Penn State With Huge Challenge Hosting Buckeyes

By: Michael Robinson | Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Penn State Nittany Lions have rebounded nicely after a disastrous start to the season. They host the Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday in what is easily their tough challenge to date.

The Don Best Pro Odds is getting ready for another huge week of college football. Penn State is anywhere between 1-point favorites and 1-point underdogs. The total is 50 and kickoff will come at an unusual 5:30 p.m. (ET) from Beaver Stadium.

Penn State (5-2 straight up, 6-1 against the spread) lost its first two games to Ohio (24-14) and at Virginia (17-16) with the Jerry Sandusky / Joe Paterno scandals playing a prominent role in the team’s troubles.

It looked like coach Bill O’Brien had bitten off more than he could chew and had made a huge mistake leaving the New England Patriots’ offensive coordinator job.

O’Brien has done the near impossible though, guiding the team to 5-straight wins and covers, including the last three in the Big Ten. The team is battling Wisconsin (3-1) for the Leaders Division crown and a spot in the conference title game as Ohio State (4-0) is ineligible due to sanctions.

The Nittany Lions resurgence is putting the happy back in Happy Valley, but questions do remain. First, only one opponent has been ranked (No. 24 Northwestern), and they haven’t faced a team with a defense ranked in the top-30 nationally in total yards allowed.

Senior quarterback Matt McGloin has really improved the last five games with 1,331 passing yards, 65.9 completion percentage, and 10 TDs versus just one pick. They are going to need to throw again to win Saturday as the rushing offense (149.3 YPG, ranked 77th) misses Silas Redd who transferred to USC.

Ohio State (8-0 SU, 3-5 ATS) lived on the edge last week with a 29-22 OT home win over Purdue. The Boilermakers led 22-14 before the Buckeyes sent it into the extra session with a touchdown and 2-point conversion with three seconds left.

Quarterback Braxton Miller (head) got knocked out of the game at the end of the third quarter and it was seldom-used junior Kenny Guiton who was the hero late. Miller is listed as probable on the Don Best injury report, which is a major boost for OSU fans despite Guiton’s dramatics.

The Buckeyes didn’t come close to covering the 17-point spread against Purdue and are 1-5 ATS this year as 15½-35½ point favorites. They’re 2-0 SU and ATS in games with small spreads, beating Nebraska at home (63-38 as 2½-point favorites) and winning at Michigan State (17-16 as 2-point ‘dogs).

Miller forms a great running tandem with Carlos Hyde and his passing is underrated even if he did struggle last week (9-of-20, 113 yards and a pick) before being injured.

Ohio State’s defense ranks just 63rd nationally (393.4 YPG) and needs to step up in the hostile environment especially if Miller is still getting the cobwebs out.  Penn State’s defense ranks 22nd in total yards (322.7 YPG), but the quality of competition is once again a factor.

The Buckeyes are ranked No. 9 by the AP, while Penn State is just outside the top-25 in that poll. The Don Best Linemakers Poll will be updated today and Penn State is trying to crack its top-30 (OSU is 12th).

The road team has done well in this matchup recently at 4-1 SU and ATS. Ohio State won the last two at Penn State in 2009 (24-7) and 2007 (37-17).

The ‘under’ is 6-2 in the last eight meetings.

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