The Big Ten East and College Football Playoff races
In this highly anticipated matchup, the No. 3 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes will face off against the No. 7 ranked Penn State Nittany Lions. Both teams are undefeated in the Big Ten East and are vying for the conference title and a spot in the College Football Playoff. This game has become the premier matchup in the division, second only to the Buckeyes’ annual rivalry with Michigan. The clash between Ohio State and Penn State is not only pivotal in determining the outcome of the Big Ten East, but it also has significant implications for the College Football Playoff race.
Setting the stage for a top-10 clash
Both teams have had impressive seasons leading up to this game. Ohio State faced a scare in their road win against Notre Dame, where they needed a last-second touchdown to secure the victory. However, other than that game, the Buckeyes have dominated their opponents, winning by an average of 31 points per game. On the other hand, Penn State has had a relatively smooth ride, winning all six of their games by an average of 36.3 points. Their closest contest was a 17-point road win against Illinois. Despite their impressive records, this will be the toughest test for both teams so far.
Examining Ohio State’s red zone struggles
One area of concern for Ohio State is their red zone offense. While they are currently scoring an average of 36 points per game, the Buckeyes have been less efficient in the red zone compared to previous seasons. In fact, their touchdown conversion rate in the red zone stands at 60.9%, which is below the national average of 62.3%. This statistic could become a significant factor against stronger competition, such as Penn State. Ohio State’s inability to finish drives and convert opportunities into touchdowns may cost them against top-notch opponents.
Penn State’s exceptional defensive performance
On the other side of the ball, Penn State’s defense has been nothing short of remarkable. One standout statistic is their ability to prevent opponents from gaining yards. On 46.4% of their defensive snaps, the Nittany Lions have either stopped the play for a loss or no gain. This rate surpasses the national average of 33.6% and is a testament to Penn State’s defensive prowess. Such a dominant defensive performance will make it difficult for opposing teams, including Ohio State, to put up significant points on the scoreboard.
Penn State’s historical road woes
While Penn State enters this game with an undefeated record and a strong defense, history does not favor them on the road against top-five opponents. The Nittany Lions have lost 14 consecutive road games against AP top-five teams, with their last victory coming in 1994 against No. 5 Michigan. Furthermore, Penn State has suffered six straight losses against Ohio State, with three of those losses occurring when both teams were ranked in the top 10. In addition, the Buckeyes have won five straight games against Penn State in Columbus and have dominated the series since Penn State joined the Big Ten. These historical trends suggest that Penn State will face an uphill battle on their quest for a victory.
The experts’ predictions for this game vary, with a mixture of confidence in both teams’ abilities. Some experts have chosen Penn State to cover the spread, highlighting the anticipated defensive battle that could result in a low-scoring affair. Others have expressed more confidence in Ohio State, given their historical dominance in the series and their recent success against Penn State.
A potential low-scoring affair
The prevailing sentiment among the experts is that this game will likely be close and low-scoring. The defenses of both teams have been exceptional, which could lead to a hard-fought defensive battle. As a result, some experts recommend betting on the under, suggesting that the total score will be below the projected 45.5 points.
The Ohio State vs. Penn State matchup is undoubtedly one of the most exciting games in college football this season. It will shape the landscape of the Big Ten East and have implications for the College Football Playoff race. Both teams have showcased their dominance so far this season, with Ohio State’s offensive struggles in the red zone and Penn State’s impressive defensive performance standing out as key factors to watch. Ultimately, history and recent trends favor Ohio State, but in a game featuring two top-10 teams, anything can happen. Fans and football enthusiasts should prepare for a thrilling and closely contested battle on the gridiron.
<< photo by cottonbro studio >>
The image is for illustrative purposes only and does not depict the actual situation.
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