Penn State (9-1) and Ohio State (10-0) are playing for the Big Ten East this weekend. Ohio State is the more dominant team in this matchup, but Penn State will have their say after losing the last two matchups to the Buckeyes. A win over Ohio State will give the Nittany Lions hope of getting into the College Football Playoff. As of writing this, Ohio State is an 18.5-point favorite, and 61 percent of the tickets are backing the Buckeyes.
Date Saturday, November 23, 2019
Time 12:00 PM ET
Location: Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio
Penn State Analysis
Quarterback Sean Clifford has thrown for less than 200 yards in four of his last five games. He threw for 340 yards against Minnesota, but that was because they were down all game, and he threw three interceptions in that one. They do rank 47th in rushing success, and average 4.3 yards per carry. However, the Nittany Lions are at a disadvantage in the trenches. They rank 78th in line yards, and 52nd in sack rate. Ohio State ranks fourth and first in those categories. This is going to be a tough matchup for the Penn State offense as Ohio State has allowed 9.8 points per game. The key to their success is going to be to limit the turnovers. Also, Clifford is going to need to throw for more than 200 yards this game, and come up with big plays when their offense needs it.
The Nittany Lions defense is the real deal, as they rank 12th in the country in yards per play. Penn State ranks number one in defensive rushing success rate, and are holding teams to 2.4 yards per carry. Their biggest task is going to be to limit Justin Fields. The Nittany Lions have allowed explosive pass plays this season, and why they lost to Minnesota. If they can’t slow down the Buckeyes passing attack, then it’s going to be a log game. However, they can get to the quarterback, and with Fields getting sacked quite a bit, this will be huge for their defense. The Nittany Lions rank 33rd in havoc created, so they’re going to need to do just that. With this being said, look for Penn State to pressure Fields early.
Ohio State Analysis
Justin Fields is out of the Heisman race, but he’s still having an incredible season at quarterback. Fields has thrown for 31 touchdowns and one interception, as the Buckeyes average 7.1 yards per play, which is good for fourth in the country. One of the few weaknesses the Buckeyes have is keeping Fields up. He has been sacked 18 times this season, and part of it can be because he holds onto the ball too long. Penn State ranks 30th in the country in sack rate, so they can create havoc in the backfield for Ohio States offense. However, Penn State does rank 100th in allowing explosive pass plays, so the Buckeyes can very well take advantage of that. Also, look for J.K. Dobbins to try to create explosive plays on the ground against a tough Penn State defense.
The Buckeyes get Chase Young back for this contest, which gives opponents a huge mismatch to deal with every week. Ohio State has arguably the best defense in the country. They rank second in points per game, first in yards per play, and first in passing success rate. They create a ton of havoc as well ranking seventh in the country. Any way you look at it, they’re very good. They have the advantage of every advanced metric over Penn States offense except for rushing explosiveness. Now, Ohio State does have the advantage in the trenches, but if Penn State can get a few big plays off on the ground, it could open up the play action pass for Clifford. The Buckeyes should be able to limit Clifford if he drops backs. He hasn’t played great against good defenses.
Betting Pick: 1st Half Under 29
The last two matchups have been fairly high scoring, but this game should start out slow. Both defenses are very good, and can get to the quarterback. Don’t be surprised if this game has a similar feel to the Ohio State and Wisconsin game last month. The only concern is if the Buckeyes push the ball downfield. Penn State is bad at defending explosive pass plays, which is a concern for the under. However, I don’t trust Sean Clifford to move the ball on this Buckeyes defense. He has struggled against good defenses, and this won’t be any different against one of the best defenses in the country.