If you take out championship games, bowl games and the College Football Playoff; Buckeye football teams coached by Urban Meyer are undefeated in the regular season when they’re favored by a touchdown or less.
Just two years ago, it appeared the Buckeyes were on track to make it to the College Football Playoff, heading into Happy Valley in the middle of October as 17-point favorites. A blocked field goal that was returned for a touchdown changed all that. As a matter of fact, it was that 24-21 victory over Ohio State on Saturday, October 22nd that nearly singlehandedly changed the perception of the Penn State program. After respective regular-season records of 6-6 (2014) and 7-5 (2015) the previous two seasons, the Nittany Lions went on to be an 11-win program after it was all said and done the following two years.
Now, here we are. The Buckeyes are looking to reaffirm they are the best program in the Big 10. They’re looking to show everybody that it is in fact Ohio State, then everybody else.
The stakes are obviously high, with the winner putting themselves in the driver’s seat to win the Big 10. What’s equally intriguing is the fireworks we could see on Saturday night, as Penn State and Ohio State are the top-two teams in all of college football when it comes to scoring.
Ohio State Quarterback Dwayne Haskins is the third-highest rated passer in all of College Football, completing over 75 percent of his passes (16 touchdown passes and one interception this season).
Penn State Running Back Miles Sanders is second in the Big 10 in rushing (only behind Jonathan Taylor of the Wisconsin Badgers). Sanders is coming off a career-best performance a week ago, with 22 carries for 200 yards and three scores in a 63-24 whomping of the Illinois Fighting Illini.
Trace McSorley, quarterback for the Nittany Lions, is also an offensive impact player to watch. He’s been QB for the Nittany Lions the previous two seasons, with plenty of experience in big games as well as a great arm that can change the game with throws downfield.
The over-under for this game is right around 70. Even with the absence of Nick Bosa and knowing last year’s final score of 39-38 in which the Buckeyes were victorious, that seems rather high. Ohio State has a formidable defensive line with a whole lot of depth. Penn State might not have the most experience with only three returning starters, but will likely look improved on Saturday with some solid game experience setting them up for the big game.
The line has the Ohio State Buckeyes favored by 3.5. In true road games, Urban-Meyer-coached Ohio State teams are undefeated as single-digit favorites. Add to that, in four years as the head coach of the Bucks, Meyer has only lost a regular-season road game twice. Penn State’s program would gain a lot with a victory this weekend, but the Buckeyes simply step up in moments like these and have more talent on the field.
Expect Ohio State to do what they normally do on Saturdays: WIN.