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Points Will Be a Major Point of Penn State vs. Ohio State

by on September 27, 2018 12:00 AM

There are going to be a lot of points scored in Beaver Stadium on Saturday.

Bet on it.

Penn State enters the night-time Whiteout averaging a nation-leading 55.5 points. Ohio State is No. 2 at 54.5 points.

Bettors began the week with the line of total points at 66 points (both teams combined). It has since slid to 72 overall. And counting.

Only three times in the series’ 33-game history has the combined score soared over 72 points. And all three times the combined score was 77 points — in two blowouts, one on each side, and then the 2017 classic that was decided in the final 108 seconds (I was there for all three): 

Penn State won 63-14 in 1994 in Beaver Stadium.

Ohio State won 63-14 in 2013 at The Horseshoe.

And the Buckeyes won 39-38 by scoring the final 14 points in the game’s final 260 seconds in 2017 in Columbus.

In 2018, the Nittany Lions vs. the Buckeyes is America’s No. 1 favorite college football betting destination. According to, the match-up between No. 4 Ohio State and No. 9 Penn State — both 4-0 — has attracted 46% more action than any other Week 5 college football game.

Penn State leads the nation with 31 touchdowns (and 31 PATs), while Ohio State is No. 2 with with 30 TDs (and 29 PATs). The Nittany Lions have made just one field goal, while the Buckeyes have made three.

Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins is responsible for 25.5 points per game, while throwing for 16 touchdowns and rushing for one score in four games. Penn State QB Trace McSorley is tied for ninth nationally for points responsible for. He is averaging 21 points per game, with six TDs rushing and eight TDs passing.

Nationally, Alabama is ranked No. 3 (53.8 points), followed by Houston (52.3), Texas Tech (52) and Penn State’s season-opening foe, Appalachian State (51.7). PSU beat App State 45-38 in overtime.

This is how far James Franklin’s Nittany Lion offense has come, jump-started and completely retooled by Joe Moorhead in 2016. In 2014, Franklin’s first season at Penn State, his team averaged just 20.6 points per game and scored only 268 points overall. Through four games in 2018, the Nittany Lions have already scored 222 points.

It’s still early, but through those four games the Nittany Lions are on pace for an historic scoring season. The highest scoring average for a full season by a Penn State team — regular season and bowl game — came when the 12-0 Nittany Lions scored 564 points over 12 games — an average of 47 points per game.

Franklin’s Nittany Lions are on a scoring spree over the past three years. They averaged 41.08 points per game in 2017, second all-time at PSU for a full season, while the 2016 squad averaged 37.6 points per game (and scored 526).

That’s a far cry from Franklin’s first year at Penn State, when PSU averaged 20.6 points in 2014, followed by a 23.1-point per game average in 2015.

And it’s likely that the final score on Saturday will be a far cry from Penn State’s classic 13-6 (2008) and 17-10 (2005) victories over Ohio State.

Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979, and for since the 2009 season. His column appears on Mondays and Fridays. Follow him on Twitter at His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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