Category: College Football

2022 Penn State Nittany Lions Football Preview

Ahead of the Penn State Blue-White Scrimmage, Tagline Sports takes a look at where the Penn State Nittany Lions football program is going in 2022 and previews the upcoming season.


The Penn State Nittany Lions have not had the greatest of seasons these last two years, with a five-game losing streak to start the COVID shortened 2020 season and then a collapse from 4th in the nation to unranked a season ago. James Franklin’s squad had all the possibilities of a dream season with wins at No. 12 Wisconsin, versus No. 22 Auburn, against reigning MAC Champion Ball State, and 2020 Big Ten darling Indiana, but from there it was all downhill, with a tough to watch loss at Iowa in a match-up of 3 versus 4, a 9 OT dredging defeat at the hands of Illinois, and then an Ohio State loss that always felt like one play away from victory. Poor play plagued the Nittany Lions with losses against Michigan, Michigan State, and Arkansas, which made the highs of the season seem so distant. But so, they return, with new hopes under nine-year coach James Franklin, who just inked a new ten-deal to outlast both the outgoing President and the outgoing Athletic Director that brought him in from Vanderbilt, and long-time quarterback Sean Clifford, who hopes his fourth year at the helm will be his best. The first true dark offseason for Franklin in his tenue did lead to a few key transfers, with likely offensive line starter Des Holmes heading to Arizona State and potential defensive line start Joseph Appiah Darkwa on his way to Temple… though perhaps the biggest loss was in running back Noah Cain, who took his talents to LSU in hopes that his injury and running woes will be left behind in Happy Valley. Meanwhile, fan hopes were high with a tremendous recruiting class, 6th in the nation and 2nd in the Big Ten, with potential future start due Drew Allar and Nick Singleton leading the pack. While most of these recruits will take time to get into the system, many hope that the answers to the big National Championship question will be among them. Maybe the best welcome addition will be on the sidelines, as former Miami Head Coach Manny Diaz takes up the defense, with star players in Joey Porter Jr, Kalen King, Ji’Ayir Brown, Nick Tarburton, and PJ Mustipher ready to lead. Still, the Nittany Lions hopes may rest on the shoulders of the offensive line, which has been the bane of the Nittany Lions’ existence the last forever years. With constant liability Rasheed Walker gone, younger guys like Olu Fashanu and Landon Tengwall will look to strengthen the line alongside veterans Juice Scruggs and Caedan Wallace. In a Big Ten that keeps getting bigger, stronger, and faster, will Penn State’s highest players be enough to take James Franklin to the promise land? Or will it be more of the same – close but no cigar – for the Central PA faithful.

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College Football – Week Seven Top Bets

Alabama. Georgia. 2 v 3. A rivalry renewed. A trip to Tuscaloosa for the first time since 2007. A possible changing of the tides in the SEC. What will be the outcome of the season’s first huge game? This battle of goliaths will go far in deciding who will go into the playoffs, or at the very least who will make it to the SEC Championship Game. Other than this monster matchup, there will be plenty to watch this weekend, including games involving all 15 ACC teams. Meanwhile, the defenseless Big 12 will only get one game – West Virginia v Kansas. What will happen in this last game before the Big Ten takes the field? We shall find out.

Season Stats: 11-14 (6 Outright)

Auburn at South Carolina (+3.0)
This hasn’t been the greatest year for the Will Muschamp led Gamecocks, but they get a rattled and shaky Auburn team at home to begin their fourth game. Auburn, after a first game win over Kentucky, got exposed against Georgia, and then “won” in a game that Arkansas got cheated by the refs to conclude. Their offensive line has been exposed badly throughout this season and Bo Nix has not developed since last year. Meanwhile, South Carolina played toe-to-toe with Tennessee and Florida before coming on top in dominating fashion over Vanderbilt. I look for Muschamp to right the ship and put South Carolina in a good spot on Saturday.

Kansas at West Virginia (-21.5)
It is time to ride or die with betting against Kansas. They have been awful this season (and really the past decade). Without Les Miles making the trip, this looks even worse for the Jayhawks. All West Virginia.

Louisville (+16.5) at Notre Dame
We opened the season last year with this matchup (in which Ian Book hit a cheerleader with a football), which was Scott Satterfield’s first time at the helm of the Cardinals. While it is unlikely that Louisville wins this, this line seems pretty big, especially after Notre Dame let Florida State score up plenty a week ago. Louisville needs to show more on defense to keep this close, but they have an offense that should push them within 16.

Georgia (+5.0) at Alabama
First… I’m picking Alabama to win outright here. As good as Georgia has been, they’ve been beating up on very weak offensive lines. Now they get one of the strongest teams upfront and a QB in Mac Jones that will be very difficult to stop. But, history is on Georgia’s side; per ESPN’s Chris Fallica, “Under Nick Saban, Alabama has been less than a seven-point favorite at home five times. The Tide have lost four of the games outright (’19 LSU, ’11 LSU, ’10 AUB, ’07 UGA) and pushed the other (’08 ARK)”. Give me those five points.

Boston College (+13.0) at Virginia Tech
Perhaps one of the most underrated squads in the FBS this season, Boston College nearly got UNC, had it not been for a botched 2-pt conversion which would’ve tied the game at the end. They then took down what was a strong Pittsburgh team. Now they take on Virginia Tech one week removed from their loss against North Carolina. Boston College has shown a lot of strengths on defense this season – I look for them to win.

College Football – Week Six Top Bets

Week Six may be one of the most exciting weeks on the season, with tough matchups such as Florida @ Texas A&M, Virginia Tech @ North Carolina, Oklahoma-Texas, Tennessee @ Georgia, and Miami @ Clemson, among many other quality games. Lots of teams will have their season decided on Saturday – and many will have their fate sealed with a loss. Let’s see what bets to make this week.

Season Stats: 10-10 (6 Outright)

Virginia Tech (+3) at North Carolina
The Tar Heels may be one of the favorites to upset Clemson in the ACC, but getting past the Hokies is their first test. This matchup the last two years has been decided by a total of 5 points, with Virginia Tech currently on a four game win streak. From how these schools have played, UNC looks very overrated for their quality of play while VT is still improving and looks to be near the top of the ACC. These squads should have a very tight content throughout.

NC State @ Virginia (-7)
The Wolfpack shocked many in a close victory over the previously undefeated Pittsburgh Panthers. But now they need to finish up this road trip against UVA – a squad playing angry after their trouncing last week by Clemson. Virginia is one of the best schools in the ACC and can really cause some chaos for other schools. This is a revenge game for last week’s embarrassment – Virginia up big.

UTSA (+34.5) at BYU
The BYU Cougars currently sit atop the standings of both total offense and total defense, but they now get a very tough UTSA squad that has been improving. Sure last game was a loss against UAB, but outside of what was a defensive matchup, they’ve been putting up the points. While I still believe BYU is the victor, I wouldn’t be surprised if this stays close.

Texas Tech (+11.5) at Iowa State
This Big 12 matchup has been a relatively close scoring series of late, even with Iowa State winning the last four. Texas Tech has been playing well since their scare against Houston Baptist while Iowa State is currently sitting on a high. But how will Iowa State backup their play after an upset victory against OU last week, and with Oklahoma State on the horizon? 11.5 points just seems like too much to pass up.

Mississippi State (+3) at Kentucky
Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense was sputtered last weekend, but a trip to Kentucky may be just what they need. The Wildcats don’t have the best defense against the pass and their offense has only been subpar. Even though we have no idea which Bulldogs team will show up, if they can move the ball through the air, this should be an easy game.

Odds provided by Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill.

College Football – Week Five Top Bets

As the leaves change colors and the temperatures drop, it is finally feeling like College Football season. After last week’s debut for the SEC and two huge Top 25 upsets, the season is starting to be in full swing. Sadly, last week was a brutal beating in the bets, but looking for Week Five to turn that around.

Season Stats: 6-9 (2 Outright)

Baylor at West Virginia (+2)
Morgantown has not been kind to Baylor – having lost to the Mountaineers all four trips to Milan Puskar Stadium. Baylor beat up on a very weak Kansas squad last week while West Virginia contended with one of the top Big 12 teams in Oklahoma State. Now heading back home, the Mountaineers have a lot on their side in this one.

Memphis at SMU (+1)
One of the top games last year was this matchup, when Memphis and SMU fought at the Liberty Bowl in front of College Gameday. That 54-48 game went the way of the Tigers. But now the series switches to Dallas as the Mustangs look to dethrone the Tigers. Memphis is coming off a long month of rest since their opening week win over Arkansas State while SMU has been rolling to three straight, albeit against much weaker. The Pony Express looks to be back and will be a threat in the American this year.

Central Arkansas at North Dakota State (-24.5)
The defending FCS champions continue their domination in their one Fall football game against Central Arkansas. They CRUSHED opponents last year, with an average margin of victory in the regular season of nearly 28 points. Trey Lance has just one opportunity this fall to make an impression on NFL Scouts – this should be the Trey Show and we are ready. The Bison win big!

Ole Miss (+6) at Kentucky
Alright… maybe this is a mistake… but the Lane Kiffin’s of Mississippi looked good last week in defeat. Their defense was stout during the first half (until the doors busted open) and their offense was finding its rhythm. But that was their first game together. Now they get a Kentucky team that just didn’t look right last week. I expect a close one.

Navy at Air Force (+7)
The Air Force Falcons make their first appearance of the season in a battle for the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy against the Midshipman. Navy was thoroughly rocked in its first game against BYU but rebounded to a nice come from behind victory against an average Tulane team. But a trip out west isn’t easy for Navy; they haven’t won at Falcon Stadium since their OT win in 2012 (and before that have to go back to 2008 for a regulation time win. This is a tough challenge for Navy to come away with a win.

Odds provided by Draftkings Sportsbook.

College Football – Week Four Top Bets

This past week has definitely been one of the best in college football history – with the Pac-12, Mountain West, and MAC all announcing their return to play, we have college football from every conference once again! Now, as we approach the end of September, the SEC joins the mix to make our Saturdays even better, and to give us more games to bet on. So let’s see what we will be betting Week Four.

Season Stats: 5-4 (1 Outright)

Kentucky (+6.5) at Auburn
SEC Football is Back! Kicking off at noon is a thrilling showdown between the Wildcats and the Tigers at Jordan Hare. The Kentucky defense has been one of the most ferocious in the SEC as of late and that won’t be any different this year. It won’t be easy to score against Kentucky, especially for an Auburn offense that can stutter at times. Lots of cobwebs to worry about here. Going to be a close one and possibly an upset.

Louisville (+2) at Pittsburgh
Last week the Cardinals got exposed against a very good Miami team, but the second half showed their spark. Scott Satterfield will have his boys all revved up for this game against the Panthers, who didn’t look too great in victory over Syracuse.

Florida International at Liberty (-8)
FIU makes their seasonal debut against a very tough Liberty squad. This is one of the hidden mismatches of the weekend – Liberty should roll in this one.

Army (+12.5) at Cincinnati
In two games, Army has impressed – blanking Middle Tennessee and coasting by Louisiana-Monroe. But both games have been against doormats of their conference. Now they take on American hopeful Cincinnati. Cincinnati has the offense to score when given the chance, but they were not great given their chance early against a weak Austin Peay. Army is my favorite to win here and shouldn’t need to many of the 12.5 points (if any) to win this bet.

Florida State at Miami (-12)
Sorry Seminoles fans, this will be another crazy week. The Hurricanes have looked fantastic these last few games – its been impressive to see how much they have grown under Manny Diaz in year two. Meanwhile Florida State is a complete mess and I don’t see that changing this week. Miami rolls in the rivalry.

NC State (+6.5) at Virginia Tech
Dave Doeren won’t have the easiest time against Virginia Tech, but they are tackling a team light on conditioning. After a close rivalry win over Wake Forest, they now get a challenge at Lane Stadium against Virginia Tech. The Wolfpack have a lot of weapons and can score in bunches – should be a shootout in Blacksburg.

Odds provided by Draftkings Sportsbook.

College Football – Week Three Top Bets

What a week it has been! Now that college football is in full swing, the Big Ten is joining back into the race for the playoffs (with the Pac-12 possibly closely behind). Going to be fantastic to see these conferences return at the end of October. But for now, we focus on week three, where we have a ton more games to look at and try to find some solid bets.

Season Stats: 2-3

Syracuse (+21.5) at Pittsburgh
A good old fashioned rivalry in the ACC pits the Orange and the Panthers together. Syracuse kept it close in the first half last week against a much better North Carolina, before the Tar Heels pulled away. Pittsburgh has a tough offense to deal with, but it is still no where close to what UNC has. Syracuse probably won’t win, but will keep this rivalry game close.

Louisiana (-15) at Georgia State
What a mismatch here. Coming off their upset victory (and shorthanded victory) over Iowa State, the Ragin’ Cajuns head to Atlanta to take on the Georgia State Panthers. Now retooled and nearly at full strength, this should be a Louisiana route. They’ve romped in the previous matchups of these two teams and I could see this being a three score game.

Liberty (+14) at Western Kentucky
We last saw the Hilltoppers playing Louisville tough for parts of last week’s game. Now they take on the Liberty Flames, a squad that won a bowl game last year and put up some good numbers against the bottom feeders of the FBS. But in year two of Hugh Freeze, they should improve and could be one of the surprise stories of the year. Don’t sleep on this offense and squad – they will do damage against a very week Western Kentucky defense.

FAU (+2.5) at Georgia Southern
It isn’t easy facing the option threat of Georgia Southern, but FAU has all the talent to do so. One of the top Group of Five schools last year, the Owls, with new head coach Willie Taggart, will look to continue that against a Georgia Southern team that looked mediocre against Campbell last week.

Louisiana Tech (+5) at Southern Miss
After the loss to South Alabama Week One, Southern Miss fired their coach to move in a new direction. Not sure how that will work going forward and will now get a tough Bulldogs team in their first game under the new regime. Going to be a close one.

All lines compliments of DraftKings Sportsbook.

College Football – Week Two Top Bets

We had a nice slate of games last week to tease us for the true start to the college football season! The ACC and Big 12 kick off this weekend, including six of our ranked schools going at it, headlined by two in-conference games: Syracuse at North Carolina and Duke at Notre Dame. Of course, the start of the college football season brings some of the best betting action of the year, and we’ve been waiting a long time for it, so let’s go with my five top bets of the Week Two action in College Football.

Syracuse (+23) at North Carolina
The Tar Heels and Mack Brown start their season with a lot of hope at an ACC Title, but they will need to brush off the rust against a decent Syracuse squad. While UNC should win this game, having to win by more than three touchdowns is a huge ask.

Duke (+21.5) at Notre Dame
Another game with a lot on the line is this opening in the ACC for the Irish. If they want any chance at going against Clemson for the crown, they will need to start with a win over the Blue Devils. Again, three touchdowns is a lofty ask, especially considering the last time Duke traveled to South Bend, they came away with the upset. The Blue Devils should be improved over last year’s team, with former Clemson backup Chase Brice leading the offense.

South Alabama (+10) v Tulane
The Jaguars just got their first road win since 2017 and now have their inaugural game at Hancock Whitney Stadium. Going against this Tulane team won’t be an easy ask, but South Alabama has a lot of talent at receiver and a game under their belt. Should be a close one!

Western Kentucky at Louisville (Over 57.0)
In Year Two of Scott Satterfield at Louisville, the Cardinals should be all gears ready for a great ACC campaign. But first they face in-state foe Western Kentucky, who they beat 38-21 last year at Nissan Stadium in Nashville. They were rolling much of the year and should be all cylinders go here. But they won’t get an easy game, with a touch Hilltoppers squad looking to score some points here too – should be a shootout!

Kansas (-6.5) v Coastal Carolina
The Jayhawks have revenge on their mind when the Chanticleers come to town. Just last year, Lawrence, Kansas saw the Jayhawks stunned by Coastal Carolina 12-7. Now it is Round Two and I know these Kansas players don’t want to go down again like that. Year Two under Les Miles should see this team be very improved and coast with a win by at least a touchdown, if not more.

All lines compliments of DraftKings Sportsbook.

College Football 2019 – Week 2 Underdog Picks

Record On the Season: 2-3 (1 Outright Win)

Last week was not the most excellent start to the year, but Week One is never easy for the underdogs.  For those that picked Georgia State against Tennessee, I applaud you – I was not one of them.  Nonetheless, onward to Week Two, headlined by two huge out of conference matchups: Texas A&M at Clemson and LSU at Texas.  I will be taking the Tigers in both games; while the Aggies look improved, going into Death Valley is a challenge this group has yet to face and Trevor Lawrence looks on a new level for 2019, and LSU was ferocious last weekend – Texas won’t have the players to stop the purple and gold.

As for my Week Two underdog plays:

  • Ohio (+4.0) at Pittsburgh
    • The Panthers did not look good in their opener against Virginia. They couldn’t move the ball and looked stunted at every drive.  Meanwhile the Bobcats offense under Nathan Rouke put away Rhode Island in the first half, accounting for three TDs.
  • Texas A&M (+16.5) at Clemson
    • The Tigers should win pretty handily against the Aggies, but a line this large is too tempting to pass up. Last year’s matchup was a close one in the fourth and I do expect much the same.  Cannot fathom Clemson winning by more than two touchdowns, and even that is high.
  • Colorado (+4.0) v Nebraska
    • The Buffaloes stunned the Huskers last year in Lincoln. Now with the rivalry renewed, and Nebraska coming into town, Colorado will look to get back to back wins over hated competition to start the Mel Tucker era.  They looked great against Colorado State in Denver last weekend while Nebraska created a lot more questions than they answered.  Steven Montez shined last weekend and could be a Pac-12 star in the making.
  • Nevada (+24.5) at Oregon
    • The Zoo will be rocking Saturday when the Wolfpack come to town. After a heartbreaking loss to Auburn, the Quack Attack will want to show they are still on top of the west.  But a 24.5 point margin is tough to overcome against a Nevada team that is always a scoring threat.  And to put that 24.5 point margin, Oregon has just 1 win in their last 12 games in which they covered that many points, while Nevada has stayed within the 24.5 point margin in all but 1 of their last 14 games.
  • Arkansas (+4.0) at Ole Miss
    • A matchup of SEC bottom feeders is where we will finish this week out. Ole Miss could not move the ball last week in Memphis, accounting for only 173 yards of offense in the loss.  Meanwhile, Arkansas had the offense moving against FCS Portland State, but failed to capitalize.  Still, they should have no problem dealing with the Rebels, who haven’t won since they went into Little Rock last year and beat the Razorbacks.

Tagline Sports FBS Top 25 2019 Week 1

With Week One in the Books, Here is the Updated Tagline Top 25.

Note, the first few weeks will see teams fluctuate heavily – by Week 5, the algorithm part of this is balanced out.

Rank Team Record Points Prev. Rank
1 Alabama 1-0 1930 2
2 Clemson 1-0 1897 1
3 Georgia 1-0 1793 3
4 LSU 1-0 1728 7
5 Wisconsin 1-0 1675 19
6 Ohio State 1-0 1648 5
7 Penn State 1-0 1646 13
8 Auburn 1-0 1633 9
9 Florida 1-0 1625 8
10 Oklahoma 1-0 1619 10
11 Notre Dame 1-0 1606 6
12 Michigan 1-0 1605 4
13 Utah 1-0 1571 18
14 Oregon 0-1 1537 17
15 Miami (FL) 0-1 1534 24
16 Texas A&M 1-0 1502 11
17 UCF 1-0 1499 23
18 Washington State 1-0 1494 22
19 Texas 1-0 1479 20
20 Michigan State 1-0 1478 15
21 Boise State 1-0 1472 31
22 Stanford 1-0 1462 25
23 Mississippi State 1-0 1460 14
24 Virginia 1-0 1454 37
25 Iowa 1-0 1453 16

 

College Football 2019 – Week 1 Underdog Picks

A new college football season is among us! After a teaser Saturday last weekend with the Battle of the Sunshine State between Florida and Miami, we have a full slate of games to enjoy this weekend.  While I’ll be trekking back to Happy Valley to watch Penn State take on the Idaho Vandals, so many other college football fans will be cheering on their squad for the first time since 2018.  With the start of another season, it is time for my underdog selections:

  • Boise State (+6.5) at Florida State
    • Originally slated to be in Jacksonville, this game has been moved to Doak Campbell Stadium due to Hurricane Dorian.  That does give Florida State an edge, but by how much.  Boise State has a good bit of talent to replace, especially on the offensive side, but they return a solid slate on defense that was already ferocious last year.  Meanwhile Florida State is still figuring out the keys to winning – lots of problems plagued their team last year and it didn’t seem like there were big moves made to improve such.  Boise State fights tough and while they may not have the size to contend, they have the talent and should put up a fight against a Seminoles team that needs help.
  • James Madison (+6.0) at West Virginia
    • This is as much of a rebuilding year as ever for West Virginia, as they lose almost all the keys to last year, including their head coach.  Neal Brown helped to rebuild Troy, but it still took him a year to get there; meanwhile one of the top schools in the FCS is coming in riding high and ready to pounce – this is a tough out for the Mountaineers and they have a huge chance of falling to the Dukes at home.
  • Holy Cross (+21.5) at Navy
    • One of the hottest teams to end the FCS season last year in the Crusaders comes into this battle with the Midshipman with a lot of talent remaining.  They are a high scoring team that loves to play on the road and will spell a challenge for a Navy team that is in rebuild mode.
  • Oregon (+3.5) v Auburn
    • Honestly, I’m surprised that Oregon is the underdog here – they are a pre-season favorite to win the Pac-12 and make it to the College Football Playoff, have perhaps the No. 1 Overall Pick at QB, and return a ton of talent.  Meanwhile, Auburn needs to find their identity after an up & down year in 2018 – starting freshman Bo Nix as their QB into what will be a tough environment at Jerry’s World.  In this rematch of the 2011 National Championship, I’ll be going with the Ducks to pull off the upset.
  • Fresno State (+13.5) at USC
    • Much like Florida State, USC is coming in off a year where they couldn’t put anything together.  Now they start the year with a tough Fresno State team that will test USC up and down the field.  This will be a low-scoring affair, especially with the Bulldogs defense, giving them the edge in the spread and possibly and edge to pull off the outright upset.