Over/Under 9.5 Wins () vs Penn State Nittany Lions ()Date : 09/01/2018
Time : First Game: Appalachian State Mountaineers @ Penn State Nittany Lions 3:00 PM
Location : Beaver Stadium
Pick, Prediction, & Preview:
Over/Under 9.5 Wins vs Penn State Nittany Lions
Penn State has been rejuvenated under 5th-year coach James Franklin as they went from a program that was borderline destroyed by the NCAA to a Big Ten championship contender every year. Penn State has been very successful over the last 2 years as they have won 11 games in consecutive years as well as appearances in the Fiesta and Rose Bowls, two of the most elite bowl games in college football. Penn State had a sensational running back last year in Saquon Barkley but he has now departed to the NFL and leaves a big spot to fill for Franklin and company. Don’t expect the Penn State offense to slow down by any means as they return a veteran QB with a bunch of excellent skill-players. Franklin’s worries are more so on the defense side of the ball as he has to replace 9 starters from a stout 2017 team. If the Nittany Lions want to compete for yet another New Years Six Bowl they will need to figure out things on the defensive side of the ball. Penn State was once one of the hardest places in the nation to recruit for due to scholarship restrictions and postseason bans but not anymore as Penn State is coming off one of it’s more successful recruiting classes in program history. James Franklin was able to put together the #5 recruiting class in the nation as he signed three 5-star recruits. The biggest of James Franklin’s signings was the #1 RB in Ricky Slade and the #1 WR in Justin Shorter as they are two potential players who can step into important roles early on in their career.
Over/Under 9.5 Wins's Latest Performance :
Early on in the James Franklin era, the Nittany Lions flirted with the .500 mark as they ended their first two seasons with a 6-6 record but times have changed as Penn State is a consistent New Years Six Bowl appearance program. Penn State has to fill many important spots on both sides of the ball but James Franklin was able to reload his talent once again and oddsmakers have taken that into account as they set the over/under at 9.5 wins.
Welcome In The Best
Penn State is stuck in one of the toughest divisions in college football as there are 4 teams who continually contend for Big Ten championships. Penn State has the advantage to host 2 of their toughest opponents as both Ohio State and Michigan State will travel to Happy Valley for matchups in back-to-back weeks. Penn State will also be forced to play in a cross-conference matchup this season as they will the Big Ten West champions in Wisconsin at home. Penn State will play their traditional in-state rivalry game with Pitt but they will have to travel to Panther territory in what could be a trap game for the Nittany Lions. Outside of Pitt, the Nittany Lions should have no trouble with their non-conference schedule as they will welcome in both Appalachian State and Kent State. Outside of their road matchup against Michigan, there isn’t much of a test that Penn State will face as they will travel to Illinois, Indiana, and Rutgers which all have potential for blowout wins.
Penn State Nittany Lions's Latest Performance :
Penn State will take the field in 2018 with a veteran QB and some solid playmakers but they will also have to do it under a new offensive coordinator after Joe Moorhead left for the head coaching job at Mississippi State. Penn State will have the advantage of being led by a veteran QB in redshirt junior Trace McSorley who is coming off a career year where he threw for 3570 yards and 28 TDs as well as an additional 11 touchdowns on the ground. McSorley will have to be the leader in terms of making sure his offensive unit understands and efficiently runs their new offensive coordinators scheme. Although it will be hard for Penn State to replace Barkley they have a solid backup in Miles Sanders who has shown flashes in his reserve role over the last few seasons. McSorley lost two of his top pass catchers from 2017 as DaeSean Hamilton (857 yards & 9 TDs) and Mike Gesicki (9 TDs) now reside on NFL rosters but Franklin has reloaded his talent. McSorley’s top receiver will be the 6’4 redshirt junior in Juwan Johnson who is coming off a solid year where he compiled 701 yards but he will need to get himself into the end zone more often this season after only crossing the goal line 1 time last year. James Franklin may not be too worried about the offensive side of the ball but rather the defensive side of things as 9 starters need to be replaced from their Fiesta Bowl champion team. Luckily for Franklin, he returns his sack leader from 2017 in Shareef Miller (5.5 sacks) who should be even more of a force off the edge in his junior season. The defensive end spot is so deep that Franklin moved his 5-star recruit in Micah Pearson to the linebacker spot when he arrived on campus for spring ball. One of the other guys that Franklin is fortunate enough to receive back is redshirt senior DB Amani Oruwariye who led the team in interceptions last year with 4 with another 7 pass deflections. Penn State may go through growing pains this season on the defensive side of things but luckily the few guys that return are leaders for this Nittany Lions program.
Player To Watch
Mark Allen, RB, RS Sr.
Penn State needs to replace arguably the best player to ever strap on a Penn State helmet in Saquon Barkley which won’t be an easy task to do but Franklin has stated multiple times that he will use a heavy rotation at the running back position. Allen is entering his final season at Penn State with only 231 yards but the main reason for that is because Barkley hogs a majority of the carries. Allen brings a different approach to the table rather than your typical RB as he is a shifty 3rd down back standing at only 5’7 similar to the likes of Darren Sproles. Allen won’t be on any award watch list or maybe even crack the 500-yard mark but he should top his career total as he should see some more time this season.
How Over/Under 9.5 Wins & Penn State Nittany Lions Matchup.
Vegas Odds, Offshore Odds, & Odds ATS:
Over 9.5 Wins -110
Under 9.5 Wins -110
In-Depth Analysis of each team:
9/1- Appalachian State- W
9/8- @ Pitt- W
9/15- Kent State- W
9/21- @ Illinois- W
9/29- @ Ohio State- W
10/13- Michigan State- W
10/20- @ Indiana- W
10/27- Iowa- W
11/3- @ Michigan- L
11/10- Wisconsin- L
11/17- @ Rutgers- W
11/24- Maryland- W
Overall Record- 10-2
Against The Spread Selection: Over 9.5 Wins -110
My reason for the pick :
Some people may be hesitant to back the Nittany Lions considering they lost so much talent on both sides of the ball but with the way that Franklin has recruited as of recent it is almost like the talent has gotten better. The biggest thing for me in terms of backing the over 9.5 win total is the fact that they bring back a QB who has been under Franklin for all 5 years. McSorley has Heisman potential written all over him as he was able to combine for 39 TDs last season without shouldering most of the load. The defense may go through some growing pains as they have to insert 9 new guys but luckily for Franklin some of his leaders from last season return for another year. Franklin will lead this team to an upset over Ohio State at home which may have them jump into the top 5 in the AP rankings. Expect Penn State to finish over the 9.5 win total.