|Penn State Odds||-3 [BET NOW]|
|Nebraska Odds||+3 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-160/+135 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||56.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||12 p.m. ET|
Penn State’s season hasn’t gone according to plan through three weeks. After their fluky loss to Indiana, the Nittany Lions have suffered deserved, back-to-back defeats. With an average turnover margin of -1.67 turnovers per game, Penn State has largely shot itself in the foot in its losses.
However, if the locker room isn’t lost, there’s still a chance to recover.
Nebraska was the squeaky wheel that helped bring Big Ten play back, but through two games, it might be slightly be regretting the fight a little. Scott Frost was an offensive guru at UCF, averaging 48.2 points per game in 2017, but in his two full seasons with Nebraska, he’s managed 29 points per game. The Cornhuskers are scoring a lowly 15 points per game in two outings so far.
Nebraska has yet to hit an over on the season, while Penn State is 1-1-1 against the total. With these teams having significant offensive struggles and a weather forecast that should work against scoring, the total appears to be the value play.
Penn State Nittany Lions
We’re far removed from the time when Penn State was a legitimate playoff contender. It’s now averaging 26.3 points per game (82nd in the nation) and allowing 36.3 points per game, which ranks 94th overall.
Sean Clifford hasn’t been an elite quarterback, but he isn’t the main issue on offense, either. The Nittany Lions have a Passing Success Rate of 45%, averaging four 20-plus yard passes per game. The main concern with Clifford has been his propensity to turn the ball over.
Penn State has been decimated by injury at the running-back position. Journey Brown had to medically retire, and Noah Cain has been ruled out for the season with a foot injury. These injuries are likely the reason for its below-average 39.4% Rushing Success Rate and lack of explosive rushing plays.
The offensive line has been effective, averaging 3.2 line yards per attempt and allowing a small 9.2% Stuff Rate. Whether the running game leans on Clifford’s legs or one of the running backs, this matchup presents an opportunity to get things right, and it will likely be necessary with the weather conditions.
Defensively, the Nittany Lions have been better than their record states. They allow a Success Rate of 39.3%, and the strength of the defense is its ability to stop the run. Penn State allows a 37.8% Rushing Success Rate and holds opposing lines to just 2.5 Line Yards per attempt. Despite the team’s struggles, its still ranked inside the top 25 of Defensive SP+.
After leading the charge to return to play, Nebraska has been given no favors. Its season opener came against the prohibitive favorite to win the conference, and the Big Ten rejected its request to play a fill-in game when its scheduled opponent shut down due to COVID-19 issues.
When the Huskers finally returned for their second game, they struggled finishing off drives against Northwestern, amassing just 13 points despite racking up 442 yards.
The passing game has been well below average. It owns a 40.3% Passing Success Rate, averages 6.0 yards per attempt and has yet to throw a touchdown. The combination of Adrian Martinez and Luke McCaffrey has been unable to create offense through the air.
The Cornhuskers are relying heavily on their running game, with a rush percentage of 54.8%. Their Rushing Success Rate (55.7) ranks second best nationally, and they’ve averaged two 20-plus yard runs per game.
Defensively, Nebraska is a bit of a liability. It allows a 47.7% Success Rate and have created Havoc on just 13.8% of plays. It’s particularly been a liability against the pass, with a 62% Success Rate Allowed.
However, with wind hindering the passing game, that’s unlikely to be the main method for moving the ball in this contest.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Neither team is living up to its respective preseason expectations, which is particularly noticeable on the offensive side of the ball. Penn State matches up fairly well with Nebraska, but there’s a legitimate concern that Franklin has lost the locker room.
In order to avoid another lackadaisical performance from Penn State, I’m playing the total and banking on these offenses to remain ineffective.
The weather forecast for this game is projecting sustained winds at more than 14 miles per hour, and with these teams already struggling offensively, this pushes the play clearly to the under.
I’m taking the total going under 56.5 points and would back it as low as 50.5.
Pick: Under 56.5 (down to 50.5)