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Staff Predictions: No. 20 Penn State vs. No. 5 Ohio State

No. 20 Penn State football (5-2, 2-2 Big Ten) faces a tall task when it plays No. 5 Ohio State (6-1, 4-0 Big Ten) in Columbus this weekend.

The Nittany Lions are coming off an absolutely brutal loss to Illinois that caused them to fall 13 spots to No. 20 in the AP Top 25 Poll. The Buckeyes, on the other hand, destroyed Indiana 54-7 last week.

Given Penn State’s recent struggles and Ohio State’s hot streak, almost all of our staff expects James Franklin’s squad to suffer its third loss of the season Saturday night.

Samuel Brungo (5-2): Penn State 28, Ohio State 27

Penn State is pissed off, and Sean Clifford is close to 100%, per James Franklin. I think the Nittany Lions start close, lose the second and third quarter, and come out strong in the fourth to win on a two-point conversion to avoid another overtime crisis. 

Maybe I’m just being naive and optimistic, but how could you not be romantic about football? Have fun, be safe. State by one.

Frankie Marzano (5-2): Ohio State 24, Penn State 23

Life is meaningless.

Nolan Wick (4-2): Ohio State 30, Penn State 27

Although I thought differently at the beginning of the season, this isn’t the year Penn State defeats Ohio State. Ohio State has all the momentum right now, while Penn State has none. The Buckeyes have more ways to beat you, as their offense is arguably the best in the country, and their defense is good, too.

Penn State has a great defense, but the offense looks uninspired right now. It’s hard to see Penn State winning at the ‘Shoe given its hostile atmosphere, a two-game skid, and the uncertainty surrounding Penn State’s offense. Despite all of this, I think Penn State will play Ohio State close like it usually does, as the Nittany Lions will be better prepared and Clifford will likely be at full health.

Alex Petersen (1-2): Ohio State 45, Penn State 17

I said a few weeks ago that Penn State has a terrible rushing defense, and sure enough, last week to Illinois, it gave up 350+ yards on the ground. The coaching was questionable, and the run-game was once again non-existent.

Ohio State is a scary football team. It’s currently ranked No. 1 in points per game in college football at 49.3. Where’s Penn State, you might ask? Ranked No. 81, with 25 points per game. Penn State’s offense will not be able to match the high-caliber offense of Ohio State. Expect a blowout.

Charles Reinert (6-1): Ohio State 50, Penn State 7

Penn State is dead in the water. I have no faith in a win this weekend, if I’m being completely honest. Ohio State looked weak at the beginning of the year, but this Buckeye team has really buttoned things up and gotten its act together, right as Penn State comes off one of the worst losses in program history. I’ll be watching through my fingers this Saturday and will be trying to focus more on enjoying Halloweekend.

Ethan Bell (3-2): Ohio State 35, Penn State 31

I think Penn State will surprisingly play very well. It is coming off of a bad loss against Illinois, so it’ll be fired up to start the game. However, I am sad to say that Ohio State will win this game because it’s the better team right now.

Mikey DeAngelis (4-1): Ohio State 34, Penn State 27

I haven’t picked against Penn State yet this season, but after last week’s dumpster-fire performance against Illinois, I can’t in my right mind pick the Nittany Lions to win this game. As a writer, I’m picking Ohio State, but as a fan, I am praying that (likely distracted) Franklin and Co. can pull off the upset.

Sam Fremin (2-2): Ohio State 38, Penn State 15

Sean Clifford is not at 100% physically and, after last week, will the team be at 100% mentally? Ohio State is a one-loss team that lost by one score to a current top-10 team. On paper, this may be the most winnable Ohio State game I will get to experience as a student here (before CJ Stroud gets a year of experience under his belt for next season). But, I find it hard to believe Penn State is going to be able to pull it off.

Gabe Angieri (4-3): Ohio State 35, Penn State 20

Not that I have the best record when predicting games this year, but I’m fairly confident Ohio State will win this game, and it won’t be close.

Ohio State’s offense is really, really good. Penn State’s run defense was awful last week, and I’m not expecting much better going up against TreVeyon Henderson. CJ Stroud has found his stride and presents the Nittany Lions’ defense with yet another challenge.

Penn State’s offense will be better than last week, but that’s not saying much considering how bad it was against the Fighting Illini. I don’t think Sean Clifford is close to 100%, despite what Franklin and others have said this week.

The Nittany Lions will hang around through three quarters, but the Buckeyes will pull away in the fourth quarter and win by two scores.

Ryan Parsons (5-2): Ohio State 37, Penn State 20

OK, here’s the thing. I’m picking Penn State to lose because it obviously is going to lose, but I’m reverse-jinx fading myself because I actually think Penn State will probably win. With the James Franklin rumors and Penn State’s historically embarrassing loss to Illinois, the Buckeyes are set up for a perfect trap game here. This has college-football chaos written all over it.

But in all reality, Penn State’s offense really isn’t just going to get anything done. The program says Sean Clifford is back to full strength, but I’m really not buying it. There’s just no way Franklin would’ve known that on Tuesday just three days after the quarterback’s maimed performance. The Buckeyes are finally clicking under CJ Stroud, and the Nittany Lions’ run defense is pedestrian. Things could get ugly…unless…

Will Pegler (5-2): Ohio State 34, Penn State 21

Look, the spread might be a little disrespectful, but I don’t really see how Penn State can beat the Buckeyes Saturday night. There are certainly holes in the defense, and if Sean Clifford is healthy, I could see the Nittany Lions putting a few solid drives together.

Even if that does happen, however, it’s going to be a tall task for Brent Pry’s defense to slow down Ohio State’s offensive weapons. The group struggled mightily against Illinois, and maybe they’ll come out pissed off because of that. Even if that is the case, I still see the Buckeyes putting up plenty of points on their home turf.

As my good friend and colleague Ryan Parsons alluded to, though, anything can happen in college football. I see the Nittany Lions covering the spread, so maybe, just maybe, they’ll hang around long enough to steal a win over Ohio State. I’m not going to predict that, because a Penn State win would likely take something unpredictable to happen in Columbus.

Matt DiSanto (5-2): Penn State 32, Ohio State 31

College football is stupid, and stupid things happen. Penn State winning this game after a disastrous few weeks makes no sense at all, and that’s exactly why it’s a lock, baby.

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