PENN STATE @ OHIO STATE PREVIEW ~ SAT. NOV. 23RD
CAN PENN STATE DERAIL THE MOST DOMINATING CFB TEAM IN NATION IN BUCKEYE LAND?
VEGAS ODDS: (#1) OHIO STATE (-18 1/2) vs. (#9) PENN STATE ~ TOTAL: (58)
OFFENSE AND DEFENSIVE RANKINGS:
OHIO STATE: #4 OFFENSE (287/254) ~ #1 DEFENSE (90/126)
PENN STATE: #49 OFFENSE (173/254) ~ #18 DEFENSE (76/240)
Well thus far this season the Ohio State Buckeyes have basically steamrolled everyone in their way as they have basically the very Best Offense and Defense and they have looked so far like possibly the best CFB team in decades. They will host the Penn State Nittany Lions at the Horseshoe this Saturday at Noon/est and try to devour another victim. It will be a very tough match up if Penn State’s Defense can play better than they have the past 2 weeks. The Buckeyes run thru everyone like they have extra blockers, avg. 287 rushing yards per game. This week will be their toughest test as the Lions D allows an incredibly low 76 rushing yards per game. If Ohio State was like Navy and simply did majority of their damage rushing the football than this week could cause them nightmares. The Problem for the Lions D is they also pass for 254 yards per game. You can’t just overload the box to stop the Buckeyes run game or they will crush you thru the air.
Let’s first look at the signs Penn State will have to tell their kids how they can win this game: (1) the last 2 games were both decided by a mere 1 point, (2) the third one 3 seasons ago was decided by just 3 points. The Lions have clearly got a ton of very elite kids who can, if they play a “perfect” game, win this game. The problem though is those last 3 seasons talent and this years talent for both is not even on the same planet. Ohio State has won 6 of it’s 10 games by 4o points or more. Two more by 31 points or more. Their smallest win is by 24 points. The point spread here is (-18 1/2). They will have to play their worst game by a TD less than their worst thus far for the Lions just to cover the game. It will be a monumental “UPSET” for the Lions to win this game straight up.
I love the fact of any Defense that completely stops the Run. Hard to win any game without being able to run the ball, grind some clock and keep your own Defense rested. The Lions allowing 76 yards rushing is truly phenomenal considering they have 10 games under their belt so far. They allow only 13 points per game which if they can stay even within 10 points that average, they likely will have a fighters chance to pull the Upset.
Here’s where things start to look a bit gloomy on any “Upset” talk. The Lions D has gotten destroyed their past two games thru the air as they simply could not make many stops vs. two very good QB’s, but two nowhere in the league of Buckeyes QB Justin Fields. Two weeks ago Minnesota’s QB T. Morgan passed for (18-20-339-3 TD’s) and last week Indiana backup QB Ramsey bombed them worse than Morgan did (31-41-371-1 TD). Fields is the best dual threat run/pass in nation and he’s thrown for 31 TD’s, and made one mistake passing (1 INT) all season. He’s also got 10 rushing TD’s too, likely making things bad again for the Lions D for a 3rd week in a row. The Lions can look at Wisconsin’s Defense and say they sacked Fields 5x. Not so fast, as the Badgers lost to the Buckeyes (38-7). You gotta play the best game of your life to slow this Buckeyes Offense down the entire game.
Penn State’s luck also not on it’s side this week, as the Buckeye’s best Defensive Player (best in all CFB), DE Chase Young (13 1/2 sacks), will return from a 2 game suspension. He will surely be chomping at the bit to get back on field and put up some great stats to put him back on the Heisman map. The Buckeyes D has 41 sacks, and they have held opposing teams under their normal game average yards by 171 yards under it. Think about that. 171 yards under just their average is a complete demolition. They are plus 13 turnovers on the year, so if you turn it over, they almost surely take advantage of it. It’s not easy to average 51 points per game.
Penn State is a really good team and yet they have won 4x by a TD or less. They won last week being outplayed. Two bad weeks in a row from the Defense, that numbers tell us make them elite level. Were they looking ahead too early to this big game? I say no way. They have had some really key injuries and that is more what you need to use as the takeaway for losing two weeks ago and struggling last week, albeit a winning game. The Lions Upset possibility hinges on two players: STUD WR KJ Hamler and RB N. Cain. If they both can go (gametime calls) they have a shot, albeit a very minor one. If both miss, they are getting blown out.
The Buckeyes simply are overloaded at all it’s key spots on Offense, with Fields already an explosive running weapon, and he’s got two more NFL caliber stud RB’s behind him with J K Dobbins and M. Teague. They throw fresh legs at you for 4 full quarters and you miss an open field tackle the result is almost always a Rushing TD. Dobbins has 1,289 rush yards and 13 TD’s and Teague has 744 rush yards and 4 TD’s. You load box to stop these beasts and the Red and Silver then unleash supremely talent wide outs: Olave, Hill and Victor. I rewatched the last two Penn State games and the Defense was torched by big pass plays, as they were totally out of position on so many plays it’s hard to imagine it was this Lions Defense doing it.
One positive note if you look to bet Penn State is they average 36 points per game. You might say that’s a lot, but nothing off charts. Just remember this: they average that number and did it while facing 6 of the Top 18 Defenses in the country. This team has played very good Defensive Units and still really piled on the points anyway.
I was hoping Young didn’t return and hoping I knew both Lions studs Hamler and Cain were healthy “go” guys for this prime time TV game to kick off the huge Saturday card. If this was case, I’d have bet the “OVER”. But Young is back and we won’t know status of Hamler and Cain til probably hour before game time. Now we can add possible rain to the forecast (likely 60-80% right in first quarter) for this game and my “OVER” thoughts are pulled off the table with no resistance. To me the key to making consistent winning bets is don’t bet on damaged good, and don’t try to predict Mother Nature as neither will keep your wallet fat from more winning bets than losing bets over the course of a long season. This should still be a fun game as I learn more when two great teams face off than when one great team demolishes a weaker opponent. It’s easy to win with no pressure on you the whole game. What do you do vs. another equally good team and also do on “PRIME TIME TV”? I just can’t get last years Ohio State complete demolition of Michigan and especially their Defense, that strangely looks just like Penn States D looks coming into this game this week.
I personally like to bet on Underdogs who I feel can truly win the game straight up. I don’t feel Penn State has more than a 5% chance to pull the outright Upset. I love this Ohio State teams talent, but I still only have one game to really gauge how great they truly are, the blowout win over a very good Wisconsin team and Badgers D that is loaded, but couldn’t even slow the Fields and Company show down a tiny bit. And there is no reason for Ohio State to do stupid things if up say 21 in 4th with Michigan game on deck next week. Ohio State just needs to win out to get a Playoff 4 berth. This game isn’t for all the marbles and Buckeyes HC knows it. If they were team #4 or #5 in the rankings I’d expect them to try and win by 35 if possible to prove to committee they are deserving. They already are and so running up scores isn’t needed, especially this week.
Have a great weekend of Football action and may all your wagers be WINNING ones!