Penn State and Pitt come under very different scenarios into rematches Saturday against teams they played last September.
The No. 22 Nittany Lions travel to Auburn as a field goal favorite at Pennsylvania’s online sportsbooks for an afternoon game against an SEC team they beat in a 28-20 thriller at Beaver Stadium last year.
The 23rd-ranked Panthers, on the other hand, are licking wounds from both last week’s 34-27 home loss to Tennessee and the stunning 44-41 upset Western Michigan hung on them a year ago. On Saturday night, they are favored by 10 points in visiting Kalamazoo after being favored by more than two touchdowns when hosting the Broncos last year.
Temple, meanwhile, is a heavy underdog of more than 17 points when hosting Rutgers Saturday.
PSU can make statement with 2nd big win
Penn State has one of the spotlight games of the week in facing Auburn on CBS. Both teams are 2-0, but the Nittany Lions’ record includes a reputable win at Purdue, while the Tigers have faced lower-caliber opponents in beating Mercer 42-16 and San Jose State 24-16.
Most of the sportsbooks listed Penn State as a 3-point favorite Thursday (DraftKings, FOX Bet, and Betway were offering reduced juice of -105 to take the Nittany Lions), with FanDuel deviating by offering -3.5 at even money on Penn State.
PointsBet showed up along with DraftKings and Betway with the best moneyline price on Penn State at -145. The points total was a consistent 47.5, with DraftKings and Betway reducing the vig to -105 to bet the over.
Coach James Franklin’s team comes off a 46-10 win over Ohio University that offered the first optimism for the running game in some time, as freshman Nicholas Singleton raced for 176 yards and two touchdowns on just 10 carries. Still, Auburn’s defensive strength is against the run, and it was Sean Clifford who beat the Tigers last year by completing 28 of 32 passes with three TDs.
Just like last year, Auburn is expected to rely on its own running game offensively. Tank Bigsby is back, with 198 yards and three TDs in two games after running for 102 yards and two scores against Penn State last year.
A second nationally televised road win to start the season against a huge crowd favoring the opponent would be a big boon to perceptions of the Nittany Lions, almost certainly moving them into the Top 20.
QB situation uncertain for Pitt in revenge game
Pitt (1-1) wouldn’t have needed Saturday’s overtime loss to Tennessee to feel humble playing at Western Michigan, considering that rather inexplicable upset in an otherwise wondrous 2021 season for the Panthers. The Broncos are also 1-1 after beating Ball State 37-30 last week, following a 35-13 opening loss to Michigan State.
While FanDuel was among the sites Thursday making Pitt a 10.5-point favorite for the night game, a Panthers backer would only have to give 10 at BetMGM, Caesars, PointsBet, Betfred, or FOX Bet (although the latter has higher juice at -118). PointsBet was offering -351 as the best moneyline return on the Panthers. The over/under was listed at 47.5 across the board.
The obvious question for the Panthers this week comes at quarterback, where starter Kedon Slovis was knocked out by injury in the first half against the Vols and backup Nick Patti showed a heavy limp from injury while finishing. Coach Pat Narduzzi has been tight-lipped thus far on the situation behind center for Saturday’s game. Otherwise, one piece of good news for the Panthers’ offense was how running back Israel Abanikanda scampered for 154 yards on 25 carries against Tennessee.
The Broncos will play redshirt freshman Jack Spolek at quarterback, which should limit their ability to come anywhere close to matching the surprising 44 points scored against a usually stalwart Panthers defense last September.
Owls try to snap losing streak vs. Rutgers
The good news for Temple last week was it got a rare win, but it was only against Lafayette by a 30-14 score, which seemed to do little to prepare the Owls for anything like a credible Big Ten opponent, even at home. Rutgers, in fact, has beaten Temple five straight times, and the oddsmakers deem it very likely to be six straight after Saturday afternoon.
Most of the betting sites have posted a 17.5-point spread, but a Temple backer could get 18.5 points at FanDuel, with -114 juice. FanDuel also has the best moneyline return for an upset at +720, and the lowest points total at 43.5, while BetMGM goes up to 44.5.
Rutgers won the meeting 61-14 last year in its stadium. The new wild card this year could be E.J. Warner, son of former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner, if first-year Temple coach Stan Drayton starts him over D’Wan Mathis. Warner came in against Lafayette and threw for 173 yards and two TDs.
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