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Penn State 2023 Season Preview & Win Total Prediction

Drew Allar Penn State Nittany Lions NCAA college football player
Drew Allar 15 of the Penn State Nittany Lions hands the ball off to Nicholas Singleton 10 before the Penn State Spring Football Game at Beaver Stadium on April 15 2023 in State College Pennsylvania Scott TaetschGetty ImagesAFP

NCAAF Pick: Penn State Over 9.5 Wins (-140) at Bet365


Are you ready for the Power 2? Now that college football is more than just a de facto professional sport, the FBS conferences are breaking their regional mold and going national, with the SEC and the Big Ten hoarding the country’s top programs for themselves.

Do the Penn State Nittany Lions still qualify as one of those programs? Perhaps, but they’re playing third fiddle to Michigan and Ohio State in the Big Ten – and they’ll be even further down the pecking order once USC arrives from the Pac-12 next year.

That must be where Penn State gets its betting value. The Lions went 10-2 SU and 9-3 ATS during the 2022 regular season before thumping Utah (+1.5) 35-21 at the Rose Bowl; at press time, Bet365 have their over/under for 2023 pegged at 9.5 wins on their NCAA college football odds board, with the Over priced at -140. Looks like we have another 10-win team on our hands here. 

The Franklin File

Beating the college football odds is old hat for James Franklin. This will be his 10th season at University Park, and it’s been a successful run for the most part – but again, not as successful as those other Big Ten goliaths, or Joe Paterno’s Nittany Lions for that matter.

The proof is in the pudding: 

  • 2021-22: 7-5 SU and ATS 
  • 2020-21: 4-5 SU and ATS 
  • 2019-20: 10-2 SU, 6-6 ATS 
  • 2018-19: 9-3 SU, 7-5 ATS 
  • 2017-18: 10-2 SU, 7-4-1 ATS 
  • 2016-17: 11-2 SU, 9-3-1 ATS 

Back to Greatness

That 2016 campaign was Year Three under the headset for Franklin, and it marked Penn State’s return to greatness: a Big Ten title, plus their first trip to the Rose Bowl since Paterno’s final appearance at the end of the 2009 season. If you ignore the 2020 pandemic year, Franklin has yet to post a losing ATS record since. 

You’d think the betting market would have caught up by now. But nope – the Lions just keep outperforming expectations, shielded from the toxic levels of hype that surround Michigan and Ohio State

Allar Allure

That could all change very soon. Penn State isn’t known for producing the kind of quarterbacks that captivate audiences nationwide – Kerry Collins is their most notable success. But there’s a very good chance Drew Allar will be at the top of the list once his college career is done.

Allar is a five-star recruit and a former Ohio Mr. Football who spent 2022 as a freshman backing up Sean Clifford, who enjoyed four strong years with Penn State without much fanfare. Franklin wisely gave Allar some reps in nine different games, and you could see the talent just dripping off him; he went 35-for-60 for 344 yards, four touchdowns and zero picks, with one rushing TD for good measure. 

Position to Succeed

Franklin is making sure Allar is put in the best position to succeed. The Nittany Lions offensive line is one of the best in the nation with LT Olumuyiwa Fashanu protecting Allar’s blind side, the ground game is solid as usual with RBs Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen, and the receiving corps welcomes two-time All-MAC WR Dante Cephas from Kent State. 

What more could a young quarterback ask for? 

Brown Out

How about one of the best defenses in the nation? Penn State ranked No. 5 in that department on last year’s F+ Ratings at BCF Toys – although they’ll probably slip a bit after losing safety Ji’Ayir Brown (San Francisco) and CB Joey Porter Jr. (Pittsburgh) to the NFL Draft.

This should still be one of the better defenses in the Big Ten. They’re returning most of their stars at the other two levels, including LB Abdul Carter and DEs Chop Robinson and Adisa Isaac. Even their re-modeled special teams should be in good hands (and feet) with first-team All-Ivy PK Alex Felkins from Columbia and Aussie punter Riley Thompson from Florida Atlantic. 

The Pick

With all this talent on the hoof, it almost seems unfair to give Penn State just 10 regular-season wins this year. They do have to play Ohio State at the Horseshoe on October 21, with the Buckeyes favored by 10 points on the early college football lines – that’s a “scheduled loss” for PSU right there.

Which leaves their home date against the Wolverines (-2) on November 11. 

When we did our Michigan season preview, we didn’t commit to which of Penn State or Ohio State they would defeat on their way to 11 wins; we’ll go ahead and put the L on the Lions, but that won’t stop us from taking Over 9.5 for the best value pick on the college football futures market.

NCAAF Pick: Penn State Over 9.5 Wins (-140) at Bet365


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