We’re coming off a rough showing for this article in Week 8, but there’s no time to dwell on that with another full slate of games approaching. Week 9 will give us plenty of marquee matchups to enjoy this weekend after they were few and far between in Weeks 7 and 8.
The 2021 college football season is unfortunately entering the home stretch, so we’ll try to capitalize on all of the remaining value before getting into bowl season.
Here, I’ll go over five of my bigger edges on sides in the early week market and hopefully capture some closing line value for you in the process. Be sure to check out PFF Greenline to get your early bets in before these lines start getting hammered into place as the week progresses.
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Ohio State Buckeyes (-18.5) vs. Penn State Nittany Lions
Projection: Ohio State -20.8
At this point, it’s hard to make a case against Ohio State's offense being the best in the country. Starting at quarterback, C.J. Stroud ranks in the top three nationally in passing grade, yards per attempt and big-time throw rate. At receiver, the Buckeyes currently have PFF’s top two at the position for the 2022 NFL Draft in Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, and that’s not even including sophomore Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who actually leads those two in receiving grade. If that wasn’t enough to worry about, running back TreVeyon Henderson is leading the country with 8.8 yards per carry as a true freshman. It’s pretty easy to start rambling about the weapons in this offense.
|Success Rate||Offense Grade||EPA/Pass||EPA/Rush||Receiving Grade|
|Ohio State (Rank)||1||1||3||2||2|
The Penn State secondary has played well this season, but it hasn’t faced a passing offense anywhere near the level of Ohio State's. In fact, none of Penn State’s opponents to date have ranked in the top 50 in EPA per throw. Where Ohio State will really have an edge is on the ground, though, with the Nittany Lions ranking 87th in run-defense grade.
On the other side, Penn State comes into this contest with the 101st-ranked offense in terms of PFF grade. The run game has struggled all year long, and the passing game has trended in that direction as well. The Nittany Lions currently slot in at 107th in rushing success rate and 113th in yards per pass attempt. This will be an opportunity for Ohio State’s defense to make a statement after it was questioned early in the season. The unit now grades out as the No. 21 defense in the country.
The Buckeyes are rolling at this point in the year and should be able to exploit several big mismatches against a Penn State team with real holes.
Projection: Iowa State -10.5