Penn State vs Central Michigan preview: Will Nittany Lions cover as heavy double-digit favorite?
Penn State is coming off a dominant win over Auburn, but will they have a let down for bettors in week four when they play host to Central Michigan on Saturday?
When you win a tough road game against a formidable opponent, you deserve plenty of respect. However, when you dominate an SEC foe in their home stadium, like Penn State did to Auburn last Saturday, the national respect you receive is warranted.
The Nittany Lions, who had failed to cover the spread against SEC teams in three of their last four games against the conference, covered the three-point spread and more Saturday, led by a sensational performance defensively and from freshman running back Nick Singleton.
Before plunging full force into Big Ten play, Penn State has one last non-conference tilt against Central Michigan, which will be making its second ever trip to Beaver Stadium, the last meeting coming during the 2005 season.
As no surprise, Penn State opened as a large favorite, valued as high as 27.5, but the most favorable line is the 26.5-point spread listed at FanDuel Sportsbook. This is a Chippewas program that has covered three of their last four games when matched up against Power 5 opponents, which should make bettors uneasy when handicapping this game.
A perfect example of this was when Central Michigan played in Stillwater against Oklahoma State to open the season, entering the game as 20.5-point underdogs according to OddsShark. At one point, the Chipps trailed 51-15 early in the third quarter, but rallied late with three fourth-quarter touchdowns to lose by just 14, achieving the backdoor cover.
While the Nittany Lions have handled MAC opponents in their last five matchups vs. the conference, covering the spread in each game, the Chippewas could take advantage of Penn State coming off such an emotional and physical win over Auburn.
Take the 2021 season for example. After beating Auburn in Beaver Stadium, Penn State failed to cover the following week against Villanova, opening as 29.5-point favorites and winning by just 21.
The last time Central Michigan faced a Big Ten opponent, things didn’t go so well, losing to Wisconsin 61-0 in Madison. It was Jim McElwain’s first game as the Chippewas’ head coach, after spending three seasons as the Florida head coach and most recently the Michigan receivers coach in 2018.
McElwain has led the Chippewas to a 4-2-1 betting record as double-digit underdogs in his tenure, and they’re engineered by running back Lew Nichols III, a bell-cow who should receive some attention from NFL scouts. Central Michigan may have a 1-2 record, but this team could be in Detroit in December facing off for the MAC Championship.
Penn State should roll on Saturday, but expect the Chippewas to play through the final whistle. Those who plan on taking the 26.5-point line at FanDuel, the 27 point-line at Caesars, or even those bold enough to take the 27.5-point line at BetMGM, will be holding their breath until those clocks hit zero.
Central Michigan vs Penn State odds (via FanDuel)
Betting Line: PSU -26.5; O/U: 62.5 (-105/-115)
PSU: -4000 ML
*Penn State is 3-0 against the spread this season, while Central Michigan is 2-1 ATS.
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