Buffalo Bulls vs. Penn State Nittany Lions Pick ATS 9/7/19
Buffalo Bulls (1-0 SU, 0-1 ATS) vs. Penn State Nittany Lions (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS)
College Football Week 2
Date and Time: Saturday, September 7, 2019 at 7:30PM EDT
Where: Beaver Stadium, University Park, Pennsylvania
Point Spread: BUFF +28.5/PSU -28.5 (Intertops)
Over/Under Total: 56
The Buffalo Bulls come into University Park on Saturday for a matchup with the Penn State Nittany Lions. This game has all the earmarks of a warm-up win for the Nittany Lions, who really get to ease into their schedule this season. Week one saw both teams do well, as each notched a win. The Bulls won 38-10, which sounds good on paper until one realizes they played the Robert Morris Colonials and missed the spread by two touchdowns. They are in a lot tougher this week against Penn State in what looks like a quixotic road proposition. The Nittany Lions took care of business on Saturday with a walloping 79-7 win over Idaho.
Penn State’s Mindset
Coming off what could be called at least a slightly-disappointing 9-4 season where they lost most of their bigger games. Penn State is really getting an opportunity to acclimate to the 2019 season. Soft openings are typical, as better teams beat up on the have-nots as they warm up to the task of conference play and increased competition. But this is as cushy a September as Penn St. could hope for, with Idaho, Buffalo, then Pitt and Maryland. Their 79-point output in week one and the fact that they’re working in a lot of young talent indicates that they’ll press, but it’s just hard betting on a team multiple weeks in a row when that team knows it needn’t be at full power to get the job done.
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Buffalo Not a Bad Squad
The Bulls are coming off a ten-win season and looked decent enough in week one. They are seldom in games of this magnitude. The last time they were was in 2015 against this very Penn State team, and they were competitive, losing 27-14 at this very building. But that was a long time ago and how much bearing that game has here is likely negligible. They took some knocks in the offseason in the transfer department. They now start freshman quarterback Matt Myers and while he threw two touchdowns in game one, going 5-10 passing for 69 yards against Robert Morris isn’t a rave review of their aerial attack in the early-going of 2019. He did run for a TD, and rushing is the name of Buffalo’s offensive game, as they play behind a seasoned offensive line that might be out of its depth here. But nice running performances from Jaret Patterson, Kevin Marks, and Dylan McDuffie in week one offer some promise. Marks and Patterson combined for over 1700 yards and 25 TDs last season. But wondering if this offense will translate at this level is warranted. Even if all their top dogs didn’t depart, it would still be a tough task. With a freshman QB operating with a lot of second-choices, it’s going to be that much harder. Scoring 27 against Robert Morris doesn’t bode well for the purposes of covering this spread.
The Buffalo defense wasn’t as decimated by transfers fleeing, though some departures make them a revamped unit. Their line is intact, with Taylor Riggins and Malcolm Koonce at the ends and Deshondrick Foxworth and Chibueze Onwuka inside. Corners Aapri Washington and Devon Russell return, with James Patterson, Tim Terry, and Kadofi Wright in the middle. There is some talent, and this program has produced some good players on this side of the ball over the years, the most famous being Khalil Mack. But giving up 14 to Robert Morris translates into allowing how much against Penn State? 60? We’ll see.
Penn State’s Firepower
Sean Clifford looked good in his first start with Penn State, though Idaho is a ridiculously-easy entrance exam into the deep waters of college football. He was 14-for-23 with 280 yards and two TDs, while also running for 57 yards. Receiver KJ Hamler added 115 yards with two long TDs. A slew of backs were productive on the day, with Journey Brown and Noah Cain each scoring two times. Granted, this came in an easy game, but it appears the young Clifford should have ample weaponry to wield, at least against the first group of teams he plays. If there are any deficiencies, we likely won’t see it until they get into the thick of their conference schedule. Whatever you want to say about the PSU offense, it’s by far the best attack Buffalo will see this season and second-place isn’t even close.
It was hard not to notice how fast the Penn State defense looked on Saturday. Granted, a decent Big Ten “D” is going to look good against Idaho, but the young Buffalo offense should be concerned. Some of this unit’s heavy hitters announced their presence this season, with prized DE Yetur Gross-Matos getting 2.5 sacks and corner John Reid picking off a pass. At the other end, Jayson Oweh is another monster, with LB Micah Parsons another big-time contributor. There are some new faces, but one should defer to coach James Franklin’s ability to recruit on this side of the ball. And after a somewhat-tepid showing against Robert Morris, will Buffalo be able to score more than 7-10 points in this one? Could even that be a struggle?
I see this as being a tough ask for Buffalo. A freshman quarterback at this level going into a Big Ten stadium against a talented “D” seems like a recipe for a massive beating. I like Buffalo’s moxie, and they should give this a good go. And on both sides of the ball, they could get a big play or two to help themselves make a run at this spread. Penn State is still working things out, with a lot of talented players jockeying for more prominent roles. And this early in the season, it might be a bad time to catch Penn State slacking, but they know they needn’t be vintage to succeed in this spot. I see Penn State beating Buffalo, with the Bulls doing enough to keep it from being a Nittany Lions track meet.
Loot’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Buffalo Bulls plus 28.5 points.
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