Penn State Nittany Lions Football 2020 Betting Preview

What is the betting outlook for the Penn State Nittany Lions in 2020? SI Gambling Insider Frankie Taddeo dives into the odds along with his best bets.
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Coming off of an 11-2 season and a blowout win over Memphis in the Cotton Bowl, the Penn State Nittany Lions are one of the top contenders to win the Big Ten in 2020 as well as one of the final teams playing for the College Football Playoff.

The Nittany Lions have the ingredients for a very good season with a talented dual-threat quarterback, solid depth at running back, and a good defense possessing arguably the best player in the country. Head Coach James Franklin has his work cut out this season with several challenging foes on the schedule, as well as finding a way to fill the tremendous void on the offensive side of the ball following the departure of star wideout K.J. Hamler to the NFL.

According to PointsBet Sportsbook, Penn State’s season win total projection stands at 9.5 wins, juiced at odds of -120 to the over. 

2020 Penn State Nittany Lions Regular Season Win Total Odds

Odds courtesy of PointsBet Sportsbook

Odds courtesy of PointsBet Sportsbook

2020 Penn State Nittany Lions Schedule

Week 1 - Sept. 5 vs Kent State

Week 2 - Sept. 12 at Virginia Tech

Week 3 - Sept. 19 vs San Jose State

Week 4 - Sept. 26 vs Northwestern

Week 5 - Oct. 3 at Michigan

Week 6 - BYE

Week 7 - Oct. 17 vs Iowa

Week 8 - Oct. 24 at Ohio State

Week 9 - Oct. 31 at Indiana

Week 10 - Nov. 7 at Nebraska

Week 11 - Nov. 14 vs Michigan State

Week 12 - Nov. 21 vs Maryland

Week 13 - Nov. 28 at Rutgers

Penn State has compiled a 42-11 record over the past four seasons, and should get out of the gates to an undefeated start as heavy favorites in their first four games. According to the oddsmakers, the closest games in the first month will come in their first road game of 2020; when they travel to Blacksburg as a full touchdown favorite in their first-ever meeting with Virginia Tech.

The Nittany Lions are underdogs for the first time in 2020 when they head on the road for the second time in their Big Ten showdown with Michigan in Week 5. Currently, Penn State is a 2.5-point road underdog versus John Harbaugh and the Wolverines.

Penn State will return home off their bye in Week 7 in a game that poses as a ‘trap’ look-ahead spot with the season’s toughest matchup versus Ohio State on the horizon the following week. The oddsmakers have listed the Nittany Lions as 6-point road dogs in their pivotal tilt with highly touted Ohio State. This game could potentially determine the winner of the Big Ten East as well as carry College Football Playoff implications.

Things could also be tight in Week 10 when they travel to Lincoln as 7-point favorites against Nebraska. The fight for the “Land-Grant Trophy” in Week 11 against Michigan State will not be easy for Penn State to keep in its possession, but the task is less difficult in the friendly confines of University Park.

Penn State Odds to Win Big Ten East 

Odds courtesy of PointsBet Sportsbook

Odds courtesy of PointsBet Sportsbook

PointsBet Sportsbook is offering Penn State as the second overall betting choice to win the Big Ten East at odds of +450. All bettors who believe the Nittany Lions will win the Big Ten East will get back $450 for every $100 wagered. 

Penn State Odds to Win Big Ten Conference

Odds courtesy of PointsBet Sportsbook

Odds courtesy of PointsBet Sportsbook

With projections that envision a potential two or three-loss regular season, the PointsBet Sportsbook is offering Penn State as the second choice in conference wagering at odds of 5/1 to emerge as Big Ten Champions since last accomplishing the feat back in 2016. All bettors who believe the Nittany Lions will win the Big Ten Championship Game will get back $500 for every $100 wagered. 

Odds for Penn State Players to Win 2020 Heisman Trophy

As we have previously highlighted here at SI Gambling, Penn State currently has only one player listed in the Heisman Trophy odds at William Hill: quarterback Sean Clifford (50/1). Penn State running back John Cappelletti (1973) remains the Lions' one and only Heisman Trophy winner.

Penn State’s Odds to Win the 2020-21 College Football Playoff

Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook

Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook

James Franklin's defense boasts arguably the best defensive player in the country in linebacker Micah Parsons. The success of Penn State in 2020 will fall onto the throwing shoulder of quarterback Sean Clifford, who completed 59.2 percent of his passes for 2,654 yards and 23 touchdowns in 2019.

Clifford could prove to be the best quarterback in the Big Ten in his second season as starter. The Nittany Lion signal-caller will need to exceed expectations if he wants any shot at the Heisman; as Clifford is listed at 40-1 odds to win the trophy according to William Hill Sportsbook.

After a deeper dive into their schedule, I really like the chances of Penn State to find a way to win at least 10 games for the fourth time in five years. I love the potential of Clifford under new offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca coming over from Minnesota. The schedule sets up nicely outside of a brutal three-game stretch against Michigan, Iowa and Ohio State. Furthermore, the bye week comes at a favorable time and they are afforded the luxury of facing the Buckeyes and Hawkeyes in Happy Valley.

The Play: Penn State Season Win Total: OVER 9.5 (-120)

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