Beaver Stadium will be rocking this week as the Penn State Nittany Lions host the Pittsburgh Panthers. Last year, Pitt defeated Penn State and the Nittany Lions definitely have revenge on their minds. Game time in State College, PA, is 12:30 P.M. ET.
Last week, Pitt (1-0) almost blew a 21-0 lead against Youngstown State, barely escaping with a 28-21 victory. Some pundits believe that Pitt was running a vanilla scheme last week, so they wouldn’t show Penn State anything. Pitt is hoping to duplicate last year’s success against the Nittany Lions.
PSU (1-0) destroyed Akron in their opening game. Although they have bigger games on the schedule this year, like Ohio State and Michigan, this Week 2 contest is circled on their calendars. The Pitt-PSU rivalry goes back decades. It used to be one of the biggest games in Central and Western Pennsylvania. There’s still that underlying hatred for each other. Add the embarrassing defeat from last year, and PSU is definitely going to bring their A-game this week.
The spread opened with PSU as an 18.5 point favorite. It has since gone up to 3 touchdowns at -21 points. The Over/Under fell from 67.5 total points to 66.5.
Last year, Pitt had the good fortune of playing PSU early in the season before the Nittany Lions found their identity. A few weeks later, PSU was rolling through the Big-10 conference and nearly making the CFP. This year, both PSU and Pitt come into this game as two different teams than they were last year.
For Pitt, they have lost numerous key contributors. First, they lost their offensive coordinator Matt Canada who went to LSU. Additionally, they lost the heart of their offense in quarterback Nathan Peterman who left for the NFL. A lot of credit needs to be given to Peterman as his efforts last season not only in the game against PSU, but also throughout the year is what made Pitt so dangerous.
Additionally, the Panthers lost three more players to the NFL, including a few along the o-line. Their defense has a rebuilt front 7 and their secondary looked bad against Bowling Green last week. To make matters worse, they will be without one of their best defensive players in Jordan Whitehead. The safety is still suspended for two more games.
Penn State comes into this game with a two-headed monster. Heisman candidate Saquon Barkley put up 172 yards on the ground last week against Akron and did it in a limited amount of time due to the route. You can expect him to put up at least 125 against Pitt this week.
If Pitt loads up the box to stop Barkley, they will get torched by Trace McSorely who threw two touchdowns and ran for one touchdown last week. Not only is he dangerous in the pocket, but he has the ability to break containment and make big plays on the ground and in the air. With a shaky Pitt secondary, McSorely is poised for a big passing game.
PSU is 10-0-1 ATS in their last 11 games overall, 7-0-1 ATS in their last 8 games on grass, and 3-1 ATS in their last 4 games that they were favored by more than 2 touchdowns (10.5 points -21 points). Pitt is 5-11 ATS in their last 16 games.
Pitt held on last year to win at home 42-39. With less talent on their team, and a vengeful Nittany Lion squad, look for PSU to keep their foot on the gas pedal in this game and winning by 30+ points.