Most fans anticipate the college football season because they get to watch their alma mater each Saturday. Others look forward to college football for something else, the betting. While the kickoff of the 2014 season is still about two months away, it’s never too early for the sportsbooks to start setting betting lines for some of the games. The Golden Nugget in Las Vegas recently released lines on 200 top college football games, three of which the Nittany Lions are involved in.
Unfortunately for Penn State, Vegas doesn’t seem to have a ton of confidence in the Nittany Lions in some of their biggest games of the year, as they are underdogs in two of the three games listed.
The Nittany Lions start the season in Dublin, Ireland in the Croke Park Classic against the UCF Knights. After going into Beaver Stadium and pulling off an upset victory last season, the Knights will enter with confidence. However, this time UCF won’t have the luxury of running back Storm Johnson, who rushed for 117 yards against the Nittany Lions, and quarterback Black Bortles, who threw for 288 yards and a touchdown.
With both of those star offensive players gone, along with some on the offensive line for the Knights, Penn State is listed as the early 2.5-point favorite. This game is really a wildcard with the unique travel schedule, the neteural site and the fact that the Nittany Lions have a brand new coaching staff.
The next Penn State game that has an early line is the October 11 prime time matchup at Michigan. The Wolverines are 7-point favorites, presumably in part to the large, raucous crowd that will fill Michigan Stadium. The Nittany Lions were 3-point underdogs last season at home, but pulled off a miraculous upset in four overtimes. This line is bound to change, but on the surface, it seems high for a team that’s returning a star quarterback and an experienced defense.
Not surprisingly, the Nittany Lions are also underdogs on October 25 against the Ohio State Buckeyes, though the number may be higher than it should. Penn State opens as a 9-point dog to the Buckeyes, despite the matchup be at home during the annual Whiteout. The Nittany Lions have lost two-straight to Ohio State, including last year’s 63-14 drubbing in Columbus. The Buckeyes return a lot of experience, including quarterback Braxton Miller, who’s found much success against the Nittany Lions.
There’s little doubt that Buckeyes won’t again be one of the top teams in the conference, making a victory over Penn State likely, but don’t get too comfortable with the 9-point line, as the Nittany Lions figure to be more competitive in this year’s matchup.
Of course, all of these lines will change numerous times before the actual games are played, but as it stands now, Vegas does not like the Nittany Lions against the other Big Ten powerhouses.