Pick Penn State -1.5 Over UCF for College Football Aug. 30

Jeff Grant

Friday, July 25, 2014 4:50 PM GMT

Friday, Jul. 25, 2014 4:50 PM GMT

The UCF Knights land in a unfamiliar situation to open up the 2014 season, which will allow the Penn State Nittany Lions to avenge last year’s loss in the series.

           

The UCF Knights land in a unfamiliar situation to open up the 2014 season, which will allow the Penn State Nittany Lions to avenge last year’s loss in the series.

 

A new look
Penn State will begin life under first year head coach James Franklin overseas, as it attempts to gain revenge for a 34-31 loss to UCF as 4.5-point home favorites last season, but this year’s installment will take place at Croke Park in Dublin, Ireland.

The Nittany Lions have captured two of three all-time meetings in this series, which can’t be ignored when making your Week 1 college football predictions, but they’ve also played just one neutral site game since 2012.

College football handicappers are interested to see how the defensive line plays in the early going, as the group has undergone its first coaching change in 14 years, as Larry Johnson accepted the same position at Ohio State during the offseason.

 

Lofty expectations
UCF may be a bit overvalued in the betting markets this season, as it established a school record with 12 wins a year ago, but it must replace starting quarterback Blake Bortles and running back Storm Johnson.

The Knights return just 25 career pass attempts on their roster, which means they’ll likely have to lean heavily on sophomore running back William Stanback in the early going, who ran for 443 yards and six touchdowns in 2013.

It’s still important to point out that the program has covered the number in its last six non-conference affairs.

 

A capable thrower
Franklin has a star in signal-caller Christian Hackenberg, who threw for 2,955 yards and 20 touchdowns with 10 interceptions, but that was under the watchful eye of former head coach Bill O’Brien.

The Nittany Lions will need to find a way to protect their star quarterback against a veteran defense, as the offensive line is a major question mark with just one returning starter, while the receiving core lost its best player to the NFL.

 

All about the stop unit
The Knights are going to receive a good amount of action as neutral-site underdogs, considering 18 of their 21 players that made at least one start return on the defensive side of the ball.

UCF’s program was more offensive-minded than usual last year with Bortles in tow, but there’s no doubt that 11th-year head coach George O’Leary will rely on his stop unit in playing the school’s first-ever regular season game on a neutral field.

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":293731, "sportsbooksIds":[43], "LineTypeId":1, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]

Prediction
I’m going to recommend that readers back the Nittany Lions as one of their college football picks, as I believe Franklin will have his team ready to go in this environment, while this is unchartered waters for the Knights.

Free College Football Pick:  Penn State Nittany Lions -1.5

comment here