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No. 20 Penn State travels to Columbus on Saturday to square off with No. 5 Ohio State in a game that once looked to be one of the best games of the season. The divisional showdown has lost a bit of luster in recent weeks, however. Earlier this month, many anticipated this being a clash between two top-five teams battling for Big Ten East supremacy and a possible College Football Playoff. Unfortunately, a lot has changed since.

While the Buckeyes recovered nicely from its early-season loss to Oregon and dominated its Big Ten competition, the Nittany Lions cannot say the same. Going on the road and losing to Iowa 23-20 after losing quarterback Sean Clifford late in the first half was forgivable and understandable. Losing 20-18 in nine overtimes to 3-5 Illinois last Saturday is something different. Not only did that knock Penn State down 13 spots in the AP Top 25, it all but eliminated it from Big Ten title contention. The Nittany Lions now have two conference losses in a division with three teams that have yet to lose a conference game. 

The good news for Penn State is that it still gets to play all three starting this weekend, but the bad news is there's little reason it can beat all three. 

Ohio State vs. Penn State: Need to know

It's better for the Big Ten if Ohio State wins: We're almost to the time of year when playoff rankings will be released. If you're the Big Ten, the most important thing is that you get at least one team in the playoff, but ideally, you'd love to get two. A Penn State win here would seriously hurt any chance of the latter coming to fruition. It would be Ohio State's second loss of the season and history has shown that two losses are one too many.

With both Michigan and Michigan State playing earlier in the day, the conference will be down to only one undefeated team by kickoff. Of course, if you're a Penn State fan, you don't care about any of this, nor should you. All you care about is ending a two-game losing streak and getting the season back on track. 

This could be the start of C.J. Stroud's Heisman campaign: Stroud has been on fire in October. Although he threw for 484 yards and three touchdowns in Ohio State's loss to Oregon, he'd been failing to live up to the lofty expectations that Buckeyes fans have for their QB after watching Justin Fields. 

After sitting out of the Akron game because of an injury, Stroud has been lighting up the Big Ten. Over his last three games, he's thrown for 1,032 yards, 14 touchdowns and no interceptions. Of course, he's done this against Rutgers, Maryland and Indiana, so it hasn't garnered much attention. But if Stroud can keep that up by lighting up a good Penn State secondary, you can be sure his Heisman candidacy will receive a significant boost.

Penn State needs to figure out a way to run the football: It's been a serious problem for the Nittany Lions all season long, not just in their last two losses. This offense ranks 99th nationally with an average of 3.54 yards per carry, 99th in rushing success rate (48.7%) and 116th in total rush EPA (-40.73). There's only been one game this season in which the Lions averaged at least 5.0 yards per carry, and that was a 44-13 win over Ball State in which they finished with exactly 5.0 yards per carry.

One of the best ways to slow down the Ohio State offense is to keep it off the field, and the best way to do that -- particularly when you have a banged-up QB like Clifford -- is handing the ball off. If the Nittany Lions are going to go to Columbus and shock the world, they're going to have to run the ball somehow.

How to watch Ohio State vs Penn State live

Date: Saturday, October 30 | Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Ohio Stadium -- Columbus, Ohio
TV: ABC | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)

Ohio State vs Penn State prediction, picks

Featured Game | Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Penn State Nittany Lions

This point spread is not an accurate reflection of the difference between these two teams at their best, but it accurately depicts where they are right now. Clifford was well below 100% during Penn State's loss to Illinois, and if he's not healthy, an already limited offense becomes even more of a liability. Also, losing defensive lineman P.J. Mustipher for the season had a noticeable impact on the Penn State rush defense against Illinois. Now that same unit has to stop running back TreVeyon Henderson while also covering all the weapons Ohio State has in the passing game. I just don't see how Penn State can keep up with this Ohio State team right now. Prediction: Ohio State (-18.5)

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