Penn State had a lot of turnover from last year’s 11-2 squad, but it still projects to be one of the best in the Big Ten and country. The early Schedule is mostly favorable and that includes an Appalachian State team breaking in a new quarterback. The Nittany Lions are -23 point home favorites with an over/under of 54.5 at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
Saquon Barkley is gone and they have a new offensive coordinator, but the offense doesn’t expect to drop off much, mainly because of Trace McSorley under center. He could be set for even bigger numbers after completing 66.5% of his passes for 28 touchdowns and another 11 TDs on the ground last year. The backfield will probably be mostly a committee with Miles Sanders leading the pack, while wide out has enough between Juwan Johnson and DeAndre Thompkins. Maybe the best news for McSorley is that Four starters are back on the line and that will be why he can carve defenses like that of Appalachian State.
It’s not that the Mountaineers have a bad defense – they’ve been excellent under SCott Satterfield – only that McSorley is one of the best quarterbacks in the nation. App. State only allowed 20.2 points per Game last year and that included31 to Georgia and 20 to Wake Forest. They may cause Penn State some problems, but holding this group to under 20 or even 30 points will be difficult, especially with a couple key pieces gone from last year’s squad.
The big question for the Mountaineers this season is what’s going to happen at quarterback with Four-year starter Taylor LAmb gone. Zac Thomas may eventually become as good as LAmb, but in his first season as a starter, it’s hard to see him getting this offense to the 33.5 points per Game it had in 2017. Jalin Moore returns at running back, but only two guys return on the line and that’ll be the major problem against bigger schools. If Moore can’t find room against PSU, that’ll leave Thomas having to do most of the work and that means trouble even with wide out Thomas Hennigan helping out.
Maybe the best news and main reason App. State will be able to cover this Game is because of PSU’s overhaul on the defensive side as only three starters return. The Lions will still be good, but reaching last year’s levels is a stretch even though a lot of the new starters have plenty of experience. That could at least leave holes for Moore to gain some yards or Thomas to hit an open receiver.
The Mountaineers will try and focus on the ground Game to keep this lower scoring, but if they have a couple early three-and-outs, that could be trouble right away, especially if McSorley finds a groove. This isn’t a guaranteed blowout for Penn State because App. State has been a solid team the last few years. Even with a new quarterback, they’ll still compete and after losing only 31-10 at Georgia last year, there should be plenty of backers on ASU’s side.
Our Pick – Penn State -23.5