Football Pick: Penn State Nittany Lions -8 vs. Pittsburgh Panthers
No. 10 Penn State Nittany Lions (1-0 SU, 0-1 ATS) vs. Pittsburgh Panthers (1-0 SU, 0-1 ATS)
College Football Week 2
Date/Time: Saturday September 8th, 2018. 8:00PM (EST)
Where: Heinz Field Pittsburgh, P.A.
By Jay Horne, College Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Spread: PSU -8/ PITT +8
The 10th ranked Penn State Nittany Lions just barely escaped becoming the 2nd Big Ten powerhouse to be upset by Appalachian State in the last 11 years in week 1. All College Football fans remember one of the biggest upsets in college football history when an inferior FCS underdog in Appalachian State knocked off Michigan in the Big House back in 2007. Last week, Penn State trailed App State by 7 with less than two minutes to go. Quarterback Trace McSorley hit KJ Hamler for a 15 yard touchdown and the Nittany Lions prevailed in overtime to escape the upset bid. This week Penn State looks forward as they go on the road for another out of conference pairing against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Heinz Field.
The Panthers also scored a victory last week as they took care of business against Albany in a 33-7 win. Pittsburgh entered the contest as 28 point favorites which they slightly failed to cover. However, the team looked pretty solid in their opener. The defense played well. The Panthers were able to rush for over 200 yards and new starting quarterback Kenny Pickett played pretty well by going 16 of 22 for 154 yards with 2 scores and a pick. In many ways, the Panthers performance was as advertised… Decent but not great for the team that the media projected for 10th in the ACC before the season. However with Penn State’s struggles, Pittsburgh will have the opportunity to pitch another upset bid in the direction of the Nittany Lions.
Bet Penn State -8 over Pittsburgh
It is pretty obvious that sportsbooks have overreacted to last week’s scare against Appalachian State. Before week 1’s results, Penn State was favored 3 scores over the Panthers and now we are getting them at a discount price. Nothing has changed with Penn State’s football team. They are still a very solid program but they had to replace a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball where just 3 starters returned from a year ago. The lack of experience showed last week against Appalachian State as the Mountaineers amassed 451 yards of total offense.
The good news for Penn State is that defensive concerns were somewhat expected. Anyone that knew the circumstances around the Nittany Lions 2018 roster, knew there was a strong possibility of growing pains defensively. However, the defense is still talented and a product of some highly ranked recruiting over the last few years under Head Coach James Franklin. It’s not like this team suddenly lost their talent. It was week 1 and it is college football. Nothing more, nothing less. We know the learning curve is going to be there and Penn State remains one of the most talented football programs in the country despite what you may think after week 1.
Penn State also has the offensive talent to bounce back strong on the national stage. QB Trace McSorley is among the best the Big 10 has to offer and I am confident running back Miles Sanders is going to have a strong season as well. The offense is going to score points. The betting dilemma simply comes down to the defensive performance. I am under the impression that Head Coach James Franklin will correct some of the defensive problems and we will see a better effort this week. It will probably take several weeks to see the defense playing at the level they will need to be in the Big 10 but I expect an immediate improvement nevertheless.
College football ultimately comes down to the x’s and o’s. Everything in betting revolves around matchups and that is primarily why I am still heavily favoring Penn State this week. I love the adjusted odds and I love the matchup. Pittsburgh’s offense heavily favors the ground game because they still have a very questionable quarterback situation with Kenny Pickett. In 2017, the offense ran the ball nearly 500 times. Penn State’s defense lacks experience, not talent. Against a team that is going to run the ball heavily, they will not have to worry about coverage assignments nearly as much. They can be aggressive and attack the football. As a result, I expect Pittsburgh’s offense to struggle a lot more than people expect as this week approaches.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: You are getting discounted odds from the sportsbooks for one of the more talented teams in the country. Since 2016, Head Coach James Franklin and Penn State is 18-7-2 ATS. Do not let week 1 fool you. Bet Penn State -8!
These two Indiana neighbors meet for the first time despite the universities only being 2.5 hours away from each other. Sportsbooks have the spread set at Notre Dame giving 33 and Mike Mann feels that number is not high enough. Read Mike’s pick and see why the Fighting Irish will cover the spread.