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Penn State in 2014: For entertainment purposes only


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 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

Akron -18

@Rutgers -6

UMass -31

Northwestern -3.5

@Michigan +9

Ohio State +8

Maryland +2

@Indiana +5

Temple -16.5

@Illinois -5

Michigan State +8



If They Played (projected line) (Penn State favored in both on neutral field):

Pittsburgh -3

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)



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Author: Chris Adamski

Chris Adamski joined Trib Total Media's Steelers coverage team in 2014 after spending two seasons on the Penn State football beat for the Trib. Before that, he had worked in Pittsburgh sports media for more than a decade, extensively covering the Steelers, Pirates, Penguins, Pitt, Duquesne and the WPIAL.

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