PENN STATE 25-PT. FAVE VS. MARYLAND: NITS JUST HOPE FOR 1ST WIN!

And Temple is a 17 1/2-point underdog at home vs. SMU.

By James Hammer in Vegas

There is a good reason the sharpies in Vegas have made Penn State a 25-point favorite tomorrow against Maryland at Beaver Stadium.

The Nits have won 40 of 43 games in the series and the last three by a combined score of 163-6.

This time, Penn State just wants to avoid an 0-3 start for the first time since 2001.

“The last thing you want to do is be predictable against a talented opponent,” Penn State coach James Franklin told the AP.

But that’s what he feels has happened over the first two games where Penn State has struggled to run the ball consistently and hasn’t contained a pair of shifty, playmaking quarterbacks.

Now the Nittany Lions will need to deal with Taulia Tagovailoa, who’s coming off one of the best performances by a Maryland quarterback.

Tagovailoa completed 74% of his passes for 394 yards with three touchdowns and an interception in Maryland’s win over Minnesota last week. The Terps still had to claw back from a 17-point deficit in the second half and force overtime.

Maryland coach Michael Locksley knows his squad will need more than momentum to hang with Penn State.

“I know they’ve had a couple of tough games the last couple of weeks, but I know that they’re a well-coached team and I expect that we’ll get their best, especially at home,” Locksley said.

So far, Penn State players don’t feel like they’ve performed up to their ability. The defense couldn’t get Ohio State’s Justin Fields out of rhythm a week ago and the front seven has been preparing all week to put pressure on Tagovailoa.

“They’re two great quarterbacks who can do it through the air and with their feet,” defensive tackle PJ Mustipher said. “We have to be able to stop them.”

Except for Jahan Dotson, whose eight catches for 144 yards and three touchdowns paced Penn State last week, the Nittany Lions haven’t given much help to quarterback Sean Clifford.

They’re getting healthier at receiver and expect to have Cam Sullivan-Brown and TJ Jones available for the first time this season.

Sullivan-Brown brings a veteran presence to the perimeter and the team believes Jones can be a deep threat. Meanwhile, freshmen Parker Washington and KeAndre Lambert-Smith have both earned starting spots on the depth chart this week.

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