Penn State vs. Ohio State College Football Week 9 Preview and Best Bet

Sean Clifford #14 of the Penn State Nittany Lions. Scott Taetsch/Getty Images/AFP
Sean Clifford #14 of the Penn State Nittany Lions. Scott Taetsch/Getty Images/AFP

The Penn State Nittany Lions are so good, they’re a viable moneyline NCAAF pick for Saturday’s game with the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Ohio State Buckeyes

Saturday, October 30, 2021 – 07:30 PM EDT at Ohio Stadium

It’s always nice to make a 700-percent return on your investment – especially when it only takes a few days to mature. That’s what Saturday’s college football picks have in store for us, provided the No. 20 Penn State Nittany Lions upset the No. 5 Ohio State Buckeyes. SBK have Penn State at +700 on their NCAAF odds board, and early consensus reports show unanimous support for the Lions, so I’m adding my voice to the chorus.

Columbus Day 

Both these Big Ten teams are under-appreciated in the betting market. Football Outsiders have Ohio State (6-1 SU, 4-2-1 ATS) ranked No. 2 overall on their F+ efficiency charts, ahead of Alabama; they also have Penn State (5-2 SU, 4-3 ATS) ranked No. 11. The SP+ rankings at ESPN are even more bullish, putting the Buckeyes at No. 1 and the Lions at No. 10. We’re banking on PSU being the more snubbed team of the two.

It wouldn’t be the first time Penn State have pulled off this upset. Back in 2016, they came to the Horseshoe and beat OSU 24-21 as 17.5-point underdogs. BetMGM have them priced at +18.5 as we go to press. A spread bet should be worth making as well; the Lions are 4-1 ATS in their last five versus the Buckeyes, and 5-2 ATS since James Franklin took over as their head coach.

Penn Pal

As it turns out, Franklin might be part of the reason Penn State are available at such a bargain price. Reporters asked him Tuesday about the rumors that he’s being courted for the head coaching jobs with both the USC Trojans and LSU Tigers. Franklin denied those rumors, but in the usual coach-speak that you’d expect from someone with maybe one foot out the door.

Franklin also said Tuesday that the Lions would have “a 100-percent Sean Clifford” when they reach Columbus. But he wouldn’t divulge the nature of the injury Clifford suffered back in Week 5 when the star quarterback was knocked out of their eventual 23-20 loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes (–2.5 at home). Clifford returned after the bye week, an immobile version of his usual self, and they fell 20-18 to the Illinois Fighting Illini (+24.5 away) in nine overtimes.

Penn State have had other players get hurt as well, all of which may account for their +700 blue-light special. However, if Clifford is indeed his normal self again, this is too good a deal to pass up for a team that has proven capable of cashing in that big payday. Throw in what’s expected to be wet field conditions at Ohio Stadium, and you’ve got the recipe for a chaotic Big Ten showdown that will be even more interesting with a fat payday on the line.

College Football Pick: Penn State +700 at SBK

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