Network Notebook: Penn State at Ohio State
PENN STATE TRIES TO MAKE IT TWO-IN-A-ROW OVER BIG 10 EAST RIVALS MICHIGAN AND OHIO STATE
Wow, the #2 Penn State Nittany Lions sure looked fantastic this past Saturday night against the overrated Michigan Wolverines. They scored early and often on the way to a 42-13 blowout. Even after calling off the dogs in the fourth quarter, they gained over 500 yards and averaged better than eight yards-per-play.
This week's challenge should be much more daunting. Instead of being a home favorite of about eight points over Michigan (bet down from a dozen), the Nittany Lions will be +6 on the road in Columbus. Can Penn State make it two straight? Or, is Ohio State a Final Four caliber team that's about to make a statement.
You can make a very good case that Ohio State is WAY overrated...and that this game should be closer to pick-em. Consider...
*Ohio State was exposed as overrated late in the season last year...including an embarrassing humbling at the hands of Clemson in the National Semifinals. This year's team has a lot of talent back from last year's team...which means that talent could still be overrated again.
*A home loss to Oklahoma earlier this season raised early doubts about the Buckeyes. That stunner looks worse NOW than it did at the time given Oklahoma's bad home loss to Iowa State, and shaky wins away from home over Texas and Kansas State. The pollsters have Ohio State as the best "one-loss" team in their rankings. That's far from a sure thing.
*The best athlete on the field is Saquon Barkley of Penn State. He reminded everyone of his talent and versatility against Michigan. Ohio State had trouble with Oklahoma's athletes, and could have trouble with Barkley.
We'll grant that we're cherry-picking the highlights to make a case for a coin flip. But, those are all important TRUE factors that professional bettors will be weighing. The other side of the coin is that Penn State barely won at Iowa, and winning in Columbus is a lot tougher than winning at Iowa. Also, Penn State's defense hasn't faced the weaponry they'll see from OSU this season. Iowa and Michigan can't move the ball consistently vs. much of anyone. Those are the two toughest opponents on the PSU slate so far.
Remember that this is a mid-afternoon start on FOX rather than a night game on ABC. The opening line of Ohio State -7.5 was bet down to Penn State +6 because of the pro-Penn State reasons we outlined earlier. If the line continues to drop through the week, JIM HURLEY will have to decide if an over-adjustment could create value on the Buckeyes.
2017 Common Opponent
Penn State beat Indiana 45-14
Ohio State beat Indiana 49-21
That's a 31-point win for the Nittany Lions, compared to 28 for Ohio State. But, the Buckeyes had to play on the road. If you take out three points for home field advantage from both results, suddenly it's Ohio State by 31 on a neutral field, and Penn State by 28. That's exactly in line with the current pointspread, after you give the Buckeyes three points for playing Saturday afternoon in Columbus.
What Happened Last Year?
Penn State shocked Ohio State 24-21 as a big home underdog
You probably remember this game. Ohio State was #2 at the time, and undefeated. Penn State blocked a field goal and returned it for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to steal the win. Why do we say "steal?"
Ohio State won total yardage 413-276
Ohio State won yards-per-play 5.0 to 4.6
Ohio State held Penn State to 2 of 13 on third down tries
The market did have a bad misread here. As, Ohio State wasn't the second-best team in the country. That became clear once they played other top programs. Plus, Penn State surged home...playing much better than pundits had expected. But...Ohio State "won stats" on the road, and now has REVENGE against the team that could be their biggest divisional rival for years to come.
Is "revenge" the kicker here that puts Ohio State over the top in terms of pointspread performance? Or, are the Buckeyes so overrated again that this is a true pick-em about to create a TV thriller? Sign up for service so you can get all the BIG, JUICY WINNERS this weekend from a handicapping LEGEND!
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