Back in 2015, after the Nittany Lions beat Army by six points as 25.5-point favorites, Penn State coach James Franklin said, “I have no concern about point spreads.”
Franklin may not care, but with sports gambling now federally legal, quite a few Nittany Lion fans do.
Penn State is a 24-point favorite against Appalachian State on Saturday. The over/under is set at 54.
Since Franklin’s arrival, the Nittany Lions have covered seven times in 14 tries in non-conference play. Penn State is 3-2 against the spread when favored by more than 20 points in the non-conference. Two of those betting wins came last season, when the Nittany Lions thrashed Akron and Georgia State by 52 and 56 points, respectively.
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Of course, Appalachian State is known for its monumental upset of Michigan in 2007 — but the Mountaineers have given top teams trouble recently, too.
Appalachian State — the Sun Belt co-champions in 2017 — are 2-2 as underdogs against Power 5 squads the past two seasons. The Mountaineers lost by 21 to eventual SEC champions Georgia as 14.5-point underdogs in last season’s opener, beat Wake Forest a few weeks later and almost upset Tennessee in the 2016 opener as 20-point ‘dogs.
The Nittany Lions — who are 8-8-1 against the spread the last five years in September games, according to Odds Shark — will look to improve that mark and avoid being on the receiving end of another Appalachian State upset.
Penn State kicks off against the Mountaineers at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Beaver Stadium.