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Staff Predictions: Penn State vs. Virginia

Staff predictions return for Week 2 as various Onward State writers offer their thoughts on tomorrow’s Penn State game. Last week, everyone predicted a victory against the Ohio Bobcats, and everyone was wrong. This week, the picks aren’t quite as unanimous, as the Nittany Lions (0-1) hit the road to take on the Virginia Cavaliers (1-0). 

Drew Balis

Virginia 20 Penn State 17

I picked Penn State to lose this game when I did my season predictions, and after seeing  the product on the field last week, I will stick with that pick.Virginia was not really tested when they crushed Richmond last Saturday, but they did look pretty good doing it. Expect the Penn State defense to play better than it did against Ohio, but the offense remains a question mark. With Bill Belton not starting and potentially out of the game completely, establishing a consistent running game will be difficult. Jordan Hill, who vowed that the defensive line would not get pushed around again, will have a big day, and Sam Ficken will actually get to attempt– and convert– a field goal, but Virginia will make a few more plays in the end to come out on top.

Kyle Lucas

Penn State 24 Virginia 17

Penn State came out too emotionally charged last week. They played well on both sides of the ball in the first half but seem drained in the second. Don’t expect that this week. The Lions will come out focused and with emotions in check. Expect Virginia quarterback Mike Rocco to test the Penn State secondary early especially if Stephon Morris isn’t in the lineup. The Lions will need a good pass rush from its front seven to take some pressure off the secondary. Expect Bill O’Brien to try and establish the run game early. With Belton’s status for the game in doubt, look for Curtis Dukes to make an appearance in the backfield. Also watch out for tight ends Kyle Carter and Matt Lehman.

Ryan Beckler

Penn State 23 Virginia 20

The Nittany Lions come out and play fundamental football. Matt McGloin and company jump out to an early 10-0 lead, despite a stagnant running game. As the afternoon progresses, Mike Rocco eventually rallies his Cavaliers back to tie the game in the 4th. McGloin works the two-minute drill and finds Kyle Cater to set up a game-winning Sam Ficken field goal. If I’m wrong, panic amongst Nittany Nation ensues.

Kevin Horne

Virginia 24 Penn State 20

I think Penn State covers the spread here, but falls short in the end. Expect a better gameplan than last week from Bill O’Brien, and a solid performance again from Matt McGloin. Ultimately, though, Virginia QB Michael Rocco should be too much for our secondary to handle. Penn State’s defense will have to drastically improve from the performance last week if they wan’t a chance at pulling off the upset.

Greg Schlosser

Penn State 17 Virginia 14

Penn State heads on the road this week, and it certainly won’t be any easier. However, with officially one game under their belt, Bill O’Brien and company will be much more composed this week. Expect McGloin to play even better than last week, and the defense should perform better after getting destroyed by Ohio’s quick passes and pistol offense. Basically, it all comes down to whether the team can keep their emotions in check this week. If they can (and I expect they will), they should be able to pull this one out.

Matt Westlake 

Penn State 17 Virginia 10

Coming off a not-so-shocking but still upsetting loss, the Nittany Lions will bounce back and win in Charlottesville this upcoming weekend. As long as McGloin  can move around, noet give off his reads so easily, and be more accurate, the new passing game has a chance. I’m calling you out McGloin, prove me wrong.

Sam Cooper

Virginia 24 Penn State 20

It isn’t looking like running back Bill Belton will be suiting up, and the loss of Belton will hurt for the Lions as they’ll be forced to use a cast of inexperienced backs. The lost element of the offense will be tough to overcome, especially Belton’s ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. The defense will hang tough but will ultimately struggle against quick passes on third down.

Tyler Bank

Penn State 24 Virginia 17

I expect Penn State to rebound this week against a good Virginia team. The defense should be much stronger after last week’s wake-up call. Penn State’s front 7 will cause problems for Virginia and force a few turnovers. I also expect the offense to step up, with Matt McGloin hitting Allen Robinson early and often.

Eric Greene

Penn State 24 Virginia 17

Last week was way more emotionally charged than I could have imagined. Walking into Beaver Stadium and thinking about all the atrocities that led to this situation was absolutely miserable. The lessened tension coupled with the team not being in Happy Valley will lead to a more focused and less anxious unit this week.

Despite some mistakes and missed assignments, last week’s performance was not as terrible as it seemed. The offensive line was solid, allowing no sacks and giving McGloin the time he needs to throw. He isn’t the best at quick decisions and giving him time to hit Robinson and his other receivers is going to be the key to the passing game this season. Look for O’Brien to balance out the pass- run ratio this week to keep UVA guessing.

Greg Pickel

Virginia 24 Penn State 21

Expect to see Virginia use the short passing game that Ohio used to tire-out Penn State last week as the Nittany Lions look much improved on both sides of the ball. A turnover leads to red-zone field position for the Nittany Lion offense, but they ultimately fall short of gaining their first victory under Bill O’Brien in a game that will be considered close, but not close enough.

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