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Penn State vs. Northwestern 2023 College Football Week 5 Odds, Preview & Pick

By Hank Blaine

6-ranked Penn State hopes to continue winning games and covering spreads when the Nittany Lions travel to Northwestern on Saturday to throw down against the Wildcats. Northwestern isn’t having a great season, but the Wildcats host Penn State a game after their best performance of the year. Will Northwestern keep any loss closer than the spread? Will the Nittany Lions cover? Keep reading for college football odds, analysis, and a free pick for Lions at Wildcats.

Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Northwestern Wildcats Game Information

  • When: Saturday, September 30, 2023, 12:00 PM ET
  • Where: Ryan Field, Evanston, IL
  • TV: BTN
  • Radio: ESPN 103.7 FM (Penn State) // WNUR Sports 89.3 FM (Northwestern)
  • Live Stream: WatchESPN
  • College Football Odds: Penn State (-27) // Northwestern (+27)

Why Bet on the Penn State Nittany Lions?

In their first real test of the season, a game versus then 24-ranked Iowa, Penn State’s defense rose to the occasion. The Nittany Lions held the Hawkeyes to 0 points.

Iowa rushed for 20 yards on 17 carries for a 1.7 per carry average. Iowa’s receivers caught 6 passes from former Michigan starting quarterback Cade McNamara for 56 yards.

Penn State plays team defense. The top tacklers, Curtis Jacobs and Abdul Carter, had 3 total tackles each versus Iowa. Penn State’s philosophy on defense means opponents can’t attack a specific player.

Sophomore quarterback Drew Allar has played lights out. Allar threw 4 touchdowns against Iowa’s excellent defense. Overall, Allar has 903 yards and 8 TDs with zero interceptions.

The Lions use three running backs: Kaytron Allen, Beau Pribula, and Nicholas Singleton. By rotating backs, Penn State keeps their rushers fresh.

Allar also likes to spread the ball around, throwing to KeAndre Lambert-Smith, Liam Clifford, Dante Cephas, and off the bench Theo Johnson, who had 6 catches against Iowa.

Why Bet on the Northwestern Wildcats?

In past seasons, Northwestern’s defense kept the team in games. Not so in 2023. The Wildcats’ D has not played great football.

Northwestern gave up 24 to Rutgers, 38 to Duke and 34 to Minnesota. But although the defense gave up those points, Northwestern beat Minnesota. Also, the D held UTEP to 7 points in a 38-7 Northwestern victory.

The Wildcats’ offense scored 38 against UTEP in a win, but the breakout game for the offense happened against stout Minnesota. The Golden Gophers’ defense is a solid unit.

So the fact quarterback Ben Bryant torched Minnesota’s secondary for 396 yards and 4 TDs is a sign the offense has turned the corner. Bryant completed 67% of his passes in the 37-34 overtime win.

Penn State vs. Northwestern Betting Trends

  • Penn State is 9-0 SU in the last 9 games.
  • Nittany Lions are 5-0 ATS in its last 5 games.
  • The total went over in 8 of Penn State’s last 12 games.
  • Northwestern is 2-13 SU in the last 15 games.
  • Wildcats are 3-8 ATS in its last 11 games played in September.
  • The total went over in 4 of Northwestern’s last 5 games.

Penn State vs. Northwestern Expert Betting Predictions

Northwestern isn’t on Penn State’s level, but the spread line makes the Nittany Lions unplayable. Penn State has played a single road game this season and it ended in a 30-13 Nittany Lions victory over Illinois.

The Wildcats should move the ball with more success than Iowa did. Northwestern unleashed Bryant in the win against Minnesota. So we should expect Bryant to play well.

Also, the stadium will be rocking. So although Drew Allar is a great quarterback, he’s just a sophomore. Allar may make some mistakes that keep Northwestern much closer in this than many believe.

At the end, Penn State wins. But the Nittany Lions beat the Wildcats by 20 to 24, at least 3 points off the spread line.

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