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Viewing this Big Ten battle, it's like looking at a Da Vinci and Picasso paintings. Penn State has been a thing of beauty



2008-10-24

Viewing this Big Ten battle, it's like looking at a Da Vinci and Picasso paintings. Penn State has been a thing of beauty, flowing elegance, being almost perfectly balanced on offense, running and throwing the ball, matched with a defense that is getting better week by week. Ohio State is abstract, not doing many of the things that were expected of them, yet finding continual ways to win. The Buckeyes continue to march towards the goal of being conference champions, unencumbered at this point of seeking style points, interesting only in the essence of winning. (Free Foxsheet for this conflict)

Joe Paterno may be adding mileage to a career that ranks among the greatest ever and has people wanting to chase him out the door. At 8-0 (5-1-1 ATS) Jo Pa may end having the last laugh in winning another national champion before exiting, leaving all the detractors scratching their heads. Paterno deserves a lot of credit on two fronts, first for adapting to a new kind of offense for the Nittany Lions (Joe will tell you this is the same offense they ran in the 1950's) utilizing the talents of the players on hand to maximum use. Secondly, for trusting the assistant coaches and players to run this new wave, being able to give up control.

Paterno is no fool however, if he didn't have the right kind of players to make this work, it would have never happened. The Nittany Lions will try to prove this year's version is different for the recent past, being 6-13 ATS versus ranked teams since 1998.

Until last week at Michigan State, the Buckeyes (7-1) had been winning ugly as 2-5 ATS record indicates. This has not been a big deal to coach Jim Tressel as long as the team kept showing general improvement and was posting victories. This is a meaningful game for Ohio State on a couple of levels. Penn State's "HD Spread" offense is just the kind the Buckeyes defense has had problems with the last few seasons. The defense is ranked 10th in the country and is 9-1 ATS at the old Horseshoe versus excellent rushing teams averaging 5.25 or more yards a carry. Everything pointed towards this encounter and a win is a soothing remedy to put the USC debacle behind them. Ohio State must come thru.

Can Terrelle Pryor really pass under duress? Last week at East Lansing, Ohio State jumped on the Spartans, opening up the running game for Beanie Wells and the passing game for Pryor. This week will likely not come as easy going up against a squad like Penn State that is 10th in total defense in the country and is 5-1 ATS after allowing 170 or less yards passing.

Penn State has risen from a one-point favorite to 2.5 at Sportsbook.com, with a total of 46. That rise is contrary to the Nittany Lions being 0-7 straight up and against the spread in Columbus. With such a stout defense for the Buckeyes, Penn State is 5-15 ATS in road games vs. good defensive teams who give up 17 or less points game.

Expect this game to come down to whatever quarterback can make the most plays with their legs and arm. Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit will be "looking live from Ohio Stadium" starting at 8 Eastern. Expect this Big 10 affair to be suitable for framing.

StatFox Forecaster Penn State covers
StatFox Power Line Pick
Outplay Factor Penn State by 7


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