#2 Ohio State vs. #13 Penn State
You never know. I’d be stupid(er) if I were to play it straight here and analyze what defies analysis. I could offer coachlike platitudes like, “We’re up against a good football team,” or “the only thing to concentrate on is going 1-1 this week.” Not gonna do it. I will allow that there is a minuscule possibility of an upset based on a decided home field advantage. (Notice that I didn’t say “based off of”. Who the hell ever produced that abomination and why is it so universally adopted in the crappy speech and prose of latter-day social media wankers?).
I’ve seen lots in this series, which admits the possibility that anything goes. I was attending Penn State in 1964 when the most shocking Penn State victory occurred. It was 27-0, it was in Columbus, and Woody Hayes made no bones (or throat punches) about the fact that his boys’ asses were soundly kicked out there. I was present in Beaver Stadium in 1994 for the most lopsided game in the series*, where the Nittany Lions kicked even more ass, prevailing 63-14. Playing the Schmuckeyes is always special, whether you want to admit it or not.
Now, we here. The toughest game of the year. Ohio State is 7-0 and looking very playoff worthy. Meanwhile, the student section vomitories at Beaver Stadium are likely to be teeming with drunken humanity and bilious aromas once again, even with such an early kickoff. Been there, done that. You see, Penn State students know as much about drinking as Penn State players know about peanut butter and jelly sandwich chucking.
The TV schedulers don’t think much of this matchup, else it would have been scheduled for a prime-time slot. In the Big Ten, Michigan vs. Moo U. got that coveted time slot. To be fair, we had it last week for the laugher against Minnesota. For this game, we find ourselves back in familiar territory with a noon kickoff. At least it’s at home.
So what might be the chances for Dear Old State, you ask? Slightly better than they would have been if Ryan Day hadn’t put Jaxon Smith-Njigba on play restriction. But they have other talented wide receivers, like Marvin Harrison, Jr., a chip off the old block if ever there was one, and Emeka Egbuka, bearing an in-vogue Swahili moniker. ESPN’s power meter, not to be confused with Al Goldstein’s Peter Meter, gives Poon State a 20.4% chance. It’s called the Matchup Predictor, but I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to slide the Peter Meter joke in there.
C. J. Stroud is the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy this year, to date having thrown for 2023 yards and 28 touchdowns this year. Contrast that with our boy Sean Clifford’s 1445 yards and 13 TDs. The Buckeyes score an average of 49.6 points per game. (But, gee, Daddy! They haven’t faced anything as formidable as the mighty Penn State defense this year, have they?). Ohio State scores just enough points to handily beat their opponents and then they add significant humiliation by pumping the final score to stratospheric heights.
Last Time Out
Both had delightful home games last time out. As you know, Penn State easily handled Minnesota, while tOSU manhandled Iowa 54-10. Iowa’s offense isn’t built to score a shitload of points, so no way were they even going to get close to the Buckeyes’ output. In that game, even with Smith-Njigba on play restriction and only one catch, Stroud threw for 286 yards and four touchdowns against a sound Hawkeye defense, with Emeka Egbuka and Marvin Harrison getting thirteen grabs and two touchdowns between them. You’d think they might be missing Chris Olave, but the talent runs deep in Columbus.
Iowa managed to keep the Buckeyes running game at bay, constraining the tandem of Treveyon Henderson and Miyan Williams to only 57 yards on 21 carries. But who needs the running game when you have the “explosive” game that is the stuff of James Franklin’s wet dreams? That’s why, like PSU, they were only 3-13 on third-down conversions.
On defense, the Schmuckeyes forced three fumbles and three interceptions on their avian eye counterparts. They recorded five sacks and ten tackles for loss, along with three QB hurries. Will Clifford get a chance to make plays? I dunno, but we’re going to see.
A beautiful football day is afoot, as da weddaperson is calling for sunny with a high of 58 and little wind. This is one of the few areas in which I am not blowing big wind, as it were.
Da Bottom Line
I know that some of you skip the above drivel to see what this fool is going to predict. That’s why I’m going to repeat the Al Goldstein joke here. Why should you miss gems like that? Just kidding. Time for the Official Turkey Poop Prediction, the fecal fumbling of a foul old fowl whose offal record impresses no one and whose blood runs through my instrument and whose heart is in my soul. But the leader of the band is tired, and his eyes are growing old, you say.
When I saw the gambling line for this one, I laughed. Could there be that much of a disparity between the #2 and #13 teams in the country? You can bet your ass on it. Is it possible that I’m full of shit? You can bet your ass on that, too.
The current spread is 15.5, and the over/under is 61, which suggests that the punters think Penn State can lose by a couple of touchdowns in a game that is likely to end with tOSU again scoring close to 40 points. It would work out to be 38-23 or thereabouts. Good luck with that. Ohio State allows 240 yards per game and only 14.9 points. This ain’t looking good. I’ll be generous to Penn State when I predict Ohio State 46, Penn State 17. I think the over/under is about where it belongs. “Based off of” precisely what, you ask? Damned if I know.
*Actually, tied for lopsidedness with 2013, which ended up with the same score, but it was the Schmuckeyes prevailing in that one, hence my convenient mental block.
I’ll be back after the game to wonder why I was so wrong about my prediction.