Ohio State has had what basically amounts to five scrimmages and one tough test against Notre Dame to prepare for its Week 8 matchup against Penn State. There have been highs and lows over the first six games for the Buckeyes, but there is no more time to figure things out as the Nittany Lions will be in town on Saturday as an undefeated top-10 opponent. The stakes are high in this Big Ten battle, and James Franklin will be hoping to make a statement in Columbus with one of his best teams in recent years.
All lines courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.
Spread: Ohio State -4.5
Ohio State’s offense finally looked like Ohio State’s offense in the 41-7 win over Purdue. It wasn’t perfect, but the Buckeyes were able to move the ball consistently, move the chains on third down, score touchdowns in the red zone and cross the 40-point mark for just the second time this season. Marvin Harrison Jr. was his usual self, catching six passes for 105 yards and a TD, while Dallan Hayden impressed when thrust into action in a beat up running back room, leading Ohio State with 11 carries for 76 yards and a TD. The Buckeyes put up nearly 500 yards of total offense, and did so without a handful of key contributors.
Defensively, it was yet another dominant effort in what has become the norm for Jim Knowles’ group. The Silver Bullets kept Purdue out of the end zone until a late garbage time score in the fourth quarter, and held the Boilermakers to just 3-of-17 on third down. It feels like a different defensive unit has been the star each week, and this time around it was finally the defensive line. Ohio State got consistent pressure on Purdue QB Hudson Card, with J.T. Tuimoloau and Jack Sawyer each registering 1.5 sacks in the game. As a team, the Buckeyes recorded nine tackles for loss and broke up five passes, two of which were batted down by star DT Tyleik Williams.
For Penn State, they are coming off a big 63-0 victory against an overmatched UMass team. Drew Allar threw for three touchdowns and ran for another, but Daquan Hardy stole the show with two punt return TDs. It has been about as good a start as you could ask for from Allar in his first year at the helm, passing for over 1,200 yards with 12 TDs and zero interceptions through six games. The Nittany Lions have a pair of talented running backs in Kaytron Allen and Nicholas Singleton, both of whom are approaching 400 yards rushing with a combined nine TDs on the year. Through the air, Keandre Lambert-Smith is the guy, catching 31 passes for 402 yards and three scores.
Defensively, Penn State lays claim to one of the best units in the country. They really showed out against the Minutemen, recording a whopping 14 tackles for loss, seven sacks and a pick. Chop Robinson and Adisa Isaac combined for 5.5 of those sacks, as the pair of defensive ends continue to wreak havoc on opposing QBs with a combined eight sacks and 12.5 TFLs on the season. When Hardy isn’t returning punts, he is picking off passes, already recording two interceptions this year. Overall, this is a Nittany Lions defense that is allowing just 8.0 points per game, good for second in the country behind only Michigan (6.71 ppg). Penn State leads the nation in total defense, allowing less than 200 yards per game.
This will be far and away the biggest test for both of these teams this season. Penn State has yet to play an offense with nearly the type of firepower that Ohio State possesses, but the Buckeyes have also yet to play a defense with this talented a defensive line. The trenches could be a real concern here, as the OSU offensive line hasn’t exactly impressed so far this season. Still, Ohio State’s defense is no slouch either, and if Knowles’ group can contain the Nittany Lions’ ground game and keep tabs on Lambert-Smith, this has a chance to be a low-scoring, hard-fought affair.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.