College Football Odds: Penn State preview

By: Adam Markowitz | Saturday, July 10, 2010
Joe Paterno

Joe Paterno returns for his 45th year coaching the Nittany Lions.

With Florida State's Bobby Bowden hanging it up after last season, the coast is clear for coach Joe Paterno to ride into the sunset with the most D-I victories in the history of college football. His Penn State Nittany Lions finished 11-2 last season and capped it all off with a great win in the Capital One Bowl over LSU.

There are a ton of questions surrounding this squad coming into 2010, beginning with the most obvious: Who is replacing QB Daryll Clark. The senior signal caller threw for 3,003 yards and paced the nation's 39th best passing attack at 237.2 YPG.

Sophomore Kevin Newsome is the most likely candidate to replace Clark under center. He made a few mop-up appearances in '09, completing 8-of-11 passes for 66 yards. Newsome is a mobile quarterback built a lot like Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor, so expect to see him take off quite a bit when things break down in the pocket.

There won't be any issues running the pigskin as long as RB Evan Royster stays healthy. The Penn State back has rushed for 2,918 yards and 23 TDs in his career with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. Expect at least 200 more carries for the man out of Fairfax, VA as he makes his push towards the 2011 NFL Football Draft.

Growing pains could be a concern for what will be a very young Penn State defense. The Nittany Lions only return five starters from 2009, only two of which are in the front seven. This unit ranked No. 9 in the country at 274.5 YPG allowed and only conceded 12.2 PPG, No. 3 in the nation.

More bad news for Nittany Lions backers...The team has an atrociously difficult schedule this year that sees them travel to Alabama, Iowa and Ohio State. College football betting fans will love the fact that PSU went a perfect 4-0 ATS on the road last season. Including neutral site games, Penn State now 10-2 in its last 12 away from Happy Valley dating back to the '07 campaign.

The Nittany Lions were miserable covering spreads in non-conference play last year, however.  Penn State the year 0-4 ATS and went 0-3 ATS outside of the Big Ten versust FBS schools in the regular season. Backing Kent State on September 18 and Temple on September 25 might be a good idea, especially if Penn State is laying more than 17 points. PSU went 0-4 ATS last season in games with greater than 17-point spreads and hasn't beaten a NCAA college football spread that high since October 18, 2008, a stretch of five games.

If you're looking for advice on 'totals,' know that Penn State was one of the best 'under' teams in the land at home in 2009.  The Lions went 8-1 to the low side in those contests, and 9-4 'under' on the season overall.

Thanks to the hard schedule and the lack of returning starters, the Nittany Lions are plus 650 to take down the Big Ten and head to the Rose Bowl. If you like Joe Pa's boys to win the National Championship, you can find a cool plus 3000 at Bodog. NCAA College Football Betting Odds.

Realistically speaking, getting one road win out of those three horrors away from Happy Valley would be a success. That said, it's hard to see how the Nittany Lions are going to get through the home schedule unscathed as well.

Still, Penn State will be competitive. Though a trip to Pasadena is unlikely, there is a great chance for this team to win 8-9 games and head to a game like the Outback Bowl this winter.

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