In the biggest game on the Week 8 college football slate, the third-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes (-4.5) host the seventh-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions, a matchup with plenty of Big Ten East and CFB Playoff implications. While one loss won’t completely end either school’s Big Ten East hopes, it steepens their path exponentially, making this week’s “Big Noon Kickoff” game a must-watch.
Ohio State (6-0) enters Saturday’s showdown after notching a stress-free 41-7 road win over Purdue in Week 7. Despite not having two of their top playmakers in running back TreVeyon Henderson (undisclosed) and wide receiver Emeka Egbuka (lower leg), Ryan Day’s offense hardly skipped a beat, averaging 7.0 yards per play and converting eight-of-13 third downs.
Quarterback Kyle McCord is finding his groove under center, posting his highest passing grade of the season, per Pro Football Focus (80.2). McCord ended Saturday’s 34-point win with an elite adjusted completion percentage of 80.8 on 29 dropbacks. Against a deep and talented Penn State defense, another strong showing from Ohio State’s QB1 through the air boost should significantly boost its chances of remaining undefeated.
Meanwhile, Penn State (6-0) completed its non-conference slate with a 63-0 win over UMass last week, dominating the Minuteman in all three phases. In the win, quarterback Drew Allar threw three touchdown passes, return man Daequan Hardy housed two punt returns, and safety Keaton Ellis recorded a pick-six.
Penn State’s offense still lacks explosiveness, but with a stop unit that leads the FBS in total defense (193.7 YPG), the offense doesn’t have to be perfect. However, if Penn State wants to supplant itself as a legit National Championship contender, its offense will have to clutch up on the big stage.
For those looking to bet on Saturday’s Ohio State-Penn State matchup, we’ll give you all the information you need before placing a wager, including the updated odds from BetMGM and our predictions for this Week 8 contest.
All odds courtesy of BetMGM
Ohio State vs. Penn State odds, spread, over/under
- Spread: Ohio State -4.5 (-110) | Penn State +4.5 (-110)
- Over/Under: OVER 47.5 (-110) | UNDER 47.5 (-110)
- Moneyline: Ohio State -185 | Penn State +155
This is the closest spread in this series since 2018 when Ohio State sat as 3.5-point favorites in an eventual 27-26 road win. The Buckeyes closed as double-digit favorites each of the past three seasons, with Ohio State being 18.5-point home favorites the last time Penn State visited the Horseshoe.
The current 4.5-point spread indicates this is one of James Franklin’s best teams, as it’s rare to see the Nittany Lions getting less than a touchdown against the Buckeyes on the road.
Additionally, Saturday’s matchup is the lowest over/under between these two conference foes since 2011, when both schools were members of the Big Ten’s leaders division. That day, the total closed at 37.5 and went UNDER, with Penn State State notching a 20-14 road win.
Should you bet Ohio State against the spread?
Although Penn State has arguably its best team in the James Franklin era, it’s hard to pass up laying the short spread and betting Ohio State at -4.5 (-110). While the Buckeye’s offense isn’t as potent as past iterations, they still have arguably the most talented receiver corps in college football, making life significantly easier for McCord. Penn State’s secondary is the most complete set of defensive backs the Buckeyes will face to date, so there’s a chance the Nittany Lions’ defensive backs hold their own.
Saturday also marks the biggest game of Allar’s young career, as the former Ohio Mr. Football returns to his home state to play in front of numerous friends and family. While the motivation is there to take down the Buckeyes, we’re skeptical of the Nittany Lions’ ability to generate ample scoring drives against a stout OSU defense.
From afar, Penn State’s offense looks like it’s operating at an elite clip, entering Week 8 boasting the nation’s fifth-best scoring offense (44.3), but it’s yet to truly get tested. Per PFF’s metrics, PSU ranks 108th out of 130 FBS programs in strength of schedule played, so Saturday’s a perfect litmus test to see how strong the Nittany Lions offense is.
Ultimately, we’ll side with an offense we think has a higher ceiling, betting the Buckeyes to notch the home win and cover.
Our pick: Ohio State -4.5 (-110)
Final score prediction: Ohio State 27, Penn State 20
Should you bet the Ohio State vs. Penn State OVER?
Although the depressed total of 47.5 implies Saturday’s game figures to be a defensive-oriented contest, we’re still betting the UNDER 47.5 (-110). We expect the Nittany Lions to rely on their ground game, giving running backs Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen plenty of early-down carries. With Penn State’s offense lacking explosiveness, it will likely take long, multi-play drives to get into the Buckeyes red zone.
On the other side of the ball, Penn State’s defensive front could give Ohio State’s offensive line some fits, as PSU owns the nation’s second-highest sack rate at 14.02 percent. If there’s a stop unit that can hold Ohio State in check, it’s Penn State’s. Add in the fact that Henderson, one of the most explosive backs in CFB, could be sidelined with an undisclosed injury, and we’re wagering on a low-scoring, defensive battle.
Our pick: UNDER 47.5 (-110)