The Ohio State Buckeyes remain undefeated, but plenty of challenges remain on the schedule. This week, OSU travels to play at Penn State. The 6-1 Nittany Lions are in a position to upset the Buckeyes, but can they pull it off?
Ohio State brings one of the best offenses in college football to town, but Penn State has proven that it can compete against tough competition. The Nittany Lions have a solid defense, and the only loss on the year came against the Michigan Wolverines on the road.
With the Buckeyes moving quickly up the rankings and dominating against the competition, does Penn State have a chance? Could this be an upset? Let’s break down the key details and NCAAF odds for this game between two powerhouses in the Big Ten.
Saturday, October 29, 2022 – 12:00 PM EDT at Beaver Stadium
Sean Clifford’s Time to Shine
This is Sean Clifford’s fifth season with the Penn State Nittany Lions, and it has easily been one of his best. He is making strides as a passer, and he is more comfortable with the football in his hands. His turnovers are down, and he is playing like a veteran quarterback.
In key moments, Clifford has made key plays. He stepped up on the road against Auburn earlier in the year. While the offense sputtered against Michigan, Clifford still led the team in rushing yards.
If Clifford wants to become a legend, this is his chance. A win against Ohio State puts you in the history books, and Clifford can do just that.
CJ Stroud’s Heisman Moment
The Heisman race has been relatively quiet this year, but CJ Stroud is deservedly in the hunt. He can make plays only a small handful of players can, and he is a large reason why the Buckeyes remain undefeated.
The stats are there, but Stroud lacks a true Heisman moment. If he puts on a show this week, he will have a firmer grip on the race. It will take a great November and a strong performance against Michigan to win the award, but he can further the gap with a win over Penn State and a nice performance.
Injury Update on Jaxon Smith-Njigba
Ohio State has one of the best receivers in college football in Jaxon Smith-Njigba. The only issue is that he has struggled to stay healthy all season. He has a lingering hamstring issue that has sidelined him for most of the season.
JSN made his return against the Iowa Hawkeyes, and he was on a supposed snap count. While he did not finish the game due to what seemed to be the same hamstring injury, Ryan Day said that he would have left the game regardless due to the restrictions on his play.
Still, Jaxon Smith-Njigba did not look fully healthy, and that puts his availability this week into question. If he plays, he won’t be fully healthy. If he doesn’t, the Buckeyes still have other great targets to utilize.
Keys for This Game
We should have a good idea of what to expect after the first quarter.
• If the Buckeyes start off strong and get out to an early lead, the Nittany Lions won’t be able to keep up.
• If this is close for a while, Penn State will use the crowd and momentum to motivate the team.
Outside of an early start, this game will also be won by turnovers. Penn State can’t expect to go drive-for-drive with OSU. They need to make some unique plays to even things out. Turnovers would do just that.
Even with JSN’s health being in question, I don’t see how the Buckeyes lose this game. It will mostly come down to the spread. While Penn State has a good offense and can make some explosive plays, I don’t trust them to cover the spread. They struggled against Michigan, and I could see similar mistakes in this game.
Ohio State looks to be the best team in the Big Ten, and I expect them to win this one easily. Due to the smothering defense, I have the Under hitting as well.
This should be a fun game, but following the best sportsbooks, give me the Buckeyes covering by the time the clock expires.
NCAAF Pick: Ohio State -15.5 (-110) at BetMGM
NCAAF Pick: Under 61.5 (-110) at BetMGM