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Ohio State vs. Penn State odds, predictions: Grab big points with Nittany Lions

After crushing six straight opponents, the Buckeyes will face a challenge in Happy Valley

Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr. celebrates after making a play against the Minnesota Golden Gophers last week. Porter and the Nittany Lions are huge home underdogs against No. 2 Ohio State on Saturday. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr. celebrates after making a play against the Minnesota Golden Gophers last week. Porter and the Nittany Lions are huge home underdogs against No. 2 Ohio State on Saturday. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)Read moreScott Taetsch / Getty Images

Six wins in seven games. A 4-0 record at home, each victory by double digits (including three by 19-plus points). A 29-point blowout of a perennial SEC powerhouse on the road. An offense that’s averaging more than 33 points and 420 yards per game.

By any metric, Penn State has had a sensational start to the college football season. And yet the 13th-ranked Nittany Lions will run onto the field Saturday not just as a home underdog but a home underdog of more than two touchdowns.

That is how thoroughly dominant Ohio State has been during its 7-0 start to the 2022-23 campaign. But unbeaten does not mean the same as unbeatable. That much was proven six years ago in Happy Valley, when Penn State shocked the world with a victory over the Buckeyes, who were undefeated and ranked No. 2 — just as they are this week.

Can the Nittany Lions spring another monster upset Saturday at Beaver Stadium — or at least be competitive? Here’s our betting breakdown for this marquee Big Ten matchup, complete with an Ohio State vs. Penn State prediction.

Note: Odds updated as of 11 a.m. p.m. ET on Oct. 28.

Ohio State vs. Penn State Prediction

  1. Penn State +15.5 (at BetMGM)

Ohio State vs. Penn State Prediction: Analysis

That’s right: We’re taking the points with the home underdog in this one. And no, we haven’t lost our minds (we don’t think so, anyway).

Look, there’s nothing negative you can say about Ohio State, which:

  1. has won its last six games by an average of 40.5 points

  2. has covered point spreads of 19, 27.5, 29.5 and 31 during an ongoing 4-0-1 ATS run

  3. is ranked No. 2 in the country and led by the Heisman Trophy frontrunner

  4. is the favorite to win the national championship

That, of course, is just a small sampling of Ohio State’s dazzling résumé. But it’s what is not on that résumé that has us backing the home team.

Simply put, the Buckeyes haven’t played anyone of Penn State’s caliber. To that point: Ohio State’s seven opponents have a combined record of 25-27. And only one of those foes enters this week with a record that is at least two games above .500 (Toledo, which is 5-3).

Granted, Penn State has faced its share of cupcakes and underachievers. But a 41-12 win at Auburn is impressive, no matter how down the Tigers are this season. Same goes for last week’s 45-17 annihilation of Minnesota, which was ranked No. 21 four weeks ago.

And while the Nittany Lions did get pummeled the first and only time they really stepped up in class — 41-17 loss at Michigan two weeks ago — they actually had an early second-half lead before completely collapsing.

No doubt, those final 28 minutes in Ann Arbor were tough to swallow. But Penn State showed a ton of resilience in coming back last week and throttling Minnesota.

Another reason we like the Nittany Lions in this spot: Ohio State has played just one road game. That was a 49-20 demolishing of Michigan State, but the Spartans stink this year (the loss to the Buckeyes was MSU’s fourth in a row, all by double digits).

Finally, it’s tough to ignore history. Even though Ohio State has won five straight series meetings since its shocking 24-21 loss in Happy Valley in 2016, none have been by more than 13 points. And going back to the 2016 upset, Penn State is 5-1 ATS against the Buckeyes (all as an underdog).

To repeat: This pick is not a knock against Ohio State. Led by ultra-talented quarterback C.J. Stroud, we wouldn’t be the least bit shocked to see the Buckeyes win Saturday, run the table and hoist the championship trophy in Los Angeles on Jan. 9. They are that good.

It’s just that we believe this point spread is inflated (understandably so, given what Ohio State has done the last six weeks). We also believe Penn State has something to prove after that Michigan debacle.

Rest assured, the Nittany Lions aren’t some pushover that will be easily intimidated. They’ll come ready to defend their home turf. And while they probably won’t shock the world like they did six years ago, they will keep the final margin within two touchdowns — just as they have each of the last six times they faced Ohio State.

Bet Penn State +15.5 at BetMGM — but do it quickly, as the number is dropping at other sportsbooks, including as low as 14.5 in some spots.

Ohio State vs. Penn State Odds (via BetMGM):

  1. Point spread: Ohio State (-15.5) @ Penn State (+15.5)

  2. Moneyline: Ohio State (-650) @ Penn State (+450)

  3. Total: 61

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