Penn State vs. Maryland Betting Odds
Another huge Big Ten matchup happens this Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET, as the 5-3 Nittany Lions travel to battle the 5-3 Terrapins.
After sneaking into the AP Top 5, Penn State has now lost three straight games. That includes a pathetic, 20-18 defeat to Illinois after nine overtimes.
Meanwhile, Maryland finally broke their three-game losing streak after pulling out a 38-35 victory over Indiana. The Terps were 5.5-point favorites in that game, however, so it wasn’t that impressive of a victory.
This game will come down to one matchup in particular: Taulia Tagovailoa against the stifling Nittany Lions pass defense.
So, which one comes out victorious?
Penn State Nittany Lions Odds
Penn State is mysterious. They lost in a disgusting effort to Illinois, then followed it up by giving an unbeatable Ohio State team a run for their money.
The defense continues to perform well against the pass, however. They rank eighth in PFF’s coverage grades and 19th in Defensive Pass Success Rate. While the line struggles to get to the quarterback sometimes, the Nittany Lions compensate by limiting big plays (ranking fifth in Big Plays allowed). So, even if Taulia has extra time in the pocket, he’ll struggle to pick up chunk plays.
The offense is very limited. The rushing game is very limited, so the Nittany Lions sling it. While Penn State ranks inside the top-50 in Pass Blocking and Passing Success Rate, the team also ranks outside the top-100 in Havoc allowed.
And the team must rely on Sean Clifford, who isn’t the most-reliable quarterback on the planet.
Maryland Terrapins Odds
For Maryland, everything centers around Tagovailoa.
The Terrapins rank 16th in Pass Success Rate, and Taulia grades out as PFF’s 16th best quarterback. He’s completing over 70% of his passes for 8.5 yards per attempt and a 17:7 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
However, he’s been well protected by a line that ranks 11th in Pass Blocking.
The Terps will attempt to toss the ball all over the field, as they pass at the 20th highest rate in the nation. But Tagovailoa hasn’t been the same quarterback in recent weeks, as he struggled mightily against Iowa and Minnesota.
The Maryland defense is below-average in almost every advanced statistic, and they rank outside the top-100 in PFF’s coverage grades. The Terps have allowed the 12th-most yards per game (402.5) and the most points per game (30.4) in the 14-team Big Ten.
Prediction and Pick
My pick: Maryland +10.5 (-110 at BetMGM)
Maryland is one-dimensional on offense and non-existent on defense. However, 10 points are far too many to give to a Big Ten home underdog.
This is why sharp money has been hitting the Terps all week, moving this line down from a +11.5 opening. The consensus line currently sits at +10, so it’s imperative to grab this stray +10.5 at BetMGM before it moves.
Moreover, I’ve seen projections that make Maryland closer to +7 or +7.5 underdogs, rather than double digits.
Penn State just doesn’t have the consistent offense to cover such a large number. Especially on the road against a quarterback like Tagovailoa, who will be well-protected against a weak Penn State pass rush.
This is also a terrible spot for the Nittany Lions, who have their second-straight road game and it was in Columbus last week. Last year, Penn State played Maryland after losing to Ohio State, and they trailed 35-7 late in the third quarter.
While nobody likes this Maryland team, this number has value. I’ll be backing the Terps on Saturday afternoon.