PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS (4-2)
at OHIO STATE BUCKEYES (7-0)
Kickoff: Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET
Line: Ohio State -14.5, Total: 55.5
No. 4 Ohio State will look to avoid being the second consecutive upset victim for Penn State when the two teams kick off in Columbus on Saturday night.
Ohio State has yet to lose under head coach Urban Meyer, going 19-0 SU and 11-7-1 ATS dating back to last season. This year they are 4-2-1 ATS, though that also includes a lucky cover on a meaningless play at Northwestern. Penn State, meanwhile is only 4-2 SU and 3-3 ATS this season, but is coming off a dramatic quadruple overtime win against Michigan two weeks ago before its bye week. The Nittany Lions are now 3-1-1 ATS in their past five games as underdogs, but they have failed to demonstrate any level of consistency as favorites, including disappointing SU losses to teams such as Indiana and Central Florida. Last year, the Buckeyes easily covered a 1-point spread in a 35-23 win at Penn State. Overall, Ohio State has dominated this series when playing at Ohio Stadium, going 8-2 (SU and ATS) in the past 10 meetings.
Can Ohio State win comfortably over a tough-nosed Penn State squad? For the answer, connect to College Football Best Bets for all the StatFox Experts picks throughout the 2013 regular season and bowl season. The four experts are a combined 58% ATS (82-60-5) in college football Best Bets for the season, led by StatFox Gary who is 72% ATS (13-5-1) in college football Best Bets over the past six weeks and 64% ATS (14-8-1) this year. StatFox Brian is 9-3 ATS in the past two weeks and 61% ATS (20-13-1) in Best Bets this season, while StatFox Dave is 57% ATS (26-20-1) and StatFox Scott is 54% ATS (22-19-2) for yearly CFB Best Bets.
The Nittany Lions have a pass-heavy offense, which has resulted in big numbers for QB Christian Hackenberg, even if he has not been the most efficient of passers. He has thrown for 1,672 yards and 11 TD, while completing 58.4% of his passes and throwing 6 INT. He has one top target in WR Allen Robinson (43 rec., 705 yards, 5 TD), who is a big threat on any down. On the ground, RBs Zach Zwinak (393 rush yards, 4.3 YPC, 8 TD) and Bill Belton (369 rush yards, 5.3 YPC, 3 TD) split the carries. Defensively, Penn State’s rushing defense has been its strength, giving up a mere 3.1 YPC. At times their pass coverage has been good too, limiting foes to a 56.1% completion percentage. Still, opposing passers are averaging 6.7 yards per passing attempt and 11.9 yards per completion.
Ohio State ranks 11th in the nation with 279.6 rushing yards per game, though that comes without one dominant workhorse. Three rushers have more than 300 yards for the Buckeyes on 75 or fewer carries. Carlos Hyde (443 rush yards, 6.2 YPC, 5 TD) and Jordan Hall (438 rush yards, 6.2 YPC, 8 TD) have been the most effective ones, and QB Braxton Miller has called his own number 75 times for 335 yards. In the air, Miller has been very efficient, completing 70% of his passes for 831 yards, 8 TD and 2 INT. His two primary passing targets have been WRs Philly Brown (33 rec., 453 yards, 6 TD) and Devin Smith (30 rec., 434 yards, 6 TD). Defensively, Ohio State has given up 19.9 PPG (22nd in nation), a big differential with their 45.0 PPG on offense, which ranks seventh- most in FBS. The Buckeyes give up only 3.0 YPC on the ground while yielding 7.0 yards per passing attempt.