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Penn State’s Chances for the Playoffs, a Big Ten Title and more, according to the Oddsmakers

What does Vegas think of Penn State’s chances in 2020?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 28 Cotton Bowl Classic - Memphis v Penn State Photo by John Bunch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s getting deep into the offseason, meaning that ‘15-0 or GTFO’ is the expectation for the 2020 season. But what do the oddsmakers have to say about the Nittany Lions chances to reach the heights we are all dreaming of as we wait (and this year, HOPE) for the college football season to kick off this fall? The odds appearing below are courtesy of, who will be continually updating odds leading up to — and throughout— the college football season.

Odds for Penn State to make its first-ever College Football Playoffs: On average, Penn State is +600 to make the four-team College Football Playoff. While that’s only a 14.3% probability, it’s second-best in the Big Ten behind Ohio State (-150) and narrowly ahead of Michigan (+650).

Penn State will break through one of these years, right? There is reason for optimism heading into 2020, as the Nittany Lions are appearing in the top five in some way-too-early Top 25 polls. I have a feeling the relatively low probability has more to do with the Nittany Lions sharing a division with the Buckeyes. It’s a harsh truth when you consider their longstanding dominance of the Big Ten as well as the ridiculous hot streak Ryan Day has put together on the recruiting trail. The path to the playoffs will again run through Ohio State in 2020.

Odds for Penn State to win the Big Ten: ”While Penn State has the second-best CFP odds among the Big Ten, they actually trail both Ohio State (-125) and Wisconsin (+450) in the Big Ten title futures, sitting at +500. Obviously that’s due to the Badgers having an easier path to the title game in the West division. PSU is only +350 (22.2% chance) to win the East, while Wisconsin is the -175 favorite (63.6%) to win the West.

See above. Penn State and others will need to find a way to regularly topple the Buckeyes for this to change. Otherwise, the oddsmakers will have Ohio State as the likely favorite on an annual basis, regardless of their schedule or who they just lost to the NFL.

Penn State’s win total for 2020: Penn State opened with a win total of 9.5 with the over slightly favored at -120. The number hasn’t moved off 9.5, but the over is now heavily favored at -160, indicating sharp money is on double-digit wins for the Nittany Lions.

I really like the chances of Penn State to win at least 10 games for the fourth time in five years. There’s plenty of returning talent on both sides of the ball and the schedule sets up nicely outside of a brutal three-game stretch against Michigan, Iowa and Ohio State. However, they will have a week to rest up after the trip to Michigan, and they avoid two dangerous road contests as the Buckeyes and Hawkeyes both come to Happy Valley.

Odds for the Two Games You’ve Already Circled: The early lines for Penn State’s two biggest games of the year predict hyper-tight affairs, but the Nittany Lions are underdogs in both. They’re a 1.5-point road dog at Michigan in Week 5, while getting 3.5 at home against Ohio State in Week 8.

Yes, every game counts and the team has to take each opponent seriously. But I will venture that 99% of Penn State fans skim the schedule for Ohio State and Michigan each year.

There’s a strong chance Penn State will be undefeated heading into the Michigan game, especially if they can take care of business at Virginia Tech in week two. Michigan has a tougher path, kicking off the season with a trip to play Washington before welcoming Wisconsin in week four. The Buckeyes also will face a couple challenges before facing off with Penn State — most notably a week two clash at Oregon. They will also host Iowa in week six.