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Washington Huskies vs. Penn State Nittany Lions Point Spread - Pick

Washington Huskies (10-2 SU, 7-5 ATS) vs. Penn State Nittany Lions (10-2 SU, 7-4-1 ATS)
Fiesta Bowl
Date/Time: Saturday, December 30, 2017 at 4PM EST
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper,

Point Spread: WAS +2/PSU -2
Over/Under Total: 55

The Washington Huskies take on the Penn State Nittany Lions in the Fiesta Bowl on December 30 in Glendale. Both teams finished the season 10-2, with Washington ranked 11th and Penn State ranked 9th. In a fickle season, there isn't much to separate those in the CFP from the rest of the pack and these two teams are capable of beating anyone on the right day. The Huskies last played on November 25 in a rousing 42-17 win over Washington State. Penn State also last played on the 25th, meaning both teams will have been off for over a month before hitting the field for this game. In their last one, Penn St. demolished Maryland, 66-3.

Penn State isn't separated by much from an undefeated season. After stating 7-0, they lost by one to Ohio State, 39-38. The following week, they lost to Michigan State, 27-24. Those were their only setbacks of the season and they've won three straight entering this game. They did some nice things this season, including a 29-point win over Michigan. They were solid against the spread and even though those two conference losses kept them from doing some big things this season, it was a good year and would be made even better with a win over a Washington team that looks really dangerous heading into this spot. They have some of the top players in the country on this team, average almost 42 points a game, and give up just 15.5 points a game. They are a handful.

Penn State has some firepower on offense. At QB is experienced and gutty Trace McSorley. He has completed over 65% of his throws, while throwing for 3228 yards, along with 26 touchdowns. He is no wilting lily in the run-game, having put it in the end zone 11 times. Their big horse on the ground is Saquon Barkley, a back who has shown he can thrive in big games. On the season, Barkley ran for 1134 yards and 16 touchdowns, adding nearly 600 yards receiving. With the likes of ball-catchers DaeSean Hamilton, Juwan Johnson, Mike Gesicki, DeAndre Thompkins, and Saeed Blacknall, McSorley has a lot of different weapons at his disposal.


We'll see how Penn State does defensively against a dangerous Washington offense, but they were pretty good this season overall. They were terrific in some games, while not so great in others. If Nebraska can put up 44 against them, Washington can do a lot better. Ohio State put up 39 points against them, while Michigan State scored 27. Other than that, however, they were pretty solid, not yielding more than 19 in any other game. They were really solid against the run this season. They have active linebacker play with Jason Cabinda and Brandon Smith and good safety play from Troy Apke and Marcus Allen. Corners Grant Haley, Christian Campbell, and Amani Oruwariye have made big plays all season. There are a lot of role-players on a defense that flexes a lot of talent. Mostly stout, there were enough slipups to give Washington an "in."

The Huskies had a similar season to that of Penn State, a fast start and a couple losses thrown in the mix, but a solid season overall. A 6-0 start hit its first roadblock in unexpected fashion in a 13-7 loss to Arizona State at the very stadium this game is at. A November loss to Stanford was their other setback, as two one-score losses spoiled their chance to really do some big things this season after making the CFP last year. Their offense may not have been quite as explosive last season, but their defense picked up the slack, giving up a paltry average of just 14.5 points a game.

The Washington offense is again led by QB Jake Browning, a capable and experienced field general for the Huskies. He completed nearly 69% of his passes, though his numbers were down considerably from last season. Myles Gaskin was a major playmaker, with 1282 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns on the season. Lavon Coleman and Salvon Ahmed added some depth in the ground game. Receiver Dante Pettis is a major contributor, both aerially and on punt returns, where he has scored four touchdowns this season. Despite a dip across most categories, they are still good for an average of 37 points a game and that's not bad, especially with the "D" they can flex.

The Washington defense has been pretty solid for the most part. Eight times this season, they have allowed 16 or less points in a game. And allowing just 14 in their last game to a Washington State team trying to win its way into the Pac-12 championship shows they are in good form to end the season. Only one team in the nation allowed less rushing yardage than the Huskies this season. And while they may not have had the playmaking secondary of last season, with several guys going to the NFL, but it was a stout passing-defense nonetheless, led by Tyler Rapp, Myles Bryant, Ezekiel Turner, and a lot of others. It's a part of the "D" that has a lot of depth. Linebackers Ven Burr-Kirven, Keishawn Bierria, Ryan Bowman, and Tevis Bartlett make a big difference. And for beef up-front, they have Vita Vea, Greg Gaines, and Benning Potoa'e.

This Fiesta Bowl prediction is not an easy one. Washington can perhaps hit higher notes. There have been times this season, including their last game, where their combination of offensive power and a stifling "D" just had teams gasping for breath. But they're going to have to be at their best in this game. Any other version of the Huskies is mincemeat for a strong Penn State team that was really a twist here and there away from a really huge season. While Washington could benefit from knowing this field, it's not like they played that great in Glendale this season, losing to Arizona State. It's a lot cooler now, and I just see Washington matching up well in this spot. I'm taking the Huskies and the points.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Washington Huskies plus 2 points. Bet the Huskies vs. Nittany Lions game for FREE by taking advantage of a massive 100% sign-up bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $500 at GTBets!

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