By Peter Gleason
Penn State’s Week 1 79-7 slaughter of Idaho showed that the Nits are is capable of a premier bowl appearance.
And tonight should see a much stiffer test as Penn State hosts a Buffalo Bulls team coming off a season-opening rout of Robert Morris.
Buffalo Bulls vs Penn State Nittany Lions
Date/Time: September 7, 7:30 p.m. ET
TV Coverage: FOX
Opening Odds: Penn State -27 | O/U 55.5
The line for this one opened as low as Penn State -23.5 (most places had -24), but quickly shot up to -27 and could climb higher before kickoff. The total opened at 55.5 before jumping a point and a half to 57.
If the Bulls have any chance of pulling off a monumental upset at Beaver Stadium, it’ll be through a stout ground game. Buffalo finished inside the top 50 in rushing yards per game last year while placing just outside the top 10 in rushing scores with 36; it racked up 285 rushing yards and four TDs last week vs Robert Morris. Penn State’s defense makes its bones from rushing the passer, having led the FBS in sacks per game (3.6), but it also held teams to just 4.00 YPC in 2018.
The passing game is far less robust, especially after the Bulls lost quarterback Tyree Jackson and its top five receiving threats from last season’s incredible 10-4 performance. Buffalo looked a little like Navy or Air Force in its season opener, with QB Matt Myers throwing just 10 passes compared to 47 team rush attempts. And with the Nittany Lions’ pass rush still among the best in the nation, look for a similar ratio in Week 2 – for better or worse.
No Trace McSorley. No Miles Sanders. But in Week 1, it was no problem for the Nittany Lions, who battered the Vandals to the tune of 673 total yards in a 79-7 victory. It was a no-doubt confidence booster for a Penn State team that has replaced its top two offensive options with players who have little collegiate experience; quarterback Sean Clifford threw for 280 yards and a pair of TDs while Devyn Ford ran for 107 yards and a score on just six carries.
Some big spreads scare bettors off – and Penn State giving four touchdowns against a team (albeit from the MAC) that won 10 games last year might seem ambitious. But the Nittany Lions have been good value in these situations, having gone 8-4 ATS in their last 12 games as favorites of 25-plus points. That said, while Buffalo is just 1-7 SU in eight road games all-time vs the Big Ten, it has gone a red-hot 7-1 ATS in those contests.
Buffalo looks very much like a one-trick pony – and with Penn State enjoying home-field advantage and boasting a sensational defense, it’s hard to see the Bulls doing much damage on offense. Take the home team ATS.