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Maryland vs. Penn State odds, pick, prediction: Bet on Nittany Lions to cover again

Penn State’s edge on defense will likely be the difference in Happy Valley on Saturday

Penn State defensive end Dani Dennis-Sutton (center) celebrates with teammates after his interception in last week's game at Indiana. The Nittany Lions defense has held six of nine opponents to 17 points or less. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
Penn State defensive end Dani Dennis-Sutton (center) celebrates with teammates after his interception in last week's game at Indiana. The Nittany Lions defense has held six of nine opponents to 17 points or less. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)Read moreJustin Casterline / Getty Images

If you believe in the power of patterns, making a Maryland vs. Penn State prediction this week is a bit tricky.

On the one hand, the 14th-ranked Nittany Lions have taken care of business on the scoreboard every time they’ve hit the field as a favorite, going 7-0 straight-up (including six consecutive double-digit victories).

Penn State’s two losses? Both were as an underdog against Big Ten rivals that are No. 2 (Ohio State) and No. 3 (Michigan) in this week’s College Football Playoff rankings. So a comfortable victory at home Saturday over Maryland — something oddsmakers are forecasting — appears likely.

On the other hand, maybe not, because the Nittany Lions have been riding a point-spread roller coaster this season: started 3-0 ATS, then went 0-3 ATS, now on another 3-0 ATS roll.

The last time James Franklin’s team cashed in four straight contests? The final four games of the truncated 2020 season — the only time it’s happened since September 2018. So which trend should you back Saturday at Beaver Stadium?

Note: Odds updated as of 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 10.

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Maryland vs. Penn State Prediction

  1. Penn State -10 (at Caesars Sportsbook)

Maryland vs. Penn State Prediction: Analysis

Since a season-opening 35-31 victory at Purdue, Penn State has been involved in eight double-digit blowouts in a row. That includes five games decided by 24 points or more, the most recent being last Saturday’s 45-14 road thrashing of Indiana.

Conversely, five of Maryland’s last seven games were decided by a touchdown or fewer. That includes a competitive 34-27 loss at Michigan as a 17-point underdog.

So laying this kind of number with the Nittany Lions isn’t easy. Yet we’re doing it for a similar reason we backed Penn State as a two-touchdown favorite at Indiana: personnel discrepancy, particularly on defense.

Statistically, the Nittany Lions and Terrapins (6-3 SU, 4-5 ATS) are nearly identical on offense. The teams average almost the same points (Penn State 34.4; Maryland 31.4), passing yards (Penn State 266; Maryland 261) and rushing yards per game (Penn State 171; Maryland 165).

Defensively, though, the Nittany Lions have been much stronger. Only three teams— Purdue (31), Michigan (41) and Ohio State (44) — have scored more than 17 points against Penn State. And the Buckeyes only had 16 points through three-plus quarters before taking advantage of two game-changing, fourth-quarter turnovers.

Maryland, meanwhile, has yielded at least 23 points in six of its last seven (the exception being a 27-13 home win over Michigan State). And in three Big Ten road games, the Terps are yielding 30 points per contest.

Maryland also is coming off its worst performance of the season. The Terps fell 23-10 at middling Wisconsin after a week off. Talented senior quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa — brother of Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa — went just 10-for-13 for 77 yards against the Badgers, with one touchdown offset by an interception.

Penn State will be the fourth Top 50 defense Tagovailoa has faced this season, the others being Michigan (2nd), Wisconsin (23rd) and Purdue (tied for 38th). He shined against Purdue (25-for-39, 315 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT); was below-average against Michigan (20-for-30, 207 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT); and stunk it up at Wisconsin last week.

Not-so-coincidentally, Tagovailoa faced Purdue at home. Michigan and Wisconsin? On the road.

» READ MORE: Penn State vs. Maryland betting history, trends: Expect Nittany Lions to win big

Back to Penn State’s offense. The Nittany Lions have tallied at least 31 points in every game but Michigan and Northwestern (17 in each). That includes two 45-point efforts in their last two wins.

If Penn State — which played both senior quarterback Sean Clifford and highly touted freshman Drew Allar last week at Indiana — can produce at least 35 points Saturday, the Terps would need to get to 26 to cover the spread. We don’t think that’s likely.

Lay the points with the home favorite at Caesars Sportsbook, and look for another double-digit Penn State victory.

Maryland vs. Penn State Odds (via Caesars Sportsbook):

  1. Point spread: Maryland (+10) @ Penn State (-10)

  2. Moneyline: Maryland (+300) @ Penn State (-385)

  3. Total: 57 points

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