odds at Sportsbook Review, and 53 percent of the wagering has come in favor of the Buckeyes.
Penn State vs. Ohio State all-time series
Ohio State leads the all-time series with the Nittany Lions 20-13. The Buckeyes are 6-3 when the teams are both ranked in the top 10, and that includes the last two meetings in the series.
Three trends to know
— Ohio State is 8-2 against the spread this season, and that includes a 3-0 against-the-spread record in three Big Ten home games.
— Penn State is 5-5 against the spread this season, but this is the first time they have been an underdog. The Nittany Lions are 2-5 against the spread as an away underdog against Franklin.
—The last three meetings between the teams have been decided by a total of five points. Penn State has lost three last three meetings in Columbus.
Three things to watch
Chase Young’s return
Young’s return from a two-game suspension will be the dominant storyline in this game, and he will be the biggest test for a Nittany Lions offensive line that has allowed just 19 sacks this season. Young is second in the FBS with 13.5 sacks, and he made his biggest statement with four sacks earlier this season against Wisconsin. Can he top that?
Sean Clifford’s moment
Clifford needs to have his best game of the season for Penn State to have a chance. It’s that simple. He has 10 touchdowns and four interceptions in his last five games, but that comes with just a 53 percent completion percentage. If that percentage is that low, then the Nittany Lions will lose by at least two touchdowns knowing Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields is at 69.1 percent for the season. Will Clifford get enough support from the running game against a defense that allows just 90.4 rushing yards per game?
Ohio State’s running game
Speaking of tough run defense, Penn State has been solid at 75.9 rushing yards per game. That defense will be tested by J.K. Dobbins, who averages 7.0 yards per carry and has dominated against tough run defenses all season. Once the Buckeyes’ running game gets clicking, it makes the rest of the offense pop open around Fields. That’s when the chunk plays start.
Stat that matters
The Buckeyes have not lost a home conference game since 2015, and they have won 17 straight Big Ten home games by an average of 29.8 points per game. Only four games were decided by single digits, including the 39-38 thriller with the Nittany Lions on Oct. 28, 2017. Penn State is one of the few teams that has proven they can play with the Buckeyes at home.
Penn State vs. Ohio State prediction
The first quarter should be fun knowing the margin by which each team has outscored their opponents this season. Ohio State (115-18) and Penn State (110-31) have been great in that quarter all season, so the scripts should be good on both sides. Both teams score a first-quarter touchdown as a result, but the Buckeyes get a turnover off a Young strip-sack in the second to take a 17-10 halftime lead. Dobbins warms up in the second with a pair of touchdowns, and Clifford can’t quite bring the Nittany Lions back. Ohio State clinches the Big Ten East championship and turns its attention to "The Game" against Michigan.
Ohio State 34, Penn State 17