Purdue can make life tough for Buckeyes

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The college football season is heating up and there are teams that have been able to rise up to the pressure and expectations (Alabama and Clemson to name a couple) and other teams that have not delivered in the big moments (Penn State).

I want to focus on the latter before I delve into this week’s picks. 

Penn State’s mental psyche has to be in question now that they have suffered two losses, the latest of which was another gut-wrenching defeat at home against Michigan State as a near two-TD favorite.

The ‘bubble burst’ effect has the potential to be a devastating one for teams like Penn State, which suddenly realize their aspirations of the playoffs and even a Big Ten title are very much in jeopardy now and the shock of it may be too much for them to keep having positive results and performance on the field in their remaining games. 

After two very tough defeats in a row at home, Penn State on Saturday must venture on the road to face the Indiana Hoosiers. They are -14 road chalk, which to me requires a bit of a leap of faith to consider a bet on them in this spot. Penn State could be two TD’s better talent-wise on both sides of the football than Indiana (4-3 SU, 2-5 ATS) which have been a mere average team this season. But the feeling of all those lofty preseason goals now falling by the wayside has got to bring the focus and intensity of this Nittany Lions football team into question, not only for this Saturday but in games down the road as well.

Ohio State (-14) at Purdue: This game is the perfect example of “undervalued” vs. “overvalued” teams in the betting markets. Ohio State is 0-3 ATS in its last three games. Purdue is 4-0 ATS in its last four. Ohio State’s offense has been strong, but their defense is allowing 370 total yards per game and on a yards-per-play-allowed basis on defense, the Buckeyes are on equal footing with the Boilermakers. Keep in mind this is only Ohio State’s second true road game of the season. They are 0-2 ATS in road/neutral games this season. Purdue’s offense has started to click on all cylinders since David Blough became head coach Jeff Brohm’s No. 1 QB in taking over the starting role.  PURDUE

Mississippi State (+6.5) at LSU (44.5): The Tigers are fresh off their biggest win of the Ed Orgeron era as they upended the No. 2 ranked and defending SEC East champion Georgia Bulldogs, 36-16, in Baton Rouge. LSU’s defense smothered UGA while their offense racked up an impressive 475 total yards, including 275 on the ground against a good Georgia defense. However, LSU was at home catching points in a ‘step up’ spot last week. Now, they are laying points in what looks and feels like a letdown situation for the home team. 

A lot was expected of Joe Moorhead’s squad this season and senior QB Nick Fitzgerald, but things started very slow for this team, including back-to-back SU and ATS losses against Kentucky and Florida. 

The Bulldogs are 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings against the Tigers and they also cashed in their lone try as an underdog this season in the win against Auburn.

I think the bye allows a creative offensive mind in Moorhead the chance to put in some wrinkles into the playbook to allow Mississippi State the chance to threaten to win this game outright and with LSU’s offense improving each week, MISSISSIPPI STATE and OVER

North Carolina State (+16.5) at Clemson (55.5): It’s a battle of undefeated teams in the ACC as the Wolfpack and Tigers square off in Death Valley. Clemson has survived a couple of scares, emerging victorious in close calls against Texas A&M and Syracuse to remain on the path toward yet another berth in the College Football Playoff. Freshman QB Trevor Lawrence has taken over the starting role and has thrived in it with an electric arm that is capable of making all the throws.

However, NC State’s defense, which lost plenty of talent, including first-round draft pick Bradley Chubb, has not fallen off to the level I thought they might. The Wolfpack offense has been terrific. They have a very impressive and talented senior QB in Ryan Finley who is completing 69.5 percent of his passes to go with an outstanding 10-3 TD-INT ratio. 

The Clemson defense is formidable to be sure. But they did allow 21+ points to the three best teams they’ve faced on their schedule – Georgia Tech, Syracuse and Texas A&M. 

We’ve seen the numbers catch up to Clemson this season as the Tigers are a money burning 2-4 ATS in six games this season, including 0-2 ATS against their two toughest opponents A&M and Syracuse. I think this number is just a bit too high and I also expect this will be higher scoring game between two good offenses and two very solid QB’s. NC STATE and OVER

Last week: 2-1

Season: 10-7-1.

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