Skip to content
Betting Commercial Content. 21+. Provided by Action Network, official betting partner of The Inquirer.
Link copied to clipboard

Back Penn State to win big over West Virginia as Drew Allar era begins Saturday night

Our best bet and prediction for Penn State football's home opener against the West Virginia Mountaineers.

STATE COLLEGE, PA - SEPTEMBER 10: Drew Allar #15 of the Penn State Nittany Lions against the Penn State Nittany Lions against the Ohio Bobcats during the second half at Beaver Stadium on September 10, 2022 in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
STATE COLLEGE, PA - SEPTEMBER 10: Drew Allar #15 of the Penn State Nittany Lions against the Penn State Nittany Lions against the Ohio Bobcats during the second half at Beaver Stadium on September 10, 2022 in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)Read moreScott Taetsch / Getty Images

The Penn State Nittany Lions open up a potentially monster season with a home tilt against the West Virginia Mountaineers.

I’m extremely high on the Nittany Lions in 2023.

Meanwhile, I’m less excited about West Virginia.

As a gambling man, I do a lot of early-season betting on teams I’m excited about and against teams I’m not excited about.

We have the best of both worlds in this matchup.

Read on for my prediction, pick and best bet for West Virginia vs. Penn State.

  1. Read our expert rankings of the best sports betting sites

  2. Read our expert rankings of the best sports betting mobile apps

West Virginia vs. Penn State prediction: Analysis

Penn State is ready to elevate to the next level.

I’ve written at length about this team. Check out this article to read my in-depth Penn State betting thoughts.

For the sake of brevity here, I’ll only recap those thoughts.

Penn State is loaded on both sides of the football.

The Nittany Lions boasted a top-10 pass defense last season by Expected Points Added (EPA) per play and Success Rate allowed. They led the nation in forced incompletions.

While some secondary talent moves on, Kalen King and Johnny Dixon will be one of the league’s best cornerback duos.

Meanwhile, the front seven was tops in the Big Ten in sacks and tackles for loss last season, and they brought back almost every major contributor (aside from linebacker Jonathan Sunderland). They also added Maryland’s Chop Robinson, a Havoc-creating machine for the Terrapins’ defensive line.

Eight starters return on the defensive side of the football, including defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. Diaz excelled in his first year on the job, and the whole unit should improve with another year in the same system.

Meanwhile, eight starters return on the offensive side of the ball, including one of the nation’s top offensive lines (led by Olu Fashanu) and running back corps (led by Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen).

Mike Yurcich returns for his third year as offensive coordinator. He worked wonders for former quarterback Sean Clifford, and I expect him to work wonders for future quarterback Drew Allar.

» READ MORE: Penn State, Temple open season as favorites in home openers ahead of Week 1 college football slate

Allar is the top-rated quarterback recruit in program history. He was the top-rated quarterback recruit of the 2022 class.

He’s the prototypical NFL quarterback prospect, big-bodied with a monster arm and pinpoint accuracy. While he only has 60 FBS passing attempts, he has NFL first-round pick potential.

While he only has 60 FBS passes, Allar has the support staff to capitalize on his tremendous potential. If he hits, Penn State will be unstoppable.

I believe in head coach James Franklin, coordinators Yurcich and Diaz, Penn State’s roster construction, and Allar.

I believe the Nittany Lions are a National Title contender (I bet them to win the whole thing at 25-to-1).

Meanwhile, West Virginia head coach Neal Brown saved his job with upset wins over Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in the final weeks of last season. Last year’s squad was -91 net yards per game in Big 12 games.

The Mountaineers were picked to finish dead last in the Big 12 preseason media poll, and I can’t say I disagree.

The offensive line is strong, and the receiving corps got an offseason boost with the transfer portal acquisitions of Devin Carter (NC State) and Ja’Shaun Poke (Kent State).

» READ MORE: Making the case to bet on Penn State winning the National Championship

But the Mountaineers have a new offensive coordinator (Chad Scott) and a new-ish quarterback (Garrett Greene or Nicco Marchiol). Meanwhile, the defense is trying to replace nine of the 19 players who played 200 or more snaps last season, including three of six starting defensive linemen and four of eight starting defensive backs.

The Mountaineers are interesting. There’s a chance they pick up steam offensively by leaning into a more dual-threat rushing attack behind that strong offensive line. CJ Donaldson is a potential All-Conference back, while Greene and Scott are both mobile quarterbacks.

The key for them in Week 1 is shortening the game with their rushing attack. If the Mountaineers ground and pound while draining the clock, they’ll stay within the spread.

If West Virginia can’t get a push at the line or succeed in rushing the rock, the Mountaineers are done. They’ll give Penn State too many possessions in a hostile environment, and the new-look defense won’t hold up.

Penn State was seventh nationally in Standard Downs EPA per play allowed last season, and I project no dropoff for this top-five front seven. I don’t expect West Virginia to move the ball for 60 minutes successfully, and that’s a death sentence for them in Happy Valley.

I believe Penn State has the goods, and I expect the Nittany Lions to flex their muscles over a wildly inferior opponent. This should be the game where Penn State establishes itself as a legit National Title contender.

I smell a blowout, and I’m betting it’ll be all Nittany Lions on Saturday in Happy Valley.

For what it’s worth, James Franklin is 18-9-1 against the spread as a home favorite in non-conference play during his coaching career (12-7-1 with Penn State, 6-2 with Vanderbilt), producing a 32.4% ROI.

» READ MORE: Why Penn State’s Drew Allar is worth a flier in the Heisman Trophy odds market

West Virginia vs. Penn State pick

  1. Penn State -20.5 (-110) | Play to -21 (-110)

West Virginia vs. Penn State odds (via Caesars)

  1. Spread: West Virginia +20.5 (-110) vs. Penn State -20.5 (-110)

  2. Moneyline: West Virginia (+900) vs. Penn State (-1600)

  3. Total: Over 50 (-110) | Under 50 (-110)

The Inquirer is not an online gambling operator, or a gambling site. We provide this information about sports betting for entertainment purposes only.