College Football Predictions – Penn St Nittany Lions 2019 College Football Preview
Record – 9-4
ATS – 6-6-1
It’s a good sign when your team wins ‘just’ nine games and it’s considered by some to be a disappointment. The Nittany Lions followed up back-to-back eleven-win campaigns with a mark of 9-4, although they ended the season on a bit of a downer losing to Kentucky in the Citrus Bowl. The BONE OF CONTENTION with many Penn St faithful is that they failed to deliver in the big games. Their three losses during the regular season came to Ohio St, Michigan St, and Michigan. That’s certainly not an embarrassment, but those are the teams you compete with on an annual basis. You just have to find a way to beat those programs.
Can Penn St challenge for a division crown this year or are they too far behind the other BIG BOYS?
2019 MEGALOCKS Opening Power Rating
East Division – #4
Big 10 – #4
Penn St Nittany Lions 2019 Outlook
QB Trace McSorley departs as the program’s all-time leading passer (9,899 yards) and the Nittany Lions are going to find it almost impossible to replace the skill, elusiveness, and leadership that he provided to the team. Sean Clifford has had a cup of coffee in FBS action but it remains to be seen if he can be a QB capable of leading the Nittany Lions into division contention. The transfer of potential starting Tommy Stevens was an unpleasant surprise and hurts the depth in the QB room. The RB unit looks good with a lot of talented youngsters on board including sophomore Ricky Slade ( 5.7, 6 TD LY) and freshman Noah Cain. Penn St cranks out stud RBs with ruthless efficiency so it would not surprise us to see another 1,000-yard back emerge. It wasn’t ideal to lose WR Juwan Johnson to the Oregon Ducks via transfer but they still return #1 WR KJ Hamler (754, 18.0, 5 TD LY) and dangerous TE Pat Freiermuth (14.2, 8 TD). Three starters on the OL are back but they need to do a better job in pass protection as they allowed 31 sacks LY with a REALLY elusive and smart QB.
Penn St posted 33.8 PPG last year and our BIG TEN INSIDERS project something close to the 30 PPG mark in 2019. That’s on the assumption that Penn St gets “decent” QB play and not something a lot better or a lot worse.
Things look pretty SPICY on this side of ball as the Nittany Lions return six starters and their top-three tacklers from a season ago. Last season they bagged 40+ sacks for the fourth straight time (47) (!), allowed 20.5 PPG (#4 Big Ten), and just 53.6% completions (#2 Big Ten). They were a bit soft vs the run a season ago (169 YPG) and that is the biggest area of improvement needed in 2019.
Elite pass-rusher DE Shareef Miller is off to the NFL (Eagles) but there are plenty of men capable of bagging sacks including star DE Yetur Gross-Matos who garnered 1st Team Big Ten honors whilst tallying 8 sacks and 20 (!) TFL a season ago. There is decent size on the interior of the line and the rush D numbers should be better. The LB corps returns a pair of senior starters to go along with last year’s leading tackler Micah Parsons. The secondary may be the relatively weak link on the stop unit but they will be assisted by what is certain to be another fine pass rush.
This looks like one of the best defenses in the Big Ten and they should hold opponents to fewer than 20 PPG.
It seems like an average group on paper. PK Jake Pinegar was just 10/18 (!) on FGs from 30+ yards last year and they need to perform better than #8 in the Big Ten in net punting. The Nittany Lions need to find a new PR with the departure of DeAndre Thompkins (PR TD LY).
Overall – Things should be smooth sailing right off the bat and they seem destined to bag at least four wins in their first five games (Idaho, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, at Maryland, Purdue). There are three tough road conference games to navigate (Iowa, Michigan St, Ohio St).
Potential ATS Trouble Spot – at Michigan St (October 26)
Penn St will be coming in off back-to-back MEAT GRINDER affairs with Iowa and Michigan. The Spartans will be rested and coming off a bye week.
Season Win Total
Over 8.5 +105
Under 8.5 -125
No play yet in this market. There are several surefire wins on the docket BUT they also have some tough road affairs.
With an official seating capacity of 106,572, Beaver Stadium is the second-largest stadium in the western hemisphere, behind only Michigan Stadium.
“Nittanyville”, originally known as Paternoville, is the name attributed to the student tradition of camping out in front of Beaver Stadium prior to a home football game. Each week before a home game, students camp out in front of the stadium in order to hold their positions in line for front-row seats.
MEGALOCKS ATS Outlook: Neutral
This looks like another contender in the GROUP OF DEATH (Big Ten East). The roster looks strong across the board other than the uncertainty at QB, and that my friends, is why we have them just a slight notch below the big three (Ohio St, Michigan, Michigan St). Having said that, the upside is here for them to make a SNEAK ATTACK on the proceedings, and we can’t rule out that possibility.
James Franklin has an ATS record of 35-30-1 (53.8%) since arriving in State College and the Nittany Lions have been a much better play at home (61%) than in true road games (39%). Keep that in mind when building your weekly wagering cards.
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