On Friday, I posted my predictions for Penn State’s 2014 season. But what about the “experts?”
I reached out to one, Vegas oddsmaker Steve Merril of ProSportsInfo.com. He provided some game-by-game info for the Nittany Lions, as well as predicted season win total and even a division title line.
Some of what I took from all of it: First, PSU is favored in six games, underdogs in six. That said, the Lions are bigger favorites than they are ‘dogs, on average, meaning that a 7 ½ over/under win total makes mathematical sense.
I was surprised that Maryland, if the game was played today, would be a favorite at Beaver Stadium. This is especially surprising considering Penn State would be “only” an 8-point underdog at home to both Ohio State and Michigan State – top-10 teams. Being a five-point underdog to Indiana is also, in the Blue & White Nation, akin to sacrilege. Then again, there’s precedent.
On the more positive side, I thought maybe Akron would be less of an underdog in Week 2. Also, Western PA Penn State fans can hold bragging rights – in a theoretical Vegas world – against their Pitt and West Virginia fan counterparts. Just for fun, I asked Steve who would be favored if the Lions played the Panthers or Mountaineers.
PSU fans can take heart in one last thing: According to Merril, James Franklin has a .641 winning percentage against the spread in his coaching career. With every Big Ten game – plus the UCF opener next week – a spread of fewer than 10 points, expect a lot of close games this season. And if Franklin’s team is covering the spread in them, that COULD mean lots of on-field wins.
Enjoy, for entertainment purposes only, of course…
Season Wins: 7.5 Over/Under
To Win Big Ten East division: 5/1
Game Lines (the number listed in each game is the projected Penn State line as either a favorite (-) or underdog (+) in that game:
UCF (@Ireland) +1
Ohio State +8
Michigan State +8
If They Played (projected line) (Penn State favored in both on neutral field):
West Virginia -3.5
(Note: I followed up with Merril about Pitt-vs.-WVU. He said a Backyard Brawl renewal would “maybe” give Pitt a one-point edge on a neutral field, if not a Pick ‘Em).
James Franklin (ATS= Against the Spread (pointspread) / SU = Straight-up)
Overall: 25-14 ATS
Off a Loss: 9-5 ATS (10-4 SU)
At Home: 14-5 ATS (9-3 ATS home favorite) (5-2 ATS home dog)
Away: 9-7 ATS (3-3 ATS away favorite) (6-4 ATS away dog)