Saturday, October 31, 2020, Beaver Stadium, University Park, Pennsylvania, 7:30 p.m. ET
Buckeyes at Nittany Lions Betting Preview: Buckeyes (-12.5), Nittany Lions (+12.5)
The third-ranked Buckeyes (1-0, 1-0 Big Ten) did their part last week with their dominating 52-17 win over Nebraska in their opener, but this will be the first time since 2016 that Ohio State-Penn State won’t be a Top 10 matchup after the Lions dropped 10 spots in this week’s poll.
But that doesn’t matter to Ohio State coach Ryan Day.
“They’re always going to be hungry when they play us, but certainly when you lose a game like that, everyone’s a little bit more hungry,” he said. “This is a very, very well coached team. They play well in all three phases. We have our hands full this week.”
The Buckeyes were impressive offensively with Justin Fields completing 20 of 21 passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for another 75 yards against Nebraska. But they showed some vulnerability at times on defense with Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez rushing for 77 yards and Luke McCaffrey busting free on a 47-yard run among his 87 yards for the day.
The Lions won’t have a huge Beaver Stadium crowd to add to the home atmosphere with attendance limited to families of players, coaches, and staff because of COVID-19 protocols.
About 1,300 were in Ohio Stadium for the Buckeyes’ opener last week.
“It was weird,” Fields said. “”I was looking up to the stands to celebrate with the fans, but there was nobody out there.”
With their loss to Indiana in their opener, the No. 18 Nittany Lions (0-1, 0-1 Big Ten) are pretty much in a “must-win” situation when they host the Buckeyes if they are to remain in viable contention in the conference race.
They also will be looking to avoid their first 0-2 start to a season since 2012.
“You invest so much that you’ve got to find a way to move on and move on quickly, no matter the results,” Penn State coach James Franklin said.
To add to their woes, the Lions have learned they will be without running back Noah Cain, who sustained a season-ending injury against the Hoosiers. He had moved into the starting role after Journey Brown has been ruled out, possibly for the season, with a medical issue.
Penn State did get 119 rushing yards out of quarterback Sean Clifford in the overtime loss to the Hoosiers, but will be up against a much sterner defense when they take on the Buckeyes.
“They’re going to be fast. They’re going to be explosive. They always are,” Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth said
Buckeyes at Nittany Lions Betting Pick for October 31, 2020
The Buckeyes have ruled the series as of late with eight victories over the Nittany Lions in the last 10 meetings. Penn State’s last win was 24-21 in 2016, and the Buckeyes won the next two meetings 39-38 in 2017 and 27-26 in 2018 before posting a 28-17 win last year. Defensive end Shaka Toney needs to have another big game to help keep Ohio State quarterback Fields from going off.
Buckeyes at Nittany Lions Betting Pick:
Buckeyes 42, Nittany Lions 24
Buckeyes at Nittany Lions Best Bet for October 31, 2020
Fields is coming off a big day in the opening win over Nebraska (20 of 21 passing for 176 yards and a pair of touchdowns, 54 yards and a touchdown rushing). He was 16 of 22 passing but for only 188 yards against Penn State in last year’s Buckeye win. Clifford had a big day (119 yards rushing, 238 passing) in Penn State’s loss at Indiana last week.
Buckeyes at Nittany Lions Best Bet: OVER 62.5