Although the Week 5 clash between Big Ten powers Ohio State and Penn State is not officially a title game, the results could be even more important than a Big Ten East Division crown with a College Football Playoff berth potentially hanging in the balance.
Whichever team emerges the victor in Saturday’s game at University Park will not be guaranteed anything. However, the loser should expect its invitation to the exclusive party known as the College Football Playoff to get lost in the mail. The stakes are enormous for both teams, but if we take a look at the road ahead the sledding is tougher for the Nittany Lions, who will play common Buckeyes opponents Michigan State and Michigan but also have No. 15 Wisconsin on the docket. With seven games left on the regular season slate for both teams, there are plenty of potential landmines ahead, but Saturday’s game could very well set the stage for a highway to heaven for one and a dead end for the other.
Urban Meyer made his long-awaited return to the sidelines for the Buckeyes last week and it was business as usual with Ohio State crushing another outclassed opponent. When the dust settled the Buckeyes drew away to a 49-6 victory over Tulane, and for those who don’t mind backing their opinion up with a few bucks covered the 38-point spread. Sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins continues to melt secondaries like butter in a blast furnace and torched the Green Wave for five touchdowns and 304 yards in the first half alone. With a 36-point lead, Meyer decided to take his foot off the pedal and brought in backup quarterback Tate Martell who found the end zone on a one-yard run and capped the 43-point win.
The Nittany Lions had a dominating performance of their own when they put their offense into overdrive in the fourth quarter and racked up 35 points en route to a 63-24 win over Illinois last Friday. Sportsbook Review, a site dedicated to all things sports betting and one that displays point spreads from all the best online sportsbooks in the industry, showed that all the majors were dealing Penn State as 27-point favorites. That cover was in severe jeopardy until the Lions’ fourth-quarter surge. Senior signal caller Trace McSorley tossed for just 160 yards but had three touchdowns and 92 yards rushing to lead the Penn State offense. Bruising back Miles Sanders rushed for three touchdowns of his own and set a career high by chewing up 200 yards of real estate in the victory.
Saturday is Penn State’s annual Whiteout game, and the partisan crowd will be rocking as they welcome the No. 4 ranked Buckeyes to Beaver Stadium. The Nittany Lions are 4-0 and have covered the number in three of those four contests, while Ohio State swaggers into town with a perfect record of their own and holds a 3-0-1 mark against the spread. As explosive as Ohio State has been, it should be noted that Penn State traveled to Columbus last year as 7½-point road dogs and gave the Buckeyes all they could handle in a 39-38 loss.
The year before, the Nittany Lions welcome Ohio State to Happy Valley and stunned the Buckeyes 24-21 as 17½-point home underdogs to announce their return to national relevance. There are several trends moving in Penn State’s favor for this one as the home team is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings between these schools and the Nittany Lions have covered four of their last five games as an underdog of at least three points.
This is a battle of the No. 1 versus the No. 2 offense in the nation with Penn State scoring just four points more than Ohio State over their first four games of the season. We’re giving the nod to Penn State amidst a frenzied crowd of supporters who will be cloaked in a sea of white blanketing the stands. Sportsbook Review is displaying odds from the best online sportsbooks that are favoring Ohio State as anywhere from 3½ to 4½-point road chalk. We’re clicking on over to SBR and signing up for an account at those A+ rated sites giving us the +4 ½ on the Nittany Lions as we bang the book for a few bucks while watching Penn State give the Buckeyes all they can handle … again.