NCAA Football Free Picks - Ohio State vs Penn State - Week 8

Willie Bee

Thursday, October 20, 2016 8:34 PM UTC

Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016 8:34 PM UTC

Ohio State travels to Penn State for a prime-time Saturday matchup, and the Buckeyes are heavily favored on the NCAA football odds to beat the Nittany Lions a 5th-straight time.


Season: 14-16-2 (-2.90)

Vegas has decided it's going to be a 'rich get richer' weekend as far as the top-ranked college football teams go. No. 3/4 Clemson is idle, with counterpart No. 4/3 Michigan giving up 36½ at home against poor Illinois. No. 1 Alabama could close as a 20 point favorite at home, no big deal until you realize that's against No. 6 Texas A&M.

Meanwhile at Beaver Stadium, Bookmaker has No. 2 Ohio State is 20 point chalk on the road at Penn State, the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions kicking off a little past 8 PM (ET) on ABC. The scoreboard mark is 57½, sown two from the opener.

One of the most interesting facts about this rivalry -- certainly the most relevant to this matchup -- is the longest win streak by either team has been four games. Penn State stretched that string over more than half a century (1912-64) while Ohio State did it the past four years. All but one of 17 series wins by the Buckeyes came since the Lions joined the Big Ten.

Ohio State has covered three of the last four meetings, including a year ago when the Buckeyes were 17½ point home chalk on the NCAA football odds in a 38-17 decision. That final just stayed 'under' a 50 point total, stopping s string of three consecutive 'over' winners.


Offense Clicking In Columbus

Urban Meyer compared the latest win for Ohio State (6-0 straight up, 4-2 against the spread) to the last time the Buckeyes visited State College, PA two years ago. Instead of rallying against Wisconsin as last week, Ohio State then blew a big early lead as 14-point chalk but gutted out a 31-24 triumph in the second overtime.

The Buckeyes have a few injuries to report, but got some great news last week when receiver KJ Hill returned to action after it was originally thought he would miss most, if not all, of October. The 6-1 frosh from North Little Rock saw limited action, and even in a limited role adds depth to the wideouts for JT Barrett to use.


Slow Offense, Battered Defense Plaguing PSU

Not sure any team has battled injuries cutting deep into positions better than Penn State (4-2 SU, 2-3 ATS). James Franklin and his staff have done a great job so far, especially with a depleted linebacker corps. But then, this is Linebacker U, right? That position might be down two more this weekend with backups Brandon Bell (knee) and Jake Cooper questionable. In addition, starting corner Grant Haley's status remains unclear.

The Nittany Lions still managed to pull off a mild upset at Maryland last week, and the first official ROI for PSU backers this season in the process. Getting 2½ at the closing bell, Penn State ran at will and stuffed the Terps on defense for a 38-14 decision, also the first 'under' for the Lions in 2016.

The forecast for University Park calls for plenty of rain through Friday, and possibly lingering into the cartoon hour on Saturday, by which I mean College Game Day with your favorite clown, Lee Corso. It is supposed to clear out by game time, but we could see some rather blustery conditions in the low-40s with a 15-20 mph NW blow.

I keep seeing 40-10 Buckeyes in my crystal ball, which hasn't exactly been all that great to date. That would seem to make my free college football pick on the Meyer's side, but I'm feeling better about the 'under' in the end.

Free College Football Pick: Under 57½ Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker

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