#4 Penn State Should Roll Pitt, Cover Easily in Happy Valley

Kevin Stott

Friday, September 8, 2017 5:21 PM UTC

Friday, Sep. 8, 2017 5:21 PM UTC

After providing a winner with Florida A&M +49½ over Arkansas last weekend, let’s look for another winner or two in this Week 2 showdown from the Beaver State and Beaver Stadium in State College on Saturday

Odds Preview

Pittsburgh at #4 Penn State (ABC, 3:30 pm ET/12:30 pm PT): QB Trace McSorley and No. 3-ranked Penn State (11-3 SU, 9-4-1 ATS) welcome long-time rivals Pitt (8-5 SU, 5-6-1 ATS) to Beaver Stadium (Grass) in State College on Saturday for the 98th fight for the Spalding Trophy, with the Nittany Lions leading the all-time series 50-43-3 despite a 14-game Win Streak by the Panthers back in 1922 to 1938 before most of us were born and before the trampoline, electric razor or the ballpoint pen had even been invented. So it’s much easier to jump and shave and write these days. Offshore sportsbooks currently have Penn State as 21- to 21½-point favorites (Bovada) with the Total in the 66 (BookMaker) to 67 (Sportsbetting.ag, Bovada) range in this Week 2 matchup. The Money Line market sees the Nittany Lions as huge -1,250 (BetOnline) to -2,000 (JustBet, BetCRIS) chalks with the First Half line seeing PSU at -13 (5Dimes).

Pittsburgh won last year at Home at Heinz Field, 42-39, pushing ATS as 3-point Favorites (also played in Week 2), and the Panthers have W2 straight in this now infrequent rivalry series and are 4-0-1 ATS L5 against Penn State. The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook 2017 Games of the Year opened up Penn State as 16-point favorites in this matchup earlier this Summer, so any bettors who backed the Nittany Lions laying that number with the current Point Spread at least 5 points higher, have to feel good and can now back the Panthers to create a potentially big Middle situation.


Pittsburgh Panthers

Third-year Head Coach Pat Narduzzi (11-12-1 ATS) and Pittsburgh (800/1 to win 2017 CFP National Championship, 5Dimes) sort of struggled last Saturday in Week 1 against FCS school Youngstown State, winning 27-21 as AP First-Team Preseason All-American RB Quadree Henderson (77 Rushing yards) and the Panthers were pushed to the limit by the Penguins, needing Overtime to emerge victorious after blowing a 21-0 halftime lead and being outscored by Youngstown State 21-0 in the 2nd Half. Ouch. And in The Steel City no less. Smells like apathy. Seems like new OC Shawn Watson and Pitt need to improve some or possibly face a long season in the ACC and a report from the Youngstown State indicated the Panthers Pass Defense was weak in its coverage against the Penguins TEs and RBs. And again, that was at Home, in the Season Opener against an FBS Subdivision side. Please call home Tony Dorsett, Dan Marino and Larry Fitzgerald.

Pittsburgh (50/1 to win ACC, 5Dimes) is 8-3-1 ATS L12 against Home Teams with Winning Records but 1-4 ATS L5 and 5-11 ATS L16 overall, including the Week 1 Added Game survival vs. Youngstown State and 3-13 ATS its L16 Non-Conference games. The weighty Northcoast Sports 2017 College and NFL Scorebook tells us that Pitt is 30-26 ATS L10 years Non-Conference (including ATS Loss Week 1), 19-11-2 ATS L32 as a Road Underdog and 2-0 ATS the L10 years as an Underdog of 20+ points. The Over is 11-2 in the Panthers L13 games overall, 10-2 the L12 on Grass and 13-3 L16 vs. Teams with Winning Records and 6-1 in Pitt’s L7 Road games. If Youngstown State could put 21 points on the scoreboard at Pittsburgh and with 81 points scored in this spot last year, it’s hard to see how this one doesn’t approach the 65- to 70-point mark with Penn State probably pushing 50 themselves.


Penn State Nittany Lions

Fourth-year Head Coach James Franklin (19-19-2 ATS) and Penn State (24/1 to win 2017 CFP National Championship, 5Dimes) have made a concerted effort to get off to better 1st Half starts this 2017 NCAA Football Regular Season after playing fairly sluggish for the first 30 minutes of games last season. In their Season Opener in Week 1 against MAC side Akron, the Nittany Lions rolled to a 52-0 Home win over the Zips (PSU -30½, 66)—and led 35-0 at halftime—as star RB Saquon Barkley (9/1 to win Heisman Trophy, Bovada) rushed 14 times for 172 yards and 2 TDs with for Nittany Lions (he also caught 3 passes for 54 yards) and experienced Senior QB McSorley (25/1 to win Heisman Trophy, Bovada) going 18-for-25 for 280 yards and 2 TDs and an INT in a game we suggested backing in our NCAAF Line Movers column her last week.

Here, expect Penn State to get off to a rocket start, employing Big Ten Player of the Week Barkley (5-11, 230) and his blazing speed (4.33 40-yard Dash) and using WRs Juwan Johnson (4 Receptions, 84 yards vs Akron) and DaeSean Hamilton (3 Receptions, 74 yards, 24.7 ypc) and TE Mike Gesicki (6 Receptions, 58 yards, 2 TDs) downfield to get out to a 28-7-ish Halftime lead, meaning backing PSU in the 1st Half market seems wise (PSU -17, BetOnline).

The Nittany Lions (5/1 to win Big Ten championship, 5Dimes) are 5-0 ATS L5, 7-0-1 ATS L8 on Grass, 10-1 ATS L11 Following a SU Win and Penn State is 10-0-1 ATS in its L11 games Overall according to that must-have digital handicapping resource, Covers.com. Totals Trends include PSU Overs being 4-1 L5 on Grass, 4-1 L5 Non-Conference with the Over 5-1 its L6 games played in September.


Series Trends, Weather; Expect Lightning-quick Nittany Lions RB Barkley to Get Busy in The Happy Valley Grass

Although the Underdog is 4-0-1 ATS L5 and Pittsburgh has gone 4-0-1 ATS L5 in series, this is one of those time to toss the Science and the Math and Trends out the window and employ the Art, Recency Bias and the Eyeball Test as Pitt seems on a mini-decline while Penn State has created a team to battle Ohio State and Michigan just to try to get out of their own rugged Big Ten conference and into the national championship talk. It ain’t easy. And it’s been a slow climb since the sad end to the Paterno Era in Happy Valley, but HC Franklin and this Nittany Lions team seem to have really turned a corner by simply playing good Football and trying to land the best Recruits possible. The current Weather forecast for the borough of state College on Saturday calls for Partly Cloudy skies, a Low of 66° with N 7 mph Winds, so it looks like it will be a crisp late Summer day smack dab in the middle of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

After losing two straight to Pittsburgh (1-5 ATS L6 vs. Big Ten), expect host Penn State to play inspired football from the opening kickoff, and one thing noticed throughout the years that applies here: When a team allows 0 points in its first game (as Penn State and LSU both did in Week 1), those school’s Defenses usually try to keep that 0 going as long as they possibly can—sort of like Boxing icon Floyd Mayweather, Jr.—meaning the Panthers may be the cats having trouble scoring here. Remember, although Youngstown State is a very formidable FBS team, Pitt scored 0 points against them in the 2nd Half at Home in Week 1. And with Penn State also having automatic PK Tyler Davis (30-32 career FG, 73-73 XP), the Nittany Lions will have the three guys who can put the most points on the scoreboard on the gridiron here in McSorley, Barkley and Davis. A blowout?

PREDICTED FINAL SCORE: Penn State 47 Pittsburgh 17Free NCAAF Picks: Penn State -21 -105 & Penn State 1st Half -17 -110Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes & Heritage

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