Penn State +5.5
Hey all, it’s @sandmanpicks again. Well we could’ve started the season a little better, losing our first bet after it was looking great for the entire first half. But, we move on and hope to hit some other games. My second bet of the week is going to be Penn State +5.5 at Wisconsin. Here’s why-
Experience on Offense
Penn State brings back Sean Clifford for his third year under center. He did struggle mightily in 2020, especially at the beginning of the season but was good to great in 2019, and I expect to see that version of Clifford this year. Penn State also brings back veterans around Clifford like senior WR Jahan Dotson and junior RB Noah Cain, who was great his freshman year before suffering a season ending knee injury to open last year. Getting Cain back will be a huge boost. From the Wisconsin side they return Graham Mertz who was very inconsistent last year and will be playing his first game in front of fans. Outside of Mertz, there’s not a ton to love with his supporting cast. Jalen Berger and Clemson transfer Chez Mellusi form one of the weaker RB rooms in recent Badger history on paper. They do return two redshirt senior pass catchers in Jake Ferguson, Danny Davis and Kendrick Pryor, but neither of them have been close to as consistent as a guy like Dotson on the other side and wouldn’t scare me if I was Penn State. I think Penn State has the more battle tested and in my mind flat out more talented guys at the skill positions that will be ready to go and avenge last year’s nightmare.
Both these teams, as with most of the Big Ten, have strong defenses. Penn State did lose 3 studs on defense in the first 3 rounds of the draft last year, but they do return an experienced secondary. Tariq Castro-Fields and Joey Porter Jr headline what I expect to be one of the top units against the pass in the country this year. Combine this with the Badgers so-so receiving threats and question mark at QB, it should make for a long day for Graham Mertz. The Badgers will always get theirs on the ground, but having 2 stud corners who can cover 1 on 1 should allow them to stack the box on first and second downs. On the other side, I do expect the Badger defense to be solid too, however prone to the big play against more athletic teams. That’s been their big issue in the past and I expect to see it come into play at least once or twice tomorrow.
Penn State has dominated Wisconsin in recent memory, 6-1 in their last 7 both SU and ATS.
Neither team has had a challenge like this in week 1 under their current regimes, so it remains to be seen how they will handle it, but once again I like Penn State’s experience on offense a little bit more, especially under center. I think it’s a close game the whole way and Penn State keeps it within a score at the end.
The Pick – Penn State +5.5 1u
Record – 0-1(-1.5u)