Penn State Betting Odds Preview
Considering the cloud they played under last year the Penn State Nittany Lions were one of the pleasant surprises of college football last year.
With just a half-dozen returning starters, a new head coach, and an 0-2 start Penn State proceeded to win eight games playing for little more than pride. This year the Lions are still ineligible to win the division or play in a bowl, serving a postseason ban. Can they recapture some of last year's magic?
Odds to Win Big Ten: (Ineligible)
Regular Season Win Total: 8 at 5Dimes
Penn State began last season in the strangest of circumstances; coach Paterno was gone, several players had transferred out, and nobody expected anything out of the Lions. And with just six returning starters they lost their first two games, blowing leads at home against Ohio and at Virginia. But after that Penn State lost just twice; to Ohio State, which eventually went 12-0, and to Nebraska, which won the Legends Division.
The Lions won five in a row, all by at least 11 points, before falling to the Buckeyes, and after the loss in Lincoln (blowing another lead) won their last two, including an overtime game at home against eventual conference champion Wisconsin.
So PSU finished 8-4 overall, 6-2 in Big Ten play, and went a moneymaking 9-3 ATS, thanks to diminished expectations and a +9 turnover ratio. This year the Lions get 14 starters back; eight starters return on offense, including 1,000-yard rusher Zach Zwinak, the entire receiving corps, led by WR Allen Robinson (77 catches for over 1,000 yards last year), and three along the offensive line; and six starters return on defense, although they will have to replace four of last year's top five tacklers. But they lose three-year starting QB Matt McGloin, and might have to go with a freshman behind center.
This year's non-conference slate won't exactly be a piece of cake, with a game against Syracuse in New Jersey and home dates with Central Florida and Kent State. Penn State should be favored at Indiana and at Minnesota, but will have tough times at Ohio State and at Wisconsin. And while they'll be big favorites at home against Illinois and Purdue, that won't be the case when Michigan and Nebraska visit Happy Valley. If the Lions can get some decent play at QB early on they could be 5-0 heading into the October 5 Homecoming bout with the Wolverines.
Big Ten Championship Odds at 5Dimes as of August 5
Ohio State -115
Michigan State +800