NCAAF · Sat (9/18) @ 7:30pm ET
|Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA|
Our Pick: PSU Penn State at -5.0 (-109). Claim two risk-free bets worth up to $2000 at PointsBet today!
Auburn and Penn State are both accustomed to being one of the more competitive teams in their respective conferences—which made their lackluster performances last season so frustrating. But, so far, two weeks into the 2021 college football season, things are looking up for both squads as both are undefeated.
However, only one can walk away from their Week Three matchup with a 3-0 record. According to the oddsmakers, Penn State is favored to win. But with an offense like Auburn’s that has the potential to put up points, it would be foolish to count the Tigers out.
Gus Malzahn kept the Tigers good, but could never quite get them over the threshold to greatness after his first season with the team (when it finished ranked No. 2 in the nation). So, when the team went 6-4 last season, the university decided it was time for a change. In comes a name many college football fans have probably never heard before—Bryan Harsin.
If his work at Arkansas State and Boise State is any indication, Auburn fans will be more than happy with him.
In the Tigers, he inherits a team many thought had enough talent to be great last season but was far from it. Bo Nix is a solid quarterback, but he struggles with his consistency and accuracy at times. But in the clutch, he seems to know how to get the job done. He looked great against and MAC team (Akron) in Week 1 completing 20 of 22 passes for 275 yards and three touchdowns.
But against an FCS team last weekend, Alabama State, he struggled to complete half of his passes (9-17 for 108 yards and two touchdowns).
Luckily, the Tigers have not needed much of a passing game since their rushing attack has been one of the best in the country. Against Akron, it accounted for 316 yards and five touchdowns. Last week, against Alabama State, Auburn had 364 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.
As for the defense, the unit had eight starters return from a defense that was not very good in 2020. But Derek Mason is a solid hire as the new defensive coordinator. While the unit underperformed in 2020, there is a lot of talent on the squad. If Mason can get more out of it, the Auburn D might be decent.
Statistically, they look incredible, but they have yet to face a competitive team.
Auburn vs. Penn State Full Sportsbook Odds
|Sat (9/18) @ 7:30pm ET||Auburn||+195||+176||+170||+170||+170||+163||+170|
|Sat (9/18) @ 7:30pm ET||Auburn||+6.5 -110||+5.5 -114||+5.0 -110||+5.0 -110||+5.0 -110||+5.0 -112||+5.0 -110|
|Penn State||-6.5 -110||-5.5 -106||-5.0 -110||-5.0 -110||-5.0 -110||-5.0 -109||-5.0 -110|
|Sat (9/18) @ 7:30pm ET||Auburn||o52.5 -110||o52.5 -110||o53 -110||o53 -110||o52.5 -110||o52.5 -112||o52.5 -115|
|Penn State||u52.5 -110||u52.5 -110||u53 -110||u53 -110||u52.5 -110||u52.5 -109||u52.5 -105|
Penn State Nittany Lions
Sean Clifford was not great in 2020, but he was the best part of the Penn State offense that season. But despite their struggles, the Nittany Lions still had one of the better offenses in the Big Ten. However, if the team is going to contend in 2021, Clifford needed to get better and he needed more help.
Two weeks into the season, it looks like the Penn State offense is better. Clifford has not been spectacular, but he has completed 62.9 percent of his passes for 477 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. The run game was practically shut down against Wisconsin (18 carries for 50 yards and a touchdown).
But it went for 240 yards and two touchdowns against Ball State.
As for the defense, it did not have too many starters coming back. But so far, it seems to be doing just fine. Wisconsin is not an offensive powerhouse, but they held the Badgers run game to just a per-carry average of 3.1 yards (180 yards on 58 carries).
After recording four interceptions last season, the Penn State D already has four picks this season.
It is not a proven squad, but James Franklin is a solid recruiter, and his staff has a talent for fixing glitches as the season progresses. They will certainly be tested on both sides of the ball when SEC play gets underway soon.
Sports Betting Recommendation
It is always hard to judge just how well a team is going to play when it has yet to play anyone worth talking about. On paper, Auburn looks like a fantastic team. But they should have destroyed the two teams they have played so far (and did). How will they fare against a decent Penn State team?
That is hard to say. The Nittany Lions, unlike Auburn, have played a Power Five team (Wisconsin). But the Badgers are not exactly an offensive juggernaut. So, can the Penn State defense keep the apparently explosive Auburn run game in check?
Yes—and the Nittany Lions offense will not have too hard of a time moving the ball on offense.
Take Penn State to win against the spread and via the moneyline. As for the total, do not bank on this game being a high-scoring affair—take the under.