Penn State Football - Nittany Lions 2023 Season Preview, Win Total Predictions & Best Bets

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Caleb Wilfinger


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Deputy Editor for Pickswise with years of experience handicapping and giving out winning picks. Lover of all US sports and Southampton FC. For Caleb Wilfinger media enquiries, please email
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Penn State is a program that has a consistently high floor, particularly under James Franklin. However, despite the consistently good results, there’s something left to be desired with this program over the last 5 seasons. Take last season for example. The Nittany Lions finished with just 2 losses (to Michigan and Ohio State), and ran the table the rest of the way, including a Rose Bowl victory over Utah to cap off an 11-2 campaign. Yet, it felt like that season was a minor failure because of their inability to win against the two dominant programs in the Big Ten East. Will this season finally be the year that Penn State gets back to the Big Ten title game for the first time since 2016? Let’s get into my best bets. 

Penn State Nittany Lions 2023 College Football Season Odds

Odds courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook.

Penn State Nittany Lions National Championship Odds

The Nittany Lions are listed at +2500 to win the National Championship, putting them in a tie for 8th with Florida State and Texas.

Penn State Nittany Lions Big Ten Championship Odds

Penn State is listed at +550 to win the Big Ten, making them the 3rd favorite in the conference behind Ohio State and Michigan.

Penn State Nittany Lions Odds to Reach the College Football Playoff

Penn State is listed at +460 to make the College Football Playoff, which puts them at 10th in the odds in that market. 

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Penn State Nittany Lions 2022 Season Recap

As I mentioned previously, the 2022 season should have been seen as a rousing success for Penn State. The Nittany Lions finished with an 11-2 record, including impressive victories over every conference foe that they were favored against. The problems came against Ohio State and Michigan, which has been how its gone for the most part in the Franklin era. Michigan dominated in the trenches on the road while Ohio State used a terrific second half performance from CJ Stroud and got a couple of disastrous turnovers from Sean Clifford en route to a 44-31 victory. The Nittany Lions went on to win the Rose Bowl over Utah in a game that could foreshadow success to come this fall.

Penn State Nittany Lions 2023 College Football Season Outlook

I can understand if some fans are skeptical about Penn State heading into this season, especially with how the Nittany Lions have fared against Michigan and Ohio State over the last few seasons. However, it’s hard not to see that there are a myriad of reasons why this might be the best shot a Penn State team has of making the College Football Playoff since 2017. After another successful recruiting class and stint in the transfer portal, this might be the best overall roster Franklin has had at his disposal since that 2017 team, with most of the team’s production returning on both sides of the ball. The offense is the mystery in the passing game, with Drew Allar taking over the reigns at quarterback, but the Nittany Lions should have an excellent ground game once again. Expectations should be high in State College.

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Best Bet: Penn State Nittany Lions over 9.5 wins (-130)

Odds available at FanDuel Sportsbook at time of publishing.

At worst, we know that this Penn State team should have a very high floor. Even if a ton of things go wrong, the schedule and talent level on this team should be enough for them to still go 10-2, just like last season. That’s why one of my favorite bets of the college football season is on the Nittany Lions to go over their listed win total of 9.5, even with the juice on this number. The identity of this team should start with its outstanding defense. Penn State had one of the best units in the Power 5 a season ago and should only get better this season, particularly in the front seven. Don’t expect Manny Diaz’s unit to be tested by many quarterbacks until they travel to Columbus for a date with the Buckeyes.

The biggest question mark will be the performance of Drew Allar at quarterback, but the young phenom did get plenty of in-game experience a season ago, including some massive snaps on the road. On paper, Allar is certainly the most talented Penn State quarterback in years and while it remains to be seen if he can turn into a Trace McSorley-esque winner at the position, he should be in a great position to succeed. Fortunately for Allar and company, Penn State has just 1 difficult road game all season, a date at Ohio State in October. Outside of that, the only other difficult game comes against Michigan at Beaver Stadium, a place where the Nittany Lions are 6-2 over the last 8 meetings in the series. This team has a real shot at a National Title this season, so I’ll gladly play over 9.5 wins.

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