Staff Predictions: Penn State vs. Kent State
Get ready for another football Saturday at Beaver Stadium tomorrow as the Nittany Lions (2-1) are set to face the Kent State Golden Flashes (1-2). Penn State, coming off a tough loss in a close game against Central Florida, will try and take advantage of a weak Kent State team in the final game of the non-conference schedule. Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m. Let’s take a look at what our writers think about the game:
Penn State 41, Kent State 17
Remember Eastern Michigan in Week Two? Get ready to watch a repeat of that game minus the slow offensive start. Hackenberg and the rest of the unit now have 180 minutes of football under their belt. The rhythm is there and the growing pains are gone. It’s about time for the offense to put together four quarters of great play and the Golden Flashes are the perfect opponent to do it against. Hack throws for three touchdowns in the game with at least one going to Allen Robinson. The running back trio adds two more. Ficken kicks two field goals, surpassing the career-high 47-yarder that he hit last Saturday.
The defense bounces back from the whooping it took against Central Florida and limits the Golden Flashes to just 17 points and less than 300 yards of total offense. Colin Reardon will beat the Penn State secondary for a pair of scores, but the run defense holds strong and the Nittany Lions enter the Big Ten schedule with some momentum and a ton of confidence after beating up on a weak opponent.
Penn State 45, Kent State 20
This game is going to get ugly. I say 45-20, but I think it gets to 45-13 and O’Brien takes the starters out. Kent State isn’t a very good defensive team, and they’re especially vulnerable through the air. They’re letting up 270 passing yards per game and were shredded by Bowling Green a few weeks ago. I think Penn State’s running backs have their usual solid games, but I expect Christian Hackenberg to go off. I don’t think 450 yards and five touchdowns are completely out of the question, especially because he has the frontrunner for Big Ten Offensive POY on the outside in Allen Robinson.
I think Penn State’s defense comes out pissed after getting embarrassed last week and they put on a clinic against a depleted Kent State offense. The team’s best player, Dri Archer, is hurt. The team’s second best player, Trayion Durham, is averaging 3 YPC this year. I think Colin Reardon has a nice game and the defense has some “bend but don’t break” moments, but I expect the Nittany Lions to smother the Golden Flashes.
Penn State 41 Kent State 17
Kent State is the perfect opponent after a demoralizing loss. The Golden Flashes are missing its best player Dri Archer and have given up 32 points per game, including 41 to MACtastic Bowling Green a couple weeks ago. Expect Christian Hackenberg to have his best game yet as he loses the freshman jitters and moves the ball down the field with ease.
Penn State’s offensive unit should get a big push against the Kent State front to allow Zwinak, Belton, and Lynch to pick up big chunks of yards at will. This one will be over quickly.
Penn State 38, Kent State 10
Kent State is awful. The Golden Flashes barely edged out FCS heavyweight Liberty University for a 17-10 win, then proceeded to be blown out by both Bowling Green and LSU. I think Penn State’s defense takes this game as an opportunity to recover its confidence after the drubbing it took from Central Florida last week.
As for the offense? The three-headed attack of Zwinak-Belton-Lynch will gash a weak Kent State defense for 200+ yards while Hackenberg will complement the Nittany Lions ground game with another solid performance through the air. For Allen Robinson, I think we can expect around 150 yards and a score or two.
Penn State 37, Kent State 14
Somehow, Kent State finished the 2012 regular season in the BCS Top 25. So far, the Golden Flashes have proven two things this year: Its defense has problems stopping FBS offenses and its offense has problems scoring against all defenses, FBS or FCS. This team is horrible and if it wasn’t for a fairly easy conference schedule, they probably wouldn’t get more than two or three wins this year.
Don’t get me wrong, Penn State did not look good last week, especially defensively. However, its first two weeks showed promise and the team’s play late against UCF was impressive. This Penn State team is still very good and should easily handle a weak-at-best Kent State, no problem. Expect Hackenberg to continue his success but to see even more involvement from the Penn State running game.
Penn State 34, Kent State 17
Penn State wont have a problem on offense against Kent State. Through three games the Golden Flashes have given up an average of 34 points and 456 yards. Expect O’Brien to open up the playbook and let Christian Hackenberg let it fly all game. Look for Zach Zwinak to record his eighth career 100-yard rushing game.
While the Nittany Lions defense won’t be facing another quarterback of the caliber of UCF’s Blake Bortles, redshirt freshman Colin Reardon is good. He’s completed almost 66 percent of his passes with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Last week against No. 8 LSU he completed 69 percent of his passes for 190 yards. Don’t be surprised if Reardon and his top two receivers, Chris Humphrey and Tyshon Goode, try to replicate UCF’s success last week. Reardon is a threat on the ground as he is the team’s second-leading rusher with 106 yards and a score.