Coach James Franklin has Penn State back among the nation’s elite and this could be a team in 2017 that reaches the College Football Playoff. The No. 6 Nittany Lions open their season with what should be a cakewalk over MAC school Akron in College Football Week 1. Penn State are huge betting favorites over Akron this Saturday.
Akron at Penn State College Football Week 1 Odds, Preview & PickWhen: Saturday, Sept. 2, Noon ETWhere: Beaver Stadium, Penn StateTV: ABCStream: WatchESPNRadio: Akron-IMG Sports Network (Akron) / WPG 104.1 FM (Penn State)Opening College Football Week 1 Lines: Lions -30.5 (66)
- Overcast: 16°C/61°F
- Humidity: 73%
- Precipitation: 24%
- Wind: 6 mph SE
- Cloud Cover: 99%
- Type of Stadium: Open
Why Bet On Akron?The Zips finished last season 5-7, losing their final four games. This year’s team was tabbed to finish fourth in the MAC East Division. Defending East champion Ohio was selected first with 69 total points, followed by Miami with 61 points and Bowling Green. Akron, Buffalo, and Kent State rounded out the picks. Under the guidance of sixth-year head coach Terry Bowden, Akron returns 57 letterwinners, including 15 starters, to its spread offense and 4-3 defense.The Zips were ranked 73rd in the nation last year in offense with 27.4 points per game, but are returning senior quarterback Thomas Woodson. Last year, Woodson passed with a 152.1% efficiency rating, with18 touchdowns to just 6 interceptions, throwing for 2,079 yards, and going 146 of 242 before a late season shoulder injury. With Woodson, who endured nine months of rehab to return following surgery, back as the starter, the quarterback situation is as planned. The team currently lists redshirt freshman Kato Nelson as the backup.“The other guys have done a great job,” Bowden said. “He’s just got five years with our offense, coach [A.J.] Milwee, and he just knows what to do better than the other guys.”
How Well Has Woodson Done During Camps?A three-year starter, Woodson didn’t receive the lion’s share of work in team scrimmages on Saturdays during fall camp, but Bowden is pleased by what he’s seen. One of the most hyped Zips players is former Ohio State senior running back Warren Ball who returns after being injured much of 2016 and after being granted a sixth year of eligibility. Defensive Coordinator Chuck Amato has his work cut out for him after the 2016 Zips defense was ranked 98th in scoring defense by allowing 33.6 points per game.Bowden has coached just one previous game at Beaver Stadium [Sept. 6, 2014]. Additionally, the Zips’ mentor faced the Nittany Lions as the head coach at Auburn. Bowden and the Tigers faced Joe Paterno and the Nittany Lions in the Outback Bowl following the 1995 season. Penn State claimed a 43-14 bowl win.
Why Bet On Penn State?A total of 44 letterwinners and 18 starters are back from a team that won Penn State’s fourth Big Ten Championship and earned its fourth Rose Bowl appearance. Accordingly, Penn State’s No. 6 preseason ranking in both major polls is its highest since 1999.No big surprises on Penn State’s Week 1 depth chart. Stars like QB Trace McSorley, RB Saquon Barkley and TE Mike Gesicki are all with the first-team offense. Should anything happen to McSorley and Tommy Stevens, the quarterback job would fall to true freshman Sean Clifford.Barkley, the 2016 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, is the top returning rusher with 1,496 yards and 18 touchdowns on 272 carries. McSorley, the MVP of the 2016 Big Ten Championship game, went 224-of-387 for 3,614 yards and 29 touchdowns. Senior WR DaeShawn Hamilton is the top returning receiver with 506 yards and a touchdown on 34 receptions.3
How’s the Offensive Line This Season?Along the offensive line, Ryan Bates will stay at left tackle after moving from guard late in 2016 due to a rash of injuries. Brendan Mahon is back from injury, but will slide back in at right guard, where he played his first two years. Miles Sanders will once again be the primary option returning kickoffs, with DeAndre Thompkins taking over for the injured John Reid on punt returns.Multiple-year starters Jason Cabinda (LB), Grant Haley (CB) and Marcus Allen (S) set the foundation for the defense. Allen had 110 tackles, 6.0 TFL sacks, two fumble recoveries, and a blocked kick last year. Troy Apke won the starting job at strong safety alongside Allen, beating out Ayron Monroe and Nick Scott. Apke takes over for Malik Golden, who tallied 17 starts throughout his Penn State career.The 2017 season marks the 131st in Penn State history, with the Nittany Lions owning a record of 107- 21-2 in opening games.
Series HistoryIt’s the sixth meeting between Akron and Penn State in series history which began in 1999. The Nittany Lions hold a 5-0 record over the Zips. All five games were played at Beaver Stadium. In the teams' last meeting in 2014, the Akron defense forced three turnovers, but the Zips were only able to convert them into three points as UA dropped a 21-3 decision to the host Nittany Lions.
- Total Meetings: 5
- First Meeting: September 4th, 1999. State College, Pennsylvania
- Last Meeting: September 6th, 2014. State College, Pennsylvania
- All-Time Series: Penn State 5-0-0
- Largest Margin of Victory: Penn State 70-24 (1999)
- Longest Win Streak: Penn State 5 (1999-2014)
- Current Win Streak: Penn State 5 (1999-2014)
College Football Week 1 Betting Trends
- Zips are 3-9 ATS in their last 12 games in September.
- Nittany Lions are 5-0- 1 ATS in their last 6 home games.
- Nittany Lions are 9-1- 1 ATS in their last 11 games overall.