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Penn State Nittany Lions 2019 college football betting preview

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August 19th, 2019

2018 record: 9-4 2018 Big Ten record: 6-3 Key additions: OLB Brandon Smith, RB Noah Cain, DE Adisa Isaac Key losses: RB Miles Sanders, OL Connor McGovern, QB Trace McSorley

Overview

The Penn State Nittany Lions are poised to improve on last season’s 9-4 record. Penn State expects to be contending for conference and national championships every year, so last season was disappointing. The Nittany Lions needed overtime to defeat Appalachian State in the season opener, got destroyed by Michigan on the road, endured home losses to Ohio State and Michigan State two weeks in a row and then lost to Kentucky in the Citrus Bowl. This seems like a make-or-break season for head coach James Franklin.

The Nittany Lions can lean on experience on both sides of the ball, as they return six offensive starters and six on defense. Their biggest personnel question will be at quarterback, to see who will replace Trace McSorley. It’s a competition between redshirt sophomore Sean Clifford and redshirt freshman Will Levis, with Clifford the reported frontrunner to win the job. They will also need to replace running back Miles Sanders, who left for the NFL after a 1,274-yard rushing total last season. It appears Penn State will employ a running back by committee, likely led by sophomore Ricky Slade. Expect incoming freshman Noah Cain to factor in as well.
On defense there are a ton of seniors and juniors on the unit, but sophomore Micah Parsons could take a leadership role. He led the team in tackles last year and is poised for a breakout season as the full-time starter at middle linebacker.


Cornerback John Reid and defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos will also be called upon to produce and keep some of the Big Ten’s best teams out of the end zone. Penn State will need their leadership and improved play if it wants to make a run at the Big Ten championship.

College Football Playoff odds: +7000

Penn State’s main issue with competing for a national championship is that it first has to go through the loaded Big Ten East, which has at least two other national title contenders. The Nittany Lions would then have to win the Big Ten championship to be considered for the College Football Playoff. That seems unlikely, especially with an unproven quarterback and questions on defense.

2019 win total: 8.5 (O -120/U -110)

Penn State is going to have a difficult time in the Big Ten East with Michigan, Ohio State and even Michigan State challenging for the division crown. Penn State hosts Michigan at Happy Valley, but has to travel to Columbus and East Lansing. Penn State, with its schedule, could be in for a tough season.

Expect the Nittany Lions to once again get to nine wins, but it will be a struggle for them to get there.




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