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Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Maryland Terrapins Odds & Game Pick (2021)

by November 5, 2021
Sean Clifford

Both Penn St and Maryland can look at a definitive turning point in each of their seasons: Before Iowa and After Iowa.  Before Iowa, Maryland was sitting at 4-0 and knocking on the door of their first AP top 25 ranking since 2019.  After Iowa, the Terrapins dropped three straight games before finally winning last week against Indiana.  Meanwhile, Penn St.’s fall has been even steeper since peaking at #4 in the poll.  The Nittany Lions have lost three straight and find themselves unranked.  

Since Maryland joined the Big Ten, this game has sprung up as a de facto rivalry game, but where does the money lay?

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  • Opening Line: Penn St  -9.5, O/U 56.5
  • Current Line: Penn St  -9.5, O/U 56.5
  • Last meeting: November 7, 2020, Maryland 35, Penn St 19


Penn St has been a roller coaster offensively since Sean Clifford was injured in the Iowa loss, landing 78th nationally. Clifford was ineffective in a stunning loss to Illinois, and his diminished ability to scramble post-injury potentially affected the team’s ability to swing the upset against Ohio State.  The rushing attack has struggled mightily, ranking 114th, and neither RB Noah Cain nor RB Keyvone Lee has stepped forward to lead the way.  The passing game has been better, with a 36th ranked attack lead by dynamic WRs Jahan Dotson and Parker Washington.  

One can not say enough about Penn St’s defense that ranks 8th nationally in scoring and 3rd in red-zone defense.  The team has been “bend but don’t break” as the rush game has been average, ranking 66th, but the passing defense has shined with a 24th overall rank. The team could improve in pressuring the opposing QB, ranking 85th, though DE Arnold Ebiketie has been a star with 5.5 sacks.  

Similar to Penn St., Maryland opened the season on fire.  Taulia Tagovailoa averaged 335 yards through the first four games before falling off to 208 during the three-game losing streak.  The 15th ranked passing attack rebounded to 419 yards last week against Indiana.  The rush game has struggled; Tayon Fleet-Davis has led the way for the 103rd ranked unit.  Ultimately they have fallen in as an average team with the 65th ranked scoring offense, most notably struggling to hold onto the ball as Tagovailoa’s eight interceptions is a primary reason they have ranked 119 in turnover margin. 

On the defensive side, the team has struggled without any part of the game a strength.  The rushing defense ranks 79th, and the passing defense ranks 84th, so it is not a surprise the scoring defense ranks 95th. The team has done an excellent job rushing the QB, as they rank in the top 20 in sacks.

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  • In their last 12 games, Penn St is 9-3 ATS
  • Maryland is 1-5 ATS in their previous six.

Bottom Line 

The 16 point loss last year was one of Penn St’s lowest moments of a disappointing season.  The team is desperate to get back on the positive ledger.  Clifford should be able to keep the offense on the schedule against Maryland’s porous defense.  Look for Penn St’s defense to lead the way and the offense to score enough to cover the spread.

Pick: Penn St -9.5

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Jeff Bell is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Jeff, check out his archive and follow him @4WhomJBellTolls.

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