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Penn State Football Predictions

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The Penn State Nittany Lions certainly exceeded expectations in head coach Bill O’Brien’s first season on the job. He didn’t know what he was getting himself into with the Jerry Sandusky scandal, but he stood by his troops and led them to a very successful 8-4 season. Miraculously, O’Brien opted not to leave Penn State for the NFL in the offseason.

The Nittany Lions go from having six returning starters last year to 14 this year. Plus, they ranked 4th in the Big Ten in outgaining their opponents by 82 yards per game last season despite being so inexperienced. However, while there is a lot of experience returning, they lose some of their best players.

Penn State will have to replace starting quarterback Matt McGloin, who completed 60.5 percent of his passes for 3,271 yards with 24 touchdowns and only five interceptions. He was the leader of this team, and he’ll certainly be missed. Highly touted freshman Christian Hackenberg has the inside track to the starting position this fall.

Also, the defense has to part ways with four of its top five tacklers. That includes first-team All-American LB Michael Mauti (95 tackles, three INT) and second team All-Big Ten LB Gerald Hodges (109 tackles, 8.5 for loss, 2 INT).

Last Season
Big Ten (Leaders)
Record
ATS Record
Over/Under
Points For
Points Against
2nd
8-4
9-2-1
7-5
29.1
19.1
2013 Schedule
2013 Penn State Nittany Lions Schedule
Date Opponent
Spread (Est.)
Win Chance
8/31 Syracuse (E. Rutherford)
-6.5
0.65
9/7 Eastern Michigan
-33
1
9/14 UCF
-17
1
9/21 Kent State
-27.5
1
10/5 @ Indiana
-6
0.66
10/12 Michigan
+2.5
0.44
10/26 @ Ohio State
+16
0.00
11/2 Illinois
-19
1
11/9 @ Minnesota
-8
0.73
11/16 Purdue
-13.5
0.87
11/23 Nebraska
PK
0.50
11/30 @ Wisconsin
+9
0.24
Estimated Wins: 8.09

I have gone through and listed my projected spreads for all 12 of Penn State’s games for the upcoming season. I have the Nittany Lions being favored in eight games, an underdog in three, and a pick ‘em in another. This means that they should be in the 8-9 win range at season’s end.

They have a great shot at getting off to a fast start with four fairly easy non-conference games against Syracuse, Eastern Michigan, UCF and Kent State. They also have a winnable Big Ten opener at Indiana, though it won’t be a cake walk.

Penn State gets into the meat of its schedule with a home showdown against Michigan, followed by a road game at Ohio State in which it will likely be an underdog in both contests. It has three cupcake conference games against Illinois, Minnesota and Purdue before closing out the season with Nebraska and Wisconsin.

This is a very reasonable schedule because even though the Nittany Lions draw both Nebraska and Michigan from the Legends Division, they get them both at home. However, they draw the two toughest Leaders Division opponents in Ohio State and Wisconsin on the road.

Odds (Courtesy of Bovada)
Regular Season Win Total
Big Ten Championship Odds
National Championship Odds
8.5
Not Eligible
Not Eligible
Season Predictions

O’Brien clearly has a way of getting his players to believe in the program despite the postseason ban. He has managed to be able to continue to recruit and keep his players around even though they know they will only be playing in 12 games this season.

Still, this program loses 32 lettermen from a year ago, and it isn’t able to bring in the kind of talent it would have if not for the Sandusky scandal. However, you cannot question the fight that this team brings game in and game out as evidenced by last year’s 8-win season.

Penn State could have easily packed it in after an 0-2 start with losses to Ohio and Virginia. It would fight back, winning eight of its final 10 games with its only losses coming to then-No. 9 Ohio State and then-No. 18 Nebraska. That fight will be there again in 2013.

Unfortunately, the Nittany Lions simply lose too much in McGloin and and on defense for me to pick them to finish any higher than 3rd in the Leaders Division. Plus, they get the top two division contenders in Wisconsin and Ohio State on the road in 2013, which will ultimately be their downfall as they drop both of those contests. Another 8-win season is attainable, but that’s likely the best-case scenario.

2013 Projections
Big Ten (Leaders)
Big Ten Record
Overall Record
Win Total Prediction
3rd
4-4
7-5
Under 8.5
Penn State Football Resources
More Penn State Football Predictions

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Big Ten
Legends
Leaders
Penn State
Conferences
About the Author: Jack Jones has been one of the top experts on the site while competing against roughly 80 of the best handicappers in the world each year. He has made most of his money on the hardwood. In fact, he has finished in the Top-5 in college basketball each of the last three seasons (#5 2011-12, #5 2012-13, #3 2013-14). He was also the No. 1 NBA handicapper from 2012-13. As of early April, Jack has compiled an 802-631 basketball run that has seen his $1,000 game players profit $124,030. He was the No. 3 College Football handicapper in 2012-13. While he doesn't have any top finishes in the NFL, he has produced steady profits without killing his clients. Jack also was your No. 7 MLB handicapper in 2009 and backed it up with a No. 8 MLB finish in 2010. No matter the sport, the one thing you can count on with Jack Jones is that he won't leave any stone unturned. You'll know why he is on a game with his detailed analysis, and more times than not, you will come out well ahead against your book. Head on over to Jack's premium pick page to see what he has in store for tonight!
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