The Penn State Nittany Lions have very quietly put together a solid season. They’re currently 6-1 with their lone loss coming to mighty Alabama, and they’re technically in first place of the Leaders division, a half game in front of Wisconsin. They head to Evanston, Illinois for a game against the Northwestern Wildcats this Saturday night.
The line opened with Penn State as 4 point road favorites and the line has held steady so far. Based on the fact that Northwestern has burned me the past two weeks as attractive underdogs against Michigan and Iowa, for a free pick this Saturday, consider fading Northwestern and backing the red hot Nittany Lions.
It’s gotten personal between me and Northwestern. Two weeks ago they were getting a solid touchdown at home from Michigan and led by 10 points at half. Then the second half happened. The Wildcats got hammered 28-0 for the remainder of the game, managed to make Denard Robinson look like a decent throwing quarterback, and ultimately lost the game and failed to cover the spread. I figured it was just a fluke.
The next week they headed to Kinnick Stadium where they’d played exceptionally well in recent years. And they were getting 6 ½ points – not bad considering they had beaten Iowa straight up as lined underdogs the previous three seasons. After trailing early, the Wildcats fought back to tie the game at 17. Then the fourth quarter happened. Northwestern gave up a staggering 24 points and lost by 10. I’ve had it with Northwestern. They stink. Neither Michigan nor Iowa is that good. Not really.
This week, a play on Penn State has as much to do with Northwestern as it does with Penn State. Having said that, the Nittany Lions have played some decent football this season despite an unsettled quarterback situation. Their games are painful to watch, but they’ve managed to win 6 times and lose just once, which means they’re doing something right.
The Penn State defense has carried this team. The D hasn’t given up more than 18 points all season, except for the game against the Crimson Tide in which they surrendered a respectable 27 points. Purdue managed to put up 18 last week but the Boilermakers are one of those underdogs that can give just about any team a tough time on the wrong day. The week before, Penn State held a much better Iowa offense to only a field goal. It’s possible that the Nittany Lions had a bit of letdown last week after the important win against Iowa.
Offensively, Silas Redd is the team’s workhorse. Redd has over 700 yards on the year at almost 5 yards per carry and is having an all-conference type of season so far. Matt McGloin and Rob Bolden have split time at quarterback, and although each has his weaknesses, together they’re not bad. McGloin can throw while Bolden can run. Again, it hasn’t been pretty but the Nittany Lions have found ways to win.
Also, this is an important game for Penn State. After Northwestern, they finish the season with home games against Illinois and Nebraska, followed by road games at Ohio State and Wisconsin. That’s a brutal 4 game stretch and you can bet the Penn State coaching staff has informed its team just how important this game is in the bigger picture.
If Northwestern burns me again this week, they’ll be on pace to challenge the 2006 Wake Forest team that lost to Louisville in the Orange Bowl. That team just had it in for me. Even the bowl game, which I played Wake Forest getting 10 ½, ended in an 11 point loss. I think consistent bettors have all had that team that seems to defy logic in order to screw them. It’s still early, but Northwestern is on that path. For now though, I don’t mind fading Northwestern and backing the Nittany Lions. But I think I’ll buy a point and lay 3 for a little insurance. Consider backing the road favorites at a field goal. Good luck!