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Fiesta Bowl Odds and Ends: Predicting Penn State and Washington’s Paths to Victory

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Taking a close look at some of the more intriguing Fiesta Bowl odds.

Nebraska v Penn State Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

The Fiesta Bowl is almost here! Penn State and Washington are two incredibly even teams according to the stats, and both have a penchant to light up a scoreboard. We could be in store with an extremely exciting game to cap off the 2017 season. Let’s take a look at some of the more interesting odds according to MyTopSportsbooks as we approach kickoff.

Over/under on total points score since it seems likely to be a high-scoring game
The current O/U is 55, and probably should be higher. While Washington has one of the nation’s best defenses, Penn State has proven it can light up the scoreboard, even when the team has difficulties unleashing Barkley. FWIW, I predicted a total of 72 points, with Penn State coming out on top in a thrilling shootout.

Will Saquon Barkley break 100 yards rushing?
In a stat not many would have believed in August, Barkley has only broken 100 yards rushing four times in 2017 (against Akron, Iowa, Michigan and Nebraska). He’s added plenty through the air (Barkley was the only player in the nation with 1,000 yards rushing and 500 receiving), draws a lot of eyes on play-action passes and is the Big Ten’s best return man, so his rushing stats don’t accurately reflect his value.

Odds Barkley rushes for more than 100 yards: 3/2

Will Trace McSorley throw for more than 300 yards?
He’s done it four times this season, but Georgia State and Indiana aren’t exactly the elite competition that they’ll face against Washington. However, if the Huskies sell out to slow Barkley, McSorley should be in for a very big day with his arms and legs.

Odds McSorley passes for more than 300 yards: 4/1

Who will have more rushing yards- Saquon Barkley of Penn State or Myles Gaskins of Washington?
The Fiesta Bowl will feature the best match-up of running backs. Both have been incredibly productive during the past three seasons, and have the ability to take over a game in the blink of an eye. Statistically speaking, Myles Gaskin is the more consistent running back, with more yards per play (6.2 vs 5.7) and more total rushing yards, 1,282 vs 1,134. Note that this is just rushing, Barkley has added a lot of yards receiving (594 vs Gaskin’s 228) this year.

Myles Gaskin: 2/3
Saquon Barkley: 3/2

First scoring play: -
Penn State TD: 8/5
Washington TD: 39/20
Penn State FG: 33/10
Washington FG: 33/10
Penn State other: 55/1
Washington other: 55/1

It may make sense to take a Washington touchdown here. Both teams have issues in the kicking game and the Penn State defense struggles somewhat in the red zone, giving up 16 touchdowns in 30 trips. Penn State is slightly more likely to get the first score, but it's not as big a difference as the odds would suggest, especially considering that which team gets the ball first is a literal coin-flip. Based on history of both teams, don’t be surprised if whoever receives the opening kickoff ends up with points on the board.

Will there be a defensive TD?
No: -175
Yes: +125

This overestimates the likelihood of a return touchdown (either punting/kicking, interception, or fumble). While Washington had four punt return TDs this year and took two interceptions to the house, the Nittany Lions only had three total and didn't surrender any. Both teams take care of the ball pretty well and were top-10 in giveaways per game. Roll with ‘no’ at -175.

Will the game go to overtime?
Yes: +650
No: -1400

It's not a big payout, but take the ‘no’ side again here. This game is not very likely going to overtime, according to recent history. The Huskies have only gone to overtime once since 2012 (last year at Arizona), and Penn State has gone to OT just once in the last three years (a thrilling home victory against Minnesota that helped launch a 2016 Big Ten Championship). The more points that are scored in a game, the less likely that game will go to an extra period. Penn State's explosiveness on offense and vulnerability against a quarterback of Jake Browning’s ability should translate to a high-scoring game that gets decided in 60 minutes.