College Football Week 3: Penn State at Auburn Odds

Written By Brett Gibbons on September 16, 2022
Penn State at Auburn odds

Run it back! A terrific matchup last year in Happy Valley moves to Auburn for the second game of a home-and-home series between Penn State (2-0) and Auburn (2-0). The Nittany Lions took care of business at home last year and are favored on Saturday. Below, we’ll look at Penn State at Auburn odds and preview the game.

Stay tuned with us all year long for college football odds and game analysis.

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Penn State at Auburn Odds

College Football Week 3 odds for every game

Penn State at Auburn Odds Movement

Since this line teeters on a key figure in football betting– three points has a 17% push rate in college– any half-point movement is significant. Early in the week, FanDuel Sportsbook offered Penn State -3.5 (+100) while other books priced PSU -3. That indicates a slight market lean to Penn State. It’s unlikely early in the week that we’ll see a shift to 2.5 points.

For bettors of either side: timing is everything. Penn State backers will want to scoop up a -3 (or hold their breaths for -2.5, but good luck). Auburn backers want that -3.5, but avoid paying too much juice if possible; FanDuel’s 3.5-point line comes with a steep -122 price tag.

Breaking Onto The Scene

While Penn State as a whole picked up 7.5 yards per play in a comfortable win over Ohio, freshman back Nicholas Singleton accounted for 14.9 yards per touch. We won’t draw sweeping conclusions from this game alone, but it appears Singleton is Penn State’s best offensive weapon. The game plan so far for him is clear: 10 carries and limited targets. Will that continue this game? Who’s to say.

Penn State was beyond inept on the ground last season, so Singleton provides a breath of fresh air not taken since Saquon Barkley was in town. This week, he faces one of the nation’s top run defenses in Auburn. The Tigers played two overmatched opponents, but they have a top-20 mark in rushing EPA advantage on defense (-0.244).

We’ve also seen glimpses of freshman Drew Allar. He’s a fluid passer and it’s clear he’s only not on the field because of Sean Clifford’s experience and leadership. Sending him into battle on the road against Auburn is likely a bad idea, but Penn State has a strong safety net should Clifford go down (or struggle– both of which we’ve seen).

Despite playing the likes of Mercer and San Jose State, Auburn’s passing defense hasn’t been shutdown. They’ll be tested against the likes of Mitchell Tinsley (10-111-2) and Parker Washington (6-90-0).

Strength Vs. Strength

Auburn’s defense grabs headlines, but Penn State has been equally good so far. They’ve been excellent preventing explosive plays (6.1% explosive play rate allowed vs. Purdue, 0.0% vs. Ohio). The trick’s been a talented secondary that’s been playing out of their minds; players like Joey Porter Jr. allow the Nittany Lions to run man defense heavily and effectively. Aidan O’Connell and Purdue posted just a 33.3% success rate vs. Penn State’s man defense in Week 1.

Auburn might also have a QB issue. On the released Week 3 depth chart, TJ Finley and Robby Ashford were listed with an OR at the QB1 position. Finley’s struggled so far this season, dragging the Tigers’ team offensive EPA to 55th in the nation despite the 124th strength of schedule, per FPI.

However, the QB mess is crutched by a strong defense that’s 32nd in yards per play allowed (4.6). As is typical with Auburn teams, their front seven is strong and highlighted by a good defensive line.

Thanks to both teams’ strengths being their defenses, the over/under for this game is more reminiscent of an NFL contest at points.

Penn State at Auburn Forecast

Penn State’s success in man coverage should be a very concerning matchup problem for Auburn fans. I don’t trust Finley an ounce and against a secondary that’s completely fine being left on islands is a recipe for an offensive logjam. If a defense can dedicate three or four defensive backs to man defense, it allows them to add more bodies to the box and take away Auburn’s primary guy, running back Tank Bigsby.

We saw it in the Purdue game, where receivers just couldn’t get open. The result? O’Connell threw 58 passes for one touchdown.

On the flip side, there’s no reason to trust Clifford not to turn the ball over. In crunch time against Purdue, he threw an egregious interception and was only bailed out by his own defense securing a go-ahead pick-six. The sooner Penn State turns to Allar, likely the better. If Singleton is bottled up by Auburn’s run defense, this game could be a defensive war.

The only number I’m looking at in this game is the point total. If I’m betting anything, it’s under points. However, I’m likely hands-off this game because it’s one of the most high-profile on the week and these lines are likely hammered into place.

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Brett Gibbons

Brett is an avid sports traveler and former Division-I football recruiter for Bowling Green and Texas State. He’s a graduate of BGSU and works as an auditor for Google content curation products. He’s also contributed to Sports Illustrated and Fansided during his young writing career.

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