College Football Picks: Penn State's Soft Schedule Sets Up Favorably to Top Win Total of 8.5

Ross Benjamin

Saturday, August 8, 2015 10:44 PM GMT

Saturday, Aug. 8, 2015 10:44 PM GMT

We’re going to examine the 2015 future odds on the regular season win total for Penn State. Will the Nittany Lions be able to surpass the posted total of 8.5 wins, or will their offense hold them back from attaining a nine or 10-win season they can potentially achieve with such a soft schedule?

2015 Penn State Nittany Lions Betting Preview
I’m going to be taking a look at the 2015 Penn State Nittany Lions in this college football betting preview article. Specifically my area of focus will be on Penn State’s regular season futures odds pertaining to win totals. According to the college football odds from The Greek, Penn State has a regular season win total of 8.5. Going over 8.5 wins comes with money line price of +115, and under 8.5 at -15

 

State of the Program
The football program at Penn State has recovered admirably from the embarrassment that resulted from a horrible travesty surrounding former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. After two years of serving a NCAA sanction that prohibited them from participating in a bowl game, they seem to be back on track. After all, they concluded last year with a 31-30 Pinstripe Bowl win over Boston College. As a matter of fact, they went a combined 15-9 in their two years on probation under the guidance of current Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien. Last year was the “Happy Valley” debut of James Franklin. Franklin took over after leading usual SEC doormat Vanderbilt to three consecutive bowl games, and a combined record of 24-15. Franklin’s three years as head coach with Vanderbilt was his first ever tenure in that capacity at the FBS level. Penn State finished 7-6 a season ago under Franklin.

 

Returning Starters
The Nittany Lions return 7 starters from a stop unit in 2014 that was 2nd nationally in total defense, allowing just 278.7 yards per game. Opponents were also held to a meager 18.6 points per game against Penn State last year. The defensive unit has the potential to be even better this season with all things considered.

The offense left a lot to be desired in 2014. Penn State averaged only 20.6 points per game, and topped the 30 point barrier on only two occasions during the regular season. They’ll definitely need junior quarterback Christian Hackenberg to improve from his numbers he posted a season ago. Hackenberg completed 55.8% of his passes for 2977 yards, and that’s average at best for a full time starter. The real concern was his touchdown to interception ratio. He tossed 12 touchdown passes versus 15 interceptions, and there’s no sugar coating the fact that’s just awful. Hackenberg should have no excuses as he approaches his third year as Penn State’s starting quarterback. He possesses all the physical attributes, starting with better than average arm strength, and also good size at 6’4 and 236 pounds. His two leading receivers from last season also return. DaeSean Hamilton had 82 catches for 899 yards last year which led the team in both of those categories. Geno Lewis is also back from a year in which he had 55 receptions for 751 yards. The offensive line can certainly help Hackenburg out immensely, and prevent the attack from becoming so one dimensional. The Nittanly Lions rushing game was anemic a season ago. Penn State was able to amass just 1325 yards rushing and averaged a brutal 2.9 yards per carry.

 

The 2015 Schedule

09/05/15

at Temple

09/12/15

Buffalo

09/19/15

Rutgers

09/26/15

San Diego State

10/03/15

Army

10/10/15

Indiana

10/17/15

at Ohio State

10/24/15

Maryland

10/31/15

Illinois

11/07/15

at Northwestern

11/21/15

Michigan

11/28/15

at Michigan State

 

Let’s face it, with the exception of road games versus Michigan State and Ohio State, Penn State possess one of the weaker 2015 schedules of any power conference team. Just look at the home slate that includes Buffalo, San Diego State, Army, Rutgers, Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan. They will likely be a favorite in all of those contests at Beaver Stadium, and you can make an extremely strong case for them to win every one of those affairs. Besides the aforementioned pair of road games, Penn State’s remaining away games come versus Temple (season opener), Maryland (at Baltimore), Northwestern, and Michigan. Those teams combined to go just 31-31 last year, and the four conference opponents went 13-19 in Big Ten games. I believe the Penn State Nittany Lions have a very realistic chance of winning 9 or 10 games during regular season play, and one of my college football picks will be indicative of that assessment.

College Football Pick: Play on Penn State over 8.5 wins (+115) at The Greek

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