Penn State 2018 Betting Preview: Undervalued Thanks to Public Perception


Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Trace McSorley

Penn State 2018 Betting Odds

  • To win the National Title: +3000
  • To win the Big Ten: +575
  • To win the Big Ten East: +355
  • Win Total: 9.5 (over -105, under -115)

Always shop for the best line.

Penn State 2018 Schedule, Betting Odds

The Action Network Projected Wins: 9.2

Bet To Watch

Penn State Over 9.5 Wins -105

How well has Penn State performed at home since 2015? In that time, the Nittany Lions have gone 20-1 straight up — with an impressive 9-3 ATS mark against conference opponents. We may get a “Saquon Barkley discount” in the market due to a perceived drop-off after the departure of the star running back, but recent recruiting rankings suggest that won’t happen. Head coach James Franklin has had top 20 classes in each of the past four cycles, most recently pulling the fifth-best class in the country for 2018.

The influx of talent is needed, as Penn State ranks 116th overall in returning production for 2018. The Nittany Lions also lost offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead, who left to take the head coaching job at Mississippi State.

However, quarterback Trace McSorley returns with the bulk of his offensive line, in addition to outside weapons in wide receivers Juwan Johnson and DeAndre Thompkins. Penn State also has four relatively easy games to build an identity before its showdown with Ohio State. As for the defense, almost every player who donned a jersey on that side of the ball earned snaps in 2017 — PSU rotated players more often than any team in the country.

Only one of Penn State’s four toughest games on the schedule will require travel — at Michigan on Nov. 3. Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin all have to visit Happy Valley, which makes State College an important stop in determining who will make the College Football Playoff.

If Penn State can defend home turf against the Big Ten — as it has in the past — the Over 9.5 should cash. There should also be an easy opportunity to hedge if the Nittany Lions enter the Wisconsin game with seven wins.

>> Follow Collin Wilson in The Action Network App to get free alerts on all his college football bets during the season.

What else you need to know about Penn State

I could certainly make a case for Trace McSorley to win the Heisman at +2200. As detailed in an earlier Heisman piece, McSorley meets all of the criteria to at least get to New York for the Heisman ceremony. While the schedule presents some high-ranking Passing S&P+ defenses, ending the season with Rutgers and Maryland could be a huge advantage.

Useless Trends

  • Penn State is 2-11-2 ATS since 2014 after a straight-up loss.
  • James Franklin is 8-0 ATS since 2014 when receiving fewer than 50% of bets when the line sits between +3 and -24.

More College Football Betting Previews

Click here for team previews on all 130 FBS schools.

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