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No. 4-Ranked Penn State Still -500 to Miss College Football Playoff; Should You Bet on Nittany Lions?

Brady Trettenero

by Brady Trettenero in College Football

Nov 6, 2019 · 2:57 PM PST

Penn State in the rain
No. 4 Penn State still has -500 odds to miss the College Football Playoff. Should you bet on the Nittany Lions? Photo by Ben Stanfield (Flickr).
  • No. 4 Penn State is still at -500 odds to miss the College Football Playoff
  • The Nittany Lions are 8-0, but still have to face Ohio State
  • Is there value in betting Penn State to make the CFP?

Unbeaten Penn State claimed the #4 spot in the first set of College Football Playoff rankings, ahead of defending National Champion Clemson. Yet they still have -500 odds to miss the College Football Playoff.

Why are the Nittany Lions such massive longshots in the four-team playoff odds? Is there value betting on Penn State to make the CFP?

Odds to Make 2020 College Football Playoff

Team Odds to Make Playoff Odds to Miss Playoff
Alabama -250 +210
Baylor +700 -1000
Clemson -450 +360
Georgia +265 -325
LSU -240 +200
Minnesota +1400 -2500
Ohio State -300 +250
Oregon +360 -450
Penn State +400 -500
Utah +700 -1000

Odds taken Nov. 6.

Penn State Undefeated

The Nittany Lions are having an incredible season and have beaten ranked Iowa and Michigan teams. They’ve been relying on their elite defense to limit opponents to just 9.6 points and 280 yards per game.

Sean Clifford has been great at QB, while KJ Hamler is proving to be one of the best wide receivers in the conference. Despite the 8-0 record, the Nittany Lions are still behind Big-10 rivals Ohio State in the rankings. 

Ohio State Also Unbeaten

The reason Penn State still has -500 odds to miss the CFP is due to the dominance of Ohio State this season. The Buckeyes have been crushing their opponents and are favored to win the Big 10 conference. Ohio State has outscored their opponents 386-63 and are yet to play a close game.

It’s very unlikely two teams from the Big 10 make the playoff. It hasn’t happened since the inception of the four-team CFP  and it’s unlikely to happen this year. Two teams from the SEC made the playoff in 2017, and one-loss Alabama, LSU or Georgia teams would likely get in over a one-loss Big-Ten team.

Oregon and Oklahoma are also both one-loss teams that have made the playoff before and would get in over a one-loss Penn State team.

Can Penn State Beat Ohio State?

You should bet on Penn State to make the CFP if you think they will beat Ohio State on Nov. 23. As long as Penn State takes care of business against an unbeaten Minnesota team in Week 11, their playoff hopes will come down to the clash with the Buckeyes.

I just don’t like Penn State’s chances against Ohio State. The Buckeyes have a Heisman contender at QB in Justin Fields and another Heisman hopeful on defense in Chase Young. This is an all-around powerhouse that ranks second in the nation in total defense and sixth in total offense.

The Buckeyes were recently able to gash Wisconsin’s top-ranked defense for 431 yards in a 38-7 victory. As good as Penn State’s defense has been, Ohio State has proven that they perform against elite defensive teams.

Clemson Left Out?

Penn State made the top four over Clemson in the CFP ranking released Tuesday, but you shouldn’t read too much into it. Over the last five seasons, only 60 percent of the teams that started in the top four made the playoff.

After surviving a scare against UNC in Week 5, Clemson has bounced back with four blowout victories. They have a very good chance of winning out, as their only game left against a ranked opponent is at home vs No. 22 Wake Forest.

Clemson has made the playoff in four straight years. The Tigers chances of finishing undefeated are much better than the Nittany Lions. A one-loss Penn State team won’t get in over an undefeated Clemson squad.

Verdict On Penn State’s Four-Team CFP Chances

Penn State is currently a top-four team based on what they’ve done so far this season. Unfortunately, their path to actually making the playoff is quite difficult.

Ohio State has been too good this season and will likely represent the Big 10 in the playoff. The chances of two Big 10 teams making it are very slim.

Penn State is likely to lose to Ohio State and miss the CFP in favor of the Buckeyes.

Pick: Penn State to miss the four-team playoff (-500)

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