NCAAF Week 9 Top Picks: Ohio State Buckeyes Eye No. 1 With Win Over Penn State

cj stroud ohio state buckeyes qb ncaaf
Quarterback C.J. Stroud #7 of the Ohio State Buckeyes leads his team onto the field before playing the Iowa Hawkeyes at Ohio Stadium. Gaelen Morse/Getty Images/AFP

A statement victory over Penn State in Happy Valley could launch No. 2 Ohio State to the top spot in the nation but the Nittany Lions will have something to say about that.

Let’s peruse the college football odds, analyze this Big Ten showdown, and keep cashing our college football picks!

Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Penn State Nittany Lions

Saturday, October 29, 2022 – 12:00 PM EDT at Beaver Stadium

There’s not much the Buckeyes can do to reach No. 1 in the nation other than hoping Georgia loses or has an extremely unimpressive win. However, a statement victory over one of the best teams in the nation in hostile territory could also push them over the edge.

And that could be the biggest motivating factor for Ohio State to keep their foot on the gas throughout Saturday afternoon’s showdown against Penn State in Happy Valley. A narrow win over the Nittany Lions is still a win, but a landslide victory could be enough for the voters to rethink their support for Georgia as the top team in the nation.

Ohio’s Performance Last Week

No. 2 Ohio State enters Week 9 with a 7-0 record (4-2-1 ATS) and last week scored an impressive 54-10 victory against the overmatched Iowa Hawkeyes in Columbus. It was complete domination on both sides of the ball as the Buckeyes’ defense forced six turnovers and had a pick-six while the offense burned the Iowa secondary at will, with C.J. Stroud launching four touchdown strikes.

Perhaps the only silver lining for Iowa’s top-10 defense was limiting the Buckeyes to just 66 yards on the ground. But aside from that, it was a lopsided mismatch that saw those backing the 29 ½ point home chalk rewarded for their faith at the betting windows.

Lions Hoping to Roar on Saturday

After a disappointing 7-6 record last season, the Nittany Lions have turned in a sterling effort thus far. Only a soul-crushing, 41-17 defeat to Michigan at the Big House prevents them from being in the College Football Playoff conversation.

However, Penn State did not stay down for very long after their first bitter taste of defeat. Last week they rebounded with a 45-17 trounce over a gritty Minnesota squad. It was an easy cover for those who backed the Lions as 5 ½ point home chalk. Penn State threw the hammer down in the second half, outscoring the Gophers 28-7 en route to the 24-point victory.

Senior quarterback, Sean Clifford, tossed four touchdown passes and ended with 295 yards through the air on 23-of-31 passing. Freshman tailback Nicholas Singleton had two rushing touchdowns and accounted for 79 of the team’s 175 rushing yards.

Sean Clifford truly redeemed himself after a miserable showing the week before in the loss to Michigan. When his name was announced, a chorus of boos rained down on the Cincinnati native from the home crowd. But Clifford proved the naysayers wrong with an outstanding performance last week.

“He’s a battler, he’s resilient and he’s tough,” Penn State coach James Franklin said. “I think if you look around the country, there’s a lot of programs that would be super excited and happy about Sean Clifford being the quarterback.”

Total Trends

• Over is 5-0 in Ohio State’s last 5 games overall.

• Over is 4-0 in Ohio State’s last 4 games after accumulating more than 280 yards passing in their previous game.

• Over is 4-0 in Ohio State’s last 4 games following an ATS win.

• Over is 5-0 in Ohio State’s last 5 games after scoring more than 40 points in their previous game.

Ohio State vs. Penn State: Pick and Prediction

Although Ohio State has won the last five meetings between these Big Ten rivals, we should point out that Penn State has covered in five of their last six games with the Buckeyes. Naturally, Ohio State not only wants to win but win big to possibly gain the No. 1 ranking in the nation. However, there is no less motivation for Penn State, a team that would rapidly climb the rankings if they were to knock off the powerhouse from Columbus.

The public will be blindly betting on Ohio State because that’s what the public does. They side with a household name, lay the points no matter how big the number, and hope for the best. But I think this will be a much closer game than the odds indicate and I believe the sharps do as well.

In the past six meetings between these two conference foes, the average margin of victory has been 6.3 points. As good as the Buckeyes are, playing at a Stripe Out game in Happy Valley is never easy. The fans are raucous and every mistake is magnified. It’s a tough place to maintain focus if things begin to go downhill.

Penn State’s offense is good enough to keep pace in this one and I also think this will be more of an offensive, rather than defensive, ball game. Let’s watch the Lions hang tough and for this one to go over the posted total.

Score Prediction: Ohio State 37 – Penn State 27

NCAAF Pick: Penn State +15½ (-107) at PoinstBet

NCAAF Pick: Over 60½ (-110) at FanDuel