The No. 5 Ohio State Buckeyes are the class of the Big Ten, but should they be laying 18.5 points at home this Saturday versus the No. 20 Penn State Nittany Lions? This is an easy college football pick for Week 9 – if Sean Clifford is healthy.
The Ohio State Buckeyes are better than people think. They’re certainly too good to be ranked No. 5 in the nation on both the AP and coaches polls. In fact, the Buckeyes (6-1 straight up, 4-3-1 against the spread, Over 5-2) are No. 3 on my College Football Power Rankings for Week 9, with a legitimate claim for No. 2 status.
OSU isn’t the only undervalued team in the Big Ten. The Penn State Nittany Lions are No. 20 in the polls, but No. 9 on our Power Rankings. Penn State (5-2 SU, 4-3 ATS, Under 5-2) will be at the Horseshoe this Saturday and has a very real shot at winning this game straight up as hefty underdogs.
Here are my picks and predictions for the college football Week 9 matchup between Penn State and Ohio State (Odds via BetMGM; pick confidence based on 1-to-5 star rating).
Penn State vs. Ohio State Game Info
Date/Time: Saturday, October 30, 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Ohio Stadium, Columbus, OH
Weather: Rain, 58 degrees
Penn State vs. Ohio State Odds Analysis
The Buckeyes are 18.5-point home favorites at press time. A small handful of online sportsbooks opened them very early at -11, which might be closer to where the college football odds "should" be. SBR's consensus reports show 73 percent of bettors on Penn State.
The 61-point total is up from 59.5 at the open, with 77 percent of early bettors pounding the Over.
Penn State vs. Ohio State Betting Picks
Penn State +18.5 (-110)
Under 61 (-110)
Penn State vs. Ohio State Betting Predictions
Penn State +18.5 (-110) ★★★
It's common practice for the books that set very early college football lines to lean on computer projections, then adjust later. Penn State +11 is in line with the projections I'm looking at.
There's a problem, though: PSU quarterback Sean Clifford might not be at full strength. Clifford (12 touchdowns, five interceptions) suffered a non-disclosed injury in Week 6 versus Iowa and wasn't sharp in his Week 8 return, a 20-18 loss to Illinois (+24.5 away) in a record nine overtimes.
Head coach James Franklin did tell reporters on Tuesday that Clifford will be "100 percent" for Saturday's matchup. If so, Penn State will be a bargain at +18.5, but there had to be real concern over Clifford's health this past weekend when the Lions had their wider open at that price.
There are also rumors of Franklin potentially making a move to USC or LSU in the offseason. It's enough to keep me from calling this game a five-star, deadbolt lock, but a medium-sized bet still seems appropriate.
Under 61 (-110) ★
Pretty much every totals bet should be a one-star pick in my estimation, unless you've got some serious angles working in your favor.
The early action on the Over makes sense, given that Ohio State has the No. 1 offense on this week's F+ Ratings at Football Outsiders, paired with the No. 25 defense.
Adding 1.5 points to the pile does help the Under to some extent. That total could climb even higher when the betting public weighs in later this week.
Saturday's forecast calls for light rain at game time, although there might be a break in the weather (the rain should be at its heaviest on Friday). Expect soggy FieldTurf conditions at the very least and a lower-scoring game than expected.
SEE ALSO: Ole Miss vs. Auburn Week 9 Picks
Picks made on 10/26/2021 at 2:53 p.m. ET