College Football Week 1 Preview: Penn State Nittany Lions vs. UCF Knights

Penn State Nittany Lions vs. UCF Knights
Saturday, 8/30/14, 8:30 AM EST
Opening Point Spread:  Penn State -4
Current Betting Line:  Penn State -4
Opening Total:  N/A
Current Total:  N/A
Odds Courtesy of 5Dimes

The Penn State Nittany Lions will open up the James Franklin era overseas
The Penn State Nittany Lions will open up the James Franklin era overseas

Penn State will begin the James Franklin era in unfamiliar surroundings, as it prepares to play in a 82,300 seat venue in Dublin, Ireland.  The Nittany Lions will be a team to watch this season due to quarterback Christian Hackenberg, who threw for 2,955 yards and 20 touchdowns with 10 interceptions in his freshman campaign.  He’ll definitely miss top target Allen Robinson, which can’t be ignored when looking over the college football odds page, but tight end Jesse James is a nice safety blanket in the middle of the field.  Penn State has failed to cover the number in its last four games in month of August.

The Nittany Lions have won two of three meetings against the Knights, but they suffered a 34-31 setback as 4.5-point home favorites last year—getting out-gained by a 507-455 margin.  Penn State will begin life without defensive line coach Larry Johnson after 14 years on campus, as he’s taken on the same role at Ohio State.  On the other side of the football, Hackenberg may need to get rid of the ball quicker in the early going, considering the team welcomes back just one starter on the offensive line.

UCF made its biggest splash since becoming a FBS program in 1979, as it tallie a 52-42 victory over the Baylor Bears as 16-point underdogs in the 2014 Fiesta Bowl.  The Knights return 15 total starters, but will have to replace starting quarterback Blake Bortles, who was selected third overall in the NFL draft.  The roster possesses just 25 career passes, but could be helped by Boise State transfer Nick Patti.  UCF is 6-0 ATS in its last six non-conference affairs.

The Knights are going to be formidable on defense with top tacklers Clayton Geathers and Terrance Plummer back in the fold, while all of their returners combined for 12 interceptions.  UCF may be able to overcome offensive growing pains with a new leader under center, as it possesses one of the more talented special teams units in the country.

Sports bettors will likely back the Knights due to their 4-2 ATS mark in their last six games on a neutral field.

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