(6-2, 2-6 ATS)
Penn State Nittany Lions
(5-3, 3-5 ATS)
Neither the Northwestern Wildcats nor the Penn State Nittany Lions are challenging for a berth in the Rose Bowl this year, but these two should create an interesting NCAA football betting matchup on Saturday afternoon in Happy Valley.
The Wildcats are very quietly putting together another great season this year, and they are probably going to be rewarded with a trip to a similar bowl game to last year when they were in the Outback Bowl. QB Dan Persa isn’t quite putting up numbers now like he was at the outset of the season, but his body of work is still incredibly impressive. Just like his predecessor QB Mike Kafka, Persa isn’t afraid to handle the ball 50 times per game between passing and rushing. He has 2,062 yards and 12 scores against just three picks through the air and has 360 yards and six TDs to lead the way on the ground as well. Persa is averaging a whopping 44.4 plays per game between runs and passes. RB Mike Trumpy has sort of come out of nowhere, but the frosh is now the team’s leading running back after recording the first 100 yard rushing game for a Northwestern back in over two years last week in a 20-17 win against the Indiana Hoosiers. The Cats are reeling right now from an ATS standpoint, failing to beat the college football odds in five straight.
HC Joe Paterno knows that the win last week over the Michigan Wolverines was a huge one to keep his team on track for going to a bowl game. The Nittany Lions exploded for their best performance of the year against an FBS foe, dropping 41 on the Michigan Wolverines in a ten point victory. Now, though the schedule is very tough, just one more win will send Joe Pa and company bowling. QB Robert Bolden missed last week’s game against Big Blue, but he will be back in the fold looking for his first really solid game in quite some time. The frosh still has decent numbers for the year, having thrown for 1,307 yards and five scores this year. Penn State’s defense really hasn’t played that well in recent weeks, allowing its last four foes to score an average of 27.3 points per game, but we’re still talking about one of the more feared units in the Big Ten. Watch out for RB Evan Royster as well, as this is his second to last home game after an illustrious collegiate career. His senior season has been a bust though, as he only has 600 yards and four TDs on the year.
The home team might be 8-3 ATS in the L/11 in this series, but we tend to think that that is changing on Saturday. Northwestern has a knack of playing the Nittany Lions tough, and that might not be an exception this week. The Cats should be able to at least keep this one entertaining, as these are two fantastic Big Ten squads.
College Football Free Pick: Northwestern Wildcats +6