The Nittany Lions opened as an 11.5-point favorite but have since been bought down to 10.5 and -599 on the moneyline, down to -411, while the Terrapins are +10.5 (-115) and +326 to win outright. The total is 50.5 flat.
Read on as we break down the Penn State vs Maryland lines in our college football game preview.
Location: SECU Stadium; College Park, Md.
Penn State vs Maryland Betting Trends
The Penn State Nittany Lions are 6-2 against the spread this season and 12-2-1 over their last 15 games. The total has gone Over in 11 of the Nittany Lions’ last 16 games. Notably, Penn State has also covered the spread in six of the previous seven games against Maryland. Conversely, the Maryland Terrapins are just 3-5 ATS. The total has gone Under in the last five games between these teams. That’s important to remember when assessing the Penn State vs Maryland lines.
Nittany Lions Still in Playoff Hunt
The Penn State Nittany Lions bounced back Saturday from their first loss of the season to defeat Indiana 33-24. A 31-point favorite, the Nittany Lions failed to cover the spread for the second straight week, but they did improve to 7-1 overall, including 4-1 in Big Ten play.
While the Nittany Lions are already bowl eligible, they’ll need to win out to have any shot at the College Football Playoff. Up one spot to No. 9, the Nittany Lions are one of three NCAAF teams ranked in the top 10 of the AP poll, following No. 2 Michigan and No. 3 Ohio State. Notably, oddsmakers are still skeptical about their long-term outlook, pricing them +8000 to win the national championship per NCAA football odds.
Penn State’s dominant has been stingy but is coming off its toughest performance of the season, albeit in a win. The 24 points allowed were a season-high, 12.5 above their season average. They were outgained 349-342 by the Hoosiers, needing a 57-yard touchdown grab by KeAndre Lambert-Smith to pull away with 1:46 remaining.
It was far from encouraging, but bettors shouldn’t be quick to dismiss the Nittany Lions. They’re still easily the third-best team in the Big Ten, capable of competing at the highest levels of the NCAA football standings. Quarterback Drew Allar (1,655 yards, 16 TDs, 1 INT) has played well and should be able to move the ball effortlessly against the Terrapins. His lone blip came Oct. 21 against Ohio State when he was held to 18 of 42 passing and was sacked four times in a 20-12 loss.
While the Nittany Lions rank just 66th in the country in total offense (392.8 yards per game), they’re averaging a healthy 38.9 points. That’s second in the Big Ten and tied for 10th most in FBS. Keep that in mind when analyzing the Penn State vs Maryland lines.
The Maryland Terrapins fell 33-27 to Northwestern Saturday, their third consecutive loss following a 5-0 start. The Terrapins, a 14.5-point favorite, had a 391-364 edge in yardage but committed two turnovers, including an interception in Northwestern territory to seal the game.
Now 5-3 (2-3 in Big Ten), Maryland is trying to salvage a once-promising season. The Terrapins need only one more victory to become bowl-eligible but will be sweating to match preseason expectations. Projected for 7.0 regular-season wins, the Terrapins will likely be forced to settle for a push at best unless they can upset either Penn State or Michigan at home. And even that might not be enough if they don’t take care of business against the rest of their schedule.
Taulia Tagovailoa — the brother of NFL quarterback Tua Tagovailoa — has played well for Maryland. One of the Big Ten’s most experienced quarterbacks, he’s completed 63.9% of his passes for 19 touchdowns and six interceptions. But that production’s gone to waste of late. The Terrapins have allowed 97 points over their last three games — losses to Ohio State and Northwestern — showing steep regression from earlier this season. Although they’re ranked 38th nationally in total defense (340.5 yards allowed per game), it’s becoming increasingly difficult to trust them.
The Terrapins are 37th in scoring offense (32.6 points per game), much of which is a credit to Tagovailoa. But he’s taken nine sacks over the past two weeks, including a season-high six against Northwestern. Clearly, the Terrapins need to protect him better.
Handicapping the Game
Maryland is reeling following three straight losses in conference play, the last two of which have come as double-digit favorites. Although the Terrapins have fared well at home with a record of 4-1, they’re against a different animal this week at Penn State.
The Nittany Lions are in must-win territory, needing to win out to keep their CFP hopes alive. They should do enough to improve to 8-1, though Maryland is due to play a more competitive game at home. Look for the Terrapins to keep this reasonably close while losing outright.