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Staff Predictions: Penn State vs. Eastern Michigan

We’re just one day away from the home opener at Beaver Stadium. The Penn State football team won its first game against Syracuse last weekend and is looking to stay undefeated tomorrow against the Eastern Michigan Eagles. Kickoff is at 12:00 p.m. Let’s take a look at what our writers think about the home opener:

Zach Berger:

Penn State 41, Eastern Michigan 10

This is the easiest opponent that Penn State will face all season. Bill O’Brien said in his weekly press conference that the greatest improvement a college football team typically sees is from the first game to the second. Considering that Penn State looked pretty good against a respectable opponent in the opener, expect a blowout tomorrow against Eastern Michigan.

Their best player is Bronson Hill, a running back, but I wouldn’t anticipate him doing any significant damage against DaQuan Jones and the Nittany Lions defensive line. The already stagnant Eagles pass offense will look even worse against Adrian Amos & Co., a strong secondary that will look to bounce back after some poor mistakes last weekend.

On the other side of the ball, the Penn State offense should be absolutely dominant against a below-average Eastern Michigan defense. Christian Hackenberg will be let loose. Zach Zwinak, Bill Belton, and the offensive line will improve immensely after a poor performance against Syracuse. Hackenberg could have four touchdowns. Zwinak and Belton could have four touchdowns. All I know is that the offense is going to score a lot of points and somebody has to score them.

Bill DiFilippo:

Penn State 49, Eastern Michigan 10

Remember last year when Penn State played Navy, and the Nittany Lions jumped all over the Midshipmen en route to 34 straight points and a 34-7 win? I expect something similar to happen here, with Penn State jumping out to an early lead behind a running game with something to prove after a poor showing against Syracuse (especially Zach Zwinak) and a full game of Allen Robinson.

I think Eastern Michigan gets a few points just because they have an experienced QB/RB duo in Tyler Benz and Bronson Hill. But really, other than that, I expect this to be a bloodbath. I fully expect Penn State’s backups to get in with five minutes left in the fourth quarter, just because the game is that far out of reach.

I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Zwinak or Bill Belton ran for 150 yards and 3 TD’s, just like I wouldn’t be surprised if Christian Hackenberg threw for 400 yards and 5 TD’s. Really, the only thing that wouldn’t surprise me? A close game.

Kevin Horne:

Penn State 42, Eastern Michigan 14

The line gives Eastern Michigan a whopping 24.5 points, but when a blowout like that is anticipated, the score could really end up being anything. “A lot to a little” is probably the safest score prediction to make. I’m most interested to see how Christian Hackenberg plays against a swiss cheese defense. This is a great chance for Penn State to get some live reps in and get some guys in the action that normally wouldn’t see the field. Hopefully Penn State can go up big early so O’Brien can explore some different offenses and treat it like a scrimmage.

Drew Balis:

Penn State 44, Eastern Michigan 9

This might be the worst opponent Penn State has faced since the last time Eastern Michigan came to Happy Valley in 2011. Even with that stagnant offense featuring Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin rotating in at quarterback, the Nittany Lions were able to put up 34 points and should easily be able to match that total Saturday in Christian Hackenberg’s first start at Beaver Stadium and a full game of Allen Robinson.

Outside of running back Bronson Hill, the Eagles don’t bring much on offense. The defense will have a strong day scoring off an interception return and the running game will get on track with Zach Zwinak going over the century mark on the ground. Eastern Michigan will add some points late to make the final tally look a bit more respectable.

It’s a given that Penn State will win. More importantly, the Nittany Lions need to remain healthy after four quarters. Bill O’Brien and company will need Mike Hull and Kyle Carter at full strength for a much more formidable opponent in Central Florida next Saturday.

Greg Schlosser: 

Penn State 34, Eastern Michigan 7

To be honest, I know absolutely nothing about Eastern Michigan and there’s probably a good reason for that. After barely getting by Howard 34-24 in week one, I don’t think EMU will provide much of a fight for Penn State this weekend. I fully expect Hackenberg to have a good game and really get comfortable under center. I also expect the running game to pick up after a lackluster week, as either Zwinak or Belton will rush for 100 yards. Barring any crazy injuries/mysterious suspensions, Penn State has no problem blowing out Eastern Michigan.

Alex Robinson:

Penn State 51, Eastern Michigan 0

Ron English is 11-38 in his four years as head coach of EMU. Expect that to be 11-39 after this weekend. Stephen Obeng-Aygapong will have another huge game, and the offense certainly won’t go 1-16 on 3rd downs again. Look for the defense to score a touchdown, Christian Hackenberg to play the first 3 quarters before Tyler Ferguson comes in for the 4th, and the student section won’t see it because 50% of them will have left by then.

David Abruzzese:

Penn State 52, Eastern Michigan 7

Yup, Penn State cracks the 50 burger in this “contest”. If Bill O’Brien had any concerns about Hackenberg’s ability to move the ball around, they were answered with his 271 yard performance against Syracuse. As opposed to last week’s conservative gameplan, BOB decides to test the waters early and allow Hackenberg to let it fly. Allen Robinson is the recipient of Hack’s first bomb, followed by a Nyeem Wartman strip sack on EMU’s first play from scrimmage. Bill Belton makes the most of his limited carries, slashing and dashing the EMU defensive front for a monster game.The EMU rushing attack is almost non-existent, with the PSU front 7 having no problem shutting them down early.

At the end of this slaughterfest, Hackenberg will have cracked the 300-yard mark for the first of many occasions, the defense will have come away with at least four turnovers, and Penn State’s three pronged running game will establish themselves amongst the nations best. Most importantly, Penn State will come out of this one with their second win of the year (while barely breaking a sweat).

Mitchell Wilston:

Penn State 34, Eastern Michigan 10

Eastern Michigan is a weak opponent but I’m expecting a slow start until PSU’s offense finds a groove. I would look for TEs to be much more involved Saturday — possibly a big day for Jesse James. Defensively the only real challenge is RB Bronson Hill, who had 2 TDs last week. This game will be decided by the third quarter. Hopefully the second string will see a lot of playing time; with a tough Big 10 schedule coming up Penn State can’t afford to have injuries against teams like EMU.

Kyle Lucas:

Penn State 42, Eastern Michigan 10

Penn State will look to establish the running game early after last week’s struggle before O’Brien lets his true freshmen quarterback air it out for a couple of quarters. Don’t expect an Eastern Michigan defense, that struggled with FCS opponent Howard, to get in the way much. Expect the Nittany Lion defense to dominate the entire game and record a couple of turnovers.

About the Author

Zach Berger

Zach Berger is a StateCollege.com reporter and Onward State's Managing Editor Emeritus. You can find him at the Phyrst more nights than not. If he had to pick a last meal, Zach would go for a medium-rare New York strip steak with a side of garlic mashed potatoes and a cold BrewDog Punk IPA. You can reach him via e-mail at [email protected] or on Twitter at @theZachBerger.

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