- Spread: Penn State -25.0
- Moneyline: Penn State -1752; Maryland +1025
- Over/Under: 62.0
*Odds via PointsBet.com
There will be quite a few excellent college football games on for fans to watch this weekend. Clemson-Notre Dame should be an entertaining one, as should the Georgia-Florida game. Michigan-Indiana could be a pivotal one in the Big Ten picture, and West Virginia-Texas has Big 12 championship implications.
But from a betting perspective, none of them are the most intriguing game of the weekend. That designation goes to the Penn State-Maryland game.
Yes, a game between a team that has won just 14 conference games since joining the Big Ten in 2014 and a winless Penn State team will be the game to bet on this weekend. The notion sounds a little crazy, but it is surprisingly true.
Penn State Nittany Lions Betting Preview (0-2)
The Nittany Lions came into the season as a team some thought had a chance of challenging Ohio State for the Big Ten conference title. Yes, they needed to find a few new starters, especially on defense, but every team does. But with the core they had coming back, Penn State was supposed to be dangerous.
As it turns out, they are—but only to themselves.
Even though they outgained Indiana 488-211, too many penalties and turnovers led toa 36-35 overtime loss. Expectations were not super high against Ohio State last week.
On defense, they could not stop Indiana when they needed to and had no chance of stopping Ohio State. Offensively, they can generate some yards in the passing and running games, but they have been their own worst enemy. They did much better as far as penalties go against Ohio State, but the turnover was still costly.
It would help if someone other than Clifford could gain some yards on the ground. Devyn Ford has been unimpressive so far.
It does not look good for Penn State so far this season. But there is the genuine possibility that they just needed a couple of games to work some kinks out before they could get on track. A game against Maryland’s porous defense might be just what they need.
Maryland Terrapins Betting Preview (1-1)
It is safe to say the expectations were low for the Terrapins coming into 2020 after going 3-9 in 2019 (1-8 in conference play). It looked like their low expectations might still be too high with how they looked in every facet of the game against Northwestern in their season opener.
Heading into their game against Minnesota last week, it was supposed to be much of the same. The game was viewed as more of a chance for Minnesota to get on track than anything else. But it ended up being a coming-out party for Maryland’s new quarterback, Taulia Tagovailoa.
After a dreadful game in his Maryland debut the week before, Taulia Tagovailoa looked a lot like his older brother did during his Alabama days. He ended up accounting for 453 total yards (394 passing and 59 rushing) and five touchdowns (three passing and two rushing).
The second rushing touchdown came in dramatic fashion when he scored the go-ahead score in overtime. But after closing the gap to 13 and then getting the ball back with 3:49 to go, another Sean Clifford interception (his third of the year) put the final nail in the coffin.
He did not do it all on his own, of course. Running back Jake Funk bounced back from his dreadful opener to record 243 total yards and two touchdowns. Tagovailo also had two receivers total 100+ yards Jeshaun Jones and Dontay Demus Jr.).
However, what could hold the Terrapins as the season moves forward is their defense. Northwestern ran for 325 yards on them two weeks ago, and Minnesota’s Mohamed Ibrahim gashed them for 207 yards and four touchdowns.
Maryland at Penn State Betting Prediction
The big question mark for this game is what version of Maryland’s Taulia Tagovailoa will show up. Will it be the one that looked like he belonged on the practice squad against Northwestern? Or will it be the one that looked like a Heisman contender against Minnesota?
The Northwestern defense was a lot tougher than Minnesota’s, so maybe he is as good as he appeared last week. It certainly helps that Penn State’s defense does not appear to be too tough. But without seeing more than two games from him, it is hard to know what fans will get.
Jake Funk will not find it as easy to run against the Penn State defense, either.
Penn State should get their offense going more, on the ground and in the passing game, against the Terrapins. Their defense should be able to slow down the Maryland offense but will probably not stop it.
But will the Nittany Lions shoot themselves in the foot as they did against Indiana? Maybe.
So—who is going to win?
It would not be shocking to see Maryland pull out the upset win, but Penn State will probably win this one. However, it is highly unlikely they cover the 25-point spread. As for the over/under, with the potential in these offenses, take the over.
James’ Best Bet: Maryland +25