September 17, 2010

LBU Staff Predictions: Kent State at Penn State

Penn State returns home after a rough trip to Tuscaloosa. This week is a bit different, as Kent State comes to town with one of the better defenses in the nation, but a much, much less potent offense than the Crimson Tide fielded last week. Here are our thoughts on the game, with a little score prediction action.

Nate Stupar [4]

Full Game Preview


Kent State is not a push-over and a lot of Penn State fans need to understand that. This isn’t going to be a walk in the park for the men in Blue & White. Penn State will have to play solid football to beat the Golden Flashes. I can guarantee you’ll see one thing this week: the running game. Joe Pa may have played off Evan Royster’s lack of production but it’s a big problem for Penn State right now. The running game was supposed to be PSU’s bread & butter but has yet to show up. Point the finger at who you must but it’s a problem that needs fixed NOW. I think you’ll see the coaches try a concerted effort to pound the ball which will probably mean a low(er) scoring game. I’ll say Penn State by two scores.

PSU 24 - Kent St 10


This is the week things have to start shaping up. Week one was a rocky start with a lot of unknowns. Week two wasn't exactly an opponent suited for working out kinks in your team's offense or defense. So this is the week. Kent State offers up an easy-enough opponent, but one that isn't completely pathetic. I'm not buying the whole "best rush defense in the nation," because the Flashes had minus-65 yards against FCS Murray State. Just because they're statistically the best right now, doesn't mean they're actually the best.

Two things this week I want to see happen. One, the linebackers must tackle more than the wind. Two, Evan Royster--or any PSU running back--has to surpass 100 yards. Or, if the 100-yard game doesn't happen for one back, Penn State must rush for at least 250 yards as a team. I'll take Royster with 80-90 yards, Stephfon Green with another 60-70, and Silas Redd with a cool 50. I can only hope, right?

Penn State won't KO the Flashes right out of the gate, but the Nittany Lions will win this one going away.

Penn State 38 - Kent State 23


While I would normally expect the lazy noon start before PSU put the game comfortably away by or soon after the half, I would bet the coaches spent the week making a few things very clear. With that in mind, PSU will have a fire lit under them coming out and Kent State may hang through the first quarter before falling back. I don't understand the freaking out from a lot of the fanbase after the Alabame game, but if the same problems continue through this game then it might be time to start worrying about what's coming down the road in conference play. Expect better performances and even Kevin Newsome handling more than a handful of snaps in the second half.

Penn State 41 - Kent State 10


Those who are looking for an improvement in the running game will likely be disappointed when PSU takes on the #1 ranked rushing defense in the country tomorrow...No, seriously, look it up. Yes, I know, the opponents were Murray State and a Boston College team that lacks offensive firepower, but unless Evan Royster finally gets his mojo back, the O-line finally learns how to run block, or Silas Redd gets more PT, I would expect another dismal performance from the running game. The aerial attack on the other hand, should go along rather smoothly as Kent St is ranked 83rd in pass defense. Look for the chemistry between Rob Bolden and his fellow receivers to continue to improve, especially since Bolden will jumping into the kiddie pool compared to the secondary they faced last week.

It's a good thing Kent State is missing their stud tailback Eugene Jarvis. Otherwise, their offense might pose enough of a run/pass balance to give our defense fits. Given that the Golden Flashes run a spread offense similar to Youngstown State's, they will end up moving the ball against the PSU secondary. With the safeties being such a major liability, I have a sinking feeling we'll see a TD or two through the air for Ken State which will keep things close for at least a half. I'm also still waiting on the D-line to live up to its billing, particularly Jack Crawford. Somebody should tell him that "cricket sucks" or make a "tea and crumpets" joke to get him all riled up and wanting to hit somebody. Perhaps the defense will finally get that elusive turnover they've been pining for, since Kent State has had issues hanging on to the football. That futility streak has to end sometime, right?

I don't see any reason why PSU doesn't win handily in the end despite Lou Holtzth's baffling remarks that Kent State will pull the upset (you know, because PSU will get caught looking ahead to that juggernaut program at Temple). I expect the typical slow Noon start and for the Flashes to hang around before PSU's talent and depth take over. I'm also boldly predicting the special teams to come up big again with a TD on a kick/punt return.

Penn State 31, Kent State 14


Stay tuned later tonight for our weekly 11th Hour Depth Charting.

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