The memory should still be there.
For a time in the spring and early summer, there were no games. Nothing.
E-Sports became more interesting. We watched games of H-O-R-S-E because it was the closest thing we had to real athletic competition.
And now, as life and sport gets disrupted again across the country, we’re looking everywhere for sources of entertainment. Life jackets to cling to amidst an uncertain future.
And this time, there are games. Lots of them. And all sorts of betting lines too. So even as new obstacles stack up in front of us, there are numerous things to look forward to.
Steelers, Pitt, and Penn State fill weekend football slate
On Saturday, Pennsylvania’s two biggest college football teams – Pitt and Penn State – both kick off intriguing games in the middle of the afternoon. And on Sunday, the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers look to continue their perfect season.
Perhaps nothing seems ideal this weekend, but at least there are games.
In this week’s installment of Penn Sportsbooks’ Pick Play, we’ll cover a football weekend full of Nittany Lions, Panthers and Steelers, along with all the lines and wagers available at the best Pennsylvania sportsbooks.
Oddsmakers expect another Penn State loss
The Keystone State action starts Saturday at 3:30 p.m. when unexpectedly winless Penn State meets Iowa on the Big Ten Network.
At press time, Penn State, which has started 0-4 for the first time in nearly two decades, is a 2.5-point underdog at Iowa according to DraftKings Sportsbook. The Nittany Lions are +108 on the moneyline, while the Hawkeyes are -130. The game’s over/under is posted at 47.5.
Iowa is an unimpressive 2-2, but is coming off two big wins against Michigan State (49-7) and Minnesota (35-7).
Saturday’s game could very well be a pivotal point in deciding both teams’ seasons. Bettors can also find a wealth of other spreads, including individual team totals, alternate lines, and quarter/half odds as well.
Pitt is also installed as an underdog
Thirty minutes after the Penn State game begins, the Pitt Panthers, who have been stumbling through a disappointing season of their own, will face the Virginia Tech Hokies at 4 p.m. DraftKings Sportsbook has Pitt as a 3.5-point home underdog in the game at Heinz Field. The Panthers are +128 on the moneyline. The Hokies are -155 and the game’s total is listed at 54.5.
And much like the Penn State game before it, the contest between 4-4 Virginia Tech and 4-4 Pitt may very well chart the course for the rest of each team’s season.
Steelers have been a saving grace all season
One of the benefits of Pennsylvania citizenship is that most football fans have a rooting interest on Sunday no matter how Saturday’s college games end up. For people in Pittsburgh, football Sundays have been a welcome departure from the Saturday chaos of Pennsylvania’s college teams.
This week, the Steelers seem certain to play savior once again, with a road game in Jacksonville that they are favored to win by 10 points. The Jaguars seem content to keep losing in hopes of getting a top-flight quarterback in the next draft.
Jacksonville’s current quarterback, Gardner Minshew, has resumed throwing, but will miss Sunday’s game with the Steelers due to injury. Rookie quarterback Jake Luton, a 6th-round pick from Idaho, will start his third straight game in Minshew’s place. And that’s one of the reasons the spread is a little lopsided in the Steelers favor.
Pittsburgh is -500 on the moneyline and the Jaguars are +410. The game, which kicks off at 1 p.m., has an over/under set at 46.5.
FOX Bet has a full menu of custom wagers for the game and a number of boosted bets that offer enhanced returns. For example, you can earn five times your money (+400) if Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has a passer rating of 140 or higher. And another wager returns eight times your money (+700) if Chase Claypool scores a touchdown in the first quarter.
With a win Sunday, the Steelers’ dream season could reach 10-0, a record never previously achieved in franchise history.
Other sports will soon join the sports landscape
As the NFL season heads down the stretch, more hope lies ahead even though a lot of bad news is arriving outside of sports.
The college basketball season begins next week. And news that the NCAA tournament appears headed for an Indianapolis bubble will likely be enough to preserve the event no matter what happens with the country’s public health in March.
In addition, the NBA just held its annual draft Wednesday, with free agency set to begin at 6 p.m. Friday. And the regular season is only about a month away, with a full slate of games scheduled to tip off on December 22.
So there is a lot to look forward to, both this weekend and in the days ahead as well.
The memories of those barren spring weekends without sports can safely be forgotten.
We all have plenty of things to watch – and plenty of things to wager on too.
And that’s certainly something to be thankful for.
Lead image credit: AP Photo/Don Wright