The Penn State Nittany Lions were not handed any favors by the Big Ten schedule makers.
James Franklin's team faces a tough trip to face the Indiana Hoosiers in its conference opener before hosting the Ohio State Buckeyes next Saturday.
Indiana did not beat a Top 25 team as part of its eight-win 2019, but it gave a tough challenge to Penn State.
Penn State could be susceptible to an upset or a sluggish start, particularly with running back Journey Brown not playing. The Nittany Lions already lost defensive end Micah Parsons, who opted out to focus on the NFL draft.
However, Penn State still has plenty of returning talent on its roster and may benefit from a few factors that helped it beat Indiana in 2019.
The same thought could apply to the Oklahoma State Cowboys, who will try to remain perfect against an Iowa State Cyclones team they beat by one score last season.
Week 7 Schedule and Odds
Friday, October 23
Illinois at No. 14 Wisconsin (-19.5) (8 p.m. ET, BTN)
Saturday, October 24
Syracuse at No. 1 Clemson (-46) (Noon ET, ACC Network)
Nebraska at No. 5 Ohio State (-26.5) (Noon ET, Fox)
No. 23 NC State at No. 14 North Carolina (-14.5) (Noon ET, ESPN)
Kansas at No. 20 Kansas State (-20.5) (Noon ET, FS1)
Georgia Southern at No. 25 Coastal Carolina (-6.5) (Noon ET, ESPNU)
Florida Atlantic at No. 22 Marshall (-16.5) (2:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Networks)
No. 2 Alabama (-21.5) at Tennessee (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)
No. 3 Notre Dame (-10.5) at Pittsburgh (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)
No. 17 Iowa State at No. 6 Oklahoma State (-3.5) (3:30 p.m. ET, Fox)
No. 8 Penn State (-6.5) at Indiana (3:30 p.m. ET, FS1)
No. 19 Virginia Tech (-9.5) at Wake Forest (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
No. 18 Michigan (-3.5) at No. 21 Minnesota (7:30 p.m. ET, ABC)
Virginia at No. 11 Miami (-12.5) (8 p.m. ET, ACC Network)
No. 9 Cincinnati at No. 16 SMU (-2.5) (9 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
Texas State at No. 12 BYU (-28.5) (10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook; Predictions against the spread in bold.
No. 8 Penn State (-6.5) at Indiana
Indiana handed Penn State a scare at Beaver Stadium in 2019, as it got within three points at the start of the fourth quarter.
The Hoosiers more than doubled the Nittany Lions' passing yard total and earned a pair of turnovers. Those numbers, plus the high amount of returning offensive contributors, make Indiana a dangerous team.
Tom Allen's side brings back its top rusher, Stevie Scott III, and its two top pass-catchers, Whop Philyor and Peyton Hendershot, along with quarterback Michael Penix Jr., who can be a threat in both aspects of the offense.
Indiana may stun Penn State with an early touchdown or two, but it might not be able to close out a victory, or a cover, because of its inability to stop the run.
A year ago, the Nittany Lions ran for 192 yards on 45 carries. Brown hit the century mark, while quarterback Sean Clifford produced 55 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
While Penn State will miss Brown's presence in the ground game, it is not depleted. Sophomores Noah Cain and Devyn Ford, who combined for 737 rushing yards last season, could fill the void and help Penn State push into the lead.
The Nittany Lions should be able to absorb the loss of Parsons as well since Shaka Toney and Jayson Oweh, who totaled 11 sacks in 2019, lead the pass rush.
If the Penn State defensive ends put pressure on Penix and contain his threat on the ground, the Nittany Lions could eventually take over and open up an advantage of seven points or more to cover.
No. 17 Iowa State at No. 6 Oklahoma State (-3.5)
Oklahoma State have moved up the Top 25 in the last few weeks thanks to avoiding an early upset in the Big 12 and the defeats of other high-ranked teams.
Saturday's home clash with Iowa State starts a brutal four-game stretch for the Cowboys that includes two Top 25 battles and matchups with Texas and Oklahoma.
But the Big 12 leader can't look past the Cyclones. It needed an interception return for a touchdown to win in Ames, Iowa, in 2019.
As it has been for the last two seasons, the key for Oklahoma State will be getting the best out of its offensive triumvirate of quarterback Spencer Sanders, running back Chuba Hubbard and wide receiver Tylan Wallace.
"We're alternating reps and we might play both, I'm not sure right now. We continue to get them quality work, and Spencer's healthy, obviously, Shane's played pretty good. I'm just glad to have a couple of guys that can play," Gundy said.
Hubbard and Wallace had over 100 yards in their respective stat categories in their last meeting with Iowa State, and the Oklahoma State defense picked off Brock Purdy on three occasions.
If Hubbard and Wallace run rampant through the Cyclones defense, they could create a large gap on the scoreboard.
Oklahoma State possesses the second-best FBS scoring defense, allowing just nine points per game. If it shows that tenacity after three weeks off and forces Purdy into more turnovers, it could cover the small spread with ease.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.
Statistics obtained from ESPN.com.
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