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Penn State Opens Double-Digit Favorite Over Pitt And Michigan

by on May 30, 2017 12:00 PM

The college football season is still more than three months away but that doesn't mean the prognosticating hasn't already begun, and in the case of Penn State, it's so far a positive outlook for the 2017 campaign.

In fact, according to South Point Sportsbook in Las Vegas, Penn State is a 19-point favorite over Pitt and a 14-point favorite over Michigan.

The spread is a fairly drastic change in fortunes from last season, especially considering that the Nittany Lions fell to both teams in 2016. The Panthers make their return trip to Beaver Stadium this fall in the second week of the season while Michigan heads to Happy Valley on Oct. 21 after a fairly thorough handling of Penn State in Ann Arbor last year. The Nittany Lions were underdogs heading into both of those matchups last year, +3.5 at Pitt and +16.5 at Michigan.

A closer inspection though and the lines aren't entirely unreasonable. Michigan and Pitt both lost major pieces of their rosters, filling those roles with unproven talent, all while Penn State returns nearly everyone from its Big Ten Title winning team in 2016. The spread will undoubtedly tighten in the case of Michigan, but it's a fair starting point at 14 points. 

For some historical context, Penn State has been a double digit favorite over Michigan just twice since 1995, once in 2008 and then again in 2017. Penn State won the 2008 meeting by a wide margin.

Also of note, Penn State opens a 8.5 underdog against Ohio State in Columbus this season. The Nittany Lions are 2-2 against Ohio State in Columbus when the spread closes at single digits. Penn State winning as the underdog in 2011 and as the favorite in 2008.

While nobody is suggesting that gambling is an advised use of your funds, an early look at some Vegas lines is a good measuring stick for how the outside world views Penn State's upcoming season, and early returns are full of optimism.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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