Ohio State-Penn State Stage Third Straight Top Ten Showdown

BruceHooley

It's the third straight season Ohio State and Penn State have squared off in a Top Ten match-up and the outcome Saturday in their noon kickoff at Ohio Stadium will decide the Big Ten East and shape, or perhaps re-shape, the College Football Playoff picture.

The No. 2 Buckeyes are 18-point favorites to dispatch the No. 8 Nittany Lions, who could take the spread as an insult, or maybe a compliment given that no opponent has come closer than 24 points of beating OSU this season.

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Penn State coach James Franklin has suffered two excruciating comeback losses to Ohio State the past two seasons. His Lions led by two scores in the final 8 minutes two years ago, and by two scores in the last 6 minutes a year ago.

The Buckeyes ralled with two touchdowns each time to win, 39-38, in 2018 and 27-26 in 2017.

This will be the seventh time since Penn State joined the Big Ten in 1993 that both teams have been ranked in the Top 10 at kickoff.

Year
Ohio State
Penn State
Result

1996

3

4

OSU 38-7

1997

7

2

Penn State 31-27

1998

1

7

OSU 28-9

2008

10

3

Penn State 13-6

2017

6

2

OSU 39-38

2018

4

9

OSU 27-26

2019

2

8

???

Ohio State (10-0) clinches the Big Ten East with a win, regardless of its result at Michigan (8-2) next week.

That's because Penn State (9-1) would have two defeats with a loss to the Buckeyes.

But if the Lions pull the upset and win in Columbus for just the third time since joining the league, they would have the inside lane to a trip to the Big Ten title game because of the head-to-head tiebreaker against OSU.

Penn State would have to wait to make its advance to Indianapolis official, but it would take a home loss to woeful Rutgers (2-8) next week to prevent it.

That would throw the Buckeyes' College Football Playoff hopes into jeopardy, requiring them to beat Michigan next week and hope a spot opens for them after championship weekend in the Big Ten, SEC, ACC, Big 12 and Pacific 12.

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