Expert Ohio State football predictions for Penn State game

Ohio State football hits the road for just the second time this season as the Buckeyes travel to Happy Valley for a noon showdown against No. 13-ranked Penn State.

The matchup is biggest challenge for the No. 2-ranked Buckeyes since they opened the season with a then-top-5 ranked Notre Dame team. The 6-1 Nittany Lions, whose lone loss came in Ann Arbor against Michigan, beat Minnesota under in a White Out last week 45-17.

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This is the second straight week that Ohio State will play in the Fox “Big Noon Kickoff” game after Ohio State beat Iowa and its stingy defense 54-10. Ohio State was a 29-point favorite against Iowa. The spread is about half that this week and is the slimmest point spread the Buckeyes have had all year at just 15.5 points, according to Tipico.

Oct 8, 2022; East Lansing, Michigan, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) throws the ball in the third quarter of the NCAA Division I football game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium. Oct 8, 2022; East Lansing, Michigan, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) throws the ball in the third quarter of the NCAA Division I football game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium.

Oct 8, 2022; East Lansing, Michigan, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) throws the ball in the third quarter of the NCAA Division I football game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium.

So the smart people in Las Vegas have their picks, but what about the experts at the Columbus Dispatch and the York Daily Record? Here’s how they see the game:

Bill Rabinowitz

Columbus Dispatch Ohio State football beat reporter Bill Rabinowitz photographed April 29, 2021 in the Columbus Dispatch newsroom.Columbus Dispatch Ohio State football beat reporter Bill Rabinowitz photographed April 29, 2021 in the Columbus Dispatch newsroom.

Columbus Dispatch Ohio State football beat reporter Bill Rabinowitz photographed April 29, 2021 in the Columbus Dispatch newsroom.

Ohio State beat writer

The Columbus Dispatch

The Buckeyes are likely to be tested for the first time since the season opener. Penn State’s secondary is quite good and might be able to slow Ohio State’s passing game if the Nittany Lions can get some pressure on C.J. Stroud. The Buckeyes will look to get their ground game going against a Penn State defense that was exposed by Michigan a couple of weeks ago. Penn State’s offense has playmakers, but they’re young. Can QB Sean Clifford make enough plays to help pull off an upset? Seems doubtful.

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Joey Kaufman

Columbus Dispatch Ohio State football beat reporter Joey Kaufman photographed April 29, 2021 in the Columbus Dispatch newsroom.Columbus Dispatch Ohio State football beat reporter Joey Kaufman photographed April 29, 2021 in the Columbus Dispatch newsroom.

Columbus Dispatch Ohio State football beat reporter Joey Kaufman photographed April 29, 2021 in the Columbus Dispatch newsroom.

Ohio State beat writer

The Columbus Dispatch

The tenor of this East Division series has been consistent for half a decade. Penn State, with one of the more talented rosters in the Big Ten, is constructed to keep within striking distance, especially in a favorable home environment in Happy Valley. None of Ohio State’s past five wins over the Nittany Lions has been by more than 13 points. A blowout of another conference opponent is therefore less likely for the Buckeyes this weekend, but it’s difficult to imagine Penn State scoring enough to pull off the upset.

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Rob Oller

Columbus Dispatch sports columnist Rob Oller photographed Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021.Columbus Dispatch sports columnist Rob Oller photographed Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021.

Columbus Dispatch sports columnist Rob Oller photographed Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021.

Sports columnist

The Columbus Dispatch

Happy Valley more resembles a sad trench after the Buckeyes break out their offensive arsenal against the Nittany Lions, who show more fight than previous OSU opponents but simply don’t have the depth of talent to hang tough long enough to pull the upset. Beaver Stadium is a bear of a venue during Whiteouts, but this is a noon kickoff, the first between these two in State College since 2001, so the crowd won’t be as much of a factor. A solid test for Ohio State heading into November.

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Colin Gay

Real-time reporter

The Columbus Dispatch

Penn State seemed to keep up with Michigan until it lost its momentum, allowing 25 points, while mustering only a field goal in the second half. Allowing four touchdowns and 563 yards of offense to the No. 19 offense in the country, Penn State now has to contend with Ohio State’s No. 4 offense in the country, which leads college football with 7.77 yards per play. While Penn State’s strength on defense is its secondary, Ohio State has the pieces to move the ball in the ground game with Miyan Williams and TreVeyon Henderson. And even if Penn State’s offense puts up points against a Buckeye defense that allows 4.21 yards per play, expect the Nittany Lions to run out of gas again, even in a hostile road environment.

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Frank BodaniFrank Bodani

Frank Bodani

Frank Bodani

Penn State beat writer

York Daily Record

Ohio State 31, Penn State 20

Penn State’s defense, including a stellar secondary, can’t be expected to win this game. It will help it hang in, but the bigger responsibility will be on Sean Clifford and the offense. Rejuvenated and diversified, this group does just enough to stay within striking distance through three quarters. But that’s it. Nothing more against the most balanced, if not most talented team in the nation.

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This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Ohio State football predictions vs. Penn State