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Best College Football Lines for Week 8

Best College Football Lines for Week 8 – Penn State Nittany Lions

by Matt Midlikowski

Welcome to the Week 8 edition of Matt Midlikowski’s “Best College Football Lines.” Throughout this article, an in-depth analysis of hand-selected games will identity the best CFB bets each week. The trend watch section offers the most important historical trends for each game. Finally, Matt touts one side of the game in the opinion section.

Michigan Wolverines at Penn State Nittany Lions (-9, O/U 47)

Game Overview

The Big Ten race has some juicy matchups over the next few weeks, and Michigan at Penn State this Saturday night is one of them. College Gameday is headed to Happy Valley and a white-out is ready to greet the Wolverines.

Michigan dominated last year’s contest, but it was Penn State that won by large margins in the previous two seasons. In fact, each of the last four games in this series has been decided by at least 12 points with an average margin of victory of 28 points. A closer contest is predicted this weekend with both teams ranked in the top 16.

Michigan is 5-1 (2-4 ATS), but their one loss could be more predictive of future outcomes than their five wins. UM was drubbed by Wisconsin three weeks ago, and Penn State (6-0, 4-2 ATS) compares favorably with the Badgers in many of the same categories, especially on defense.

Michigan did get a win against a tough Iowa team, but was limited to 10 points against a defense that profiles closely to Penn State’s. With Michigan outside the top 70 in both passing and rushing yards, fans start to wonder how they will move the ball on Saturday against the fourth best defense in the country.

Shea Patterson has yet to prove that he can carry this offense, and his 57% completion rate is part of the reason Michigan is way behind in time-of-possession at less than 28 minutes per game. Zach Charbonnet (4.8 yards per carry) leads the team with five rushing scores, but he is listed as questionable for this Saturday’s game with an undisclosed injury. Donovan Peoples-Jones recently returned from injury and has two touchdowns in three games. However, the big play has been missing, along with overall consistency.

Michigan is converting only 37% of third down chances. Penn State is 28th in total yards and averages 42 points per game, good for ninth in the NCAA. Michigan does have a stout defense, ranking 14th in yards allowed and 15th in points, but the the Lions’ run game could cause trouble.

Noah Cain leads the team with six rushing scores, but four different Penn State rushers have at least 200 yards. Six have at least two rushing scores. QB Sean Clifford is among those players, and he is completing 64% of his passes with 13 touchdowns on top of his work on the ground.

Trend Watch

Michigan is 2-8 against the spread (ATS) in 10 games. Michigan is 2-5 ATS in their last 7 conference games.

Michigan is 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games at Penn State.

The betting favorite is 5-0 ATS in the last 5 games of this series. The home team is 6-1 ATS in the last 7 games.

Matt’s Opinion

Penn State is allowing just 1.5 yards per rush, and the lack of run production is going to put way too much pressure on the shoulders of Shea Patterson. Penn State is tied for the NCAA-lead in sacks (27) and making the Wolverines one-dimensional with the pass is a huge advantage to the home team.

Michigan put up 14 points against Wisconsin and 10 points against Iowa. I doubt they will do much better this weekend. Even giving them 17 points puts Penn State on the hook for 27 points in order to get the cover. That is too much to ask for a balanced offense.

Michigan is routinely a public betting favorite, and they are getting about 54% of the action at +9. However, the bigger bets have come in on Penn State’s side. Stay with the sharps, and look for the Lions to get a 27-16 win.