The 1-3 Army-West Point Black Knights are coming to Happy Valley for a noon kickoff with the 3-1 Nittany Lions this Saturday. Because of some underwhelming losses already this year, our writers believe that Army has no chance against Penn State.
Cade Reed (season record 2-0): Penn State 35, Army 7
I have a massive respect for any branch of our country’s armed forces, but in terms of football prowess, Army doesn’t stand out. Penn State should have no issue defeating the Black Knights in front of a sold-out Beaver Stadium. I don’t see the game as a blowout, but I think the Nittany Lions should handle Army with ease.
Penn State should be short-handed after a slew of injuries marred the team last week against San Diego State, and unless the team is in dire need of points, James Franklin will be leaving many of his stars on the bench.
In a cold and rainy bout, I do not see Army’s offense that has losses to Fordham, Connecticut, and Wake Forest, putting up more than one score on Penn State’s nationally-touted defense. Conversely, I see Hackenberg having ample time to pick apart the Army defense. With any luck, the backups will be playing in the third quarter to avoid any further injuries.
Tim Reams (season record 2-0): Penn State 38, Army 10
Although the Army Black Knights are going to come out and put up a hard fight in a sold-out and rainy Beaver Stadium, they’ll be headed back to West Point with a loss under their belt. The Nittany Lions’ size, strength, depth, and speed will prove to be way too much for the Black Knights to handle on defense, offense, and even special teams. The game will feature a ton of running from both offenses, and this one will be nothing short of a battle in the trenches. The lines will go at it every single play, and despite the lack of formidable size on the Black Knights’ front, the Nittany Lions cannot play complacently at any point on Saturday. The Army Black Knights will come out with an intense attitude and physical play style, and will give their full effort and heart in a packed Beaver Stadium. This game will be a highly entertaining one for football purists and lovers of all things run game as the Army Black Knights will play with their signature triple-option play calling system. The game will be a cold, rainy, and packed one but will offer plenty of excitement for fans as the Nittany Lions take on the Black Knights in their new uniforms with their signature play-calling.
Ben Rappaport (season record 3-1): Penn State 35, Army 3
Penn State is in the midst of the easiest part of its schedule, and really I don’t see Army stopping the current win streak. With a cold and rainy day being the forecast for Saturday, I foresee it being a physical, sloppy game. Penn State’s greatest defensive strength lies with its strong defensive line and Army’s triple option offense should have no chance against Anthony Zettel’s unit. Look for Penn State to blow the game open early and have the defense stop any pressure presented by the Black Knights. Don’t be surprised if the backups are in early in this contest.
Penn State will most likely stick to a heavy run game despite an injured back field. I can totally see Hackenberg also having a strong showing, especially coming off his strongest game since the Pinstripe Bowl. All and all, it’ll be an easy win for the Nittany Lions. Army already has losses to Fordham, UConn, and Wake Forest, there really is no way the Black Knights beat a much more talented Penn State team in front of a sold-out Beaver Stadium crowd. Hell, I don’t even think Army will score a touchdown.
Patrick Koerbler (season record: 2-0): Penn State 38, Army 7
Let’s be as straight forward as we can be here: Army isn’t a good football team. While the weather will once again be miserable, and Army’s triple-option attack could cause some harm, Penn State shouldn’t have much of a problem with the Black Knights.
I’ve been hesitant to put my trust in this Penn State team. No, not the defense, but the offense. Going back to last season and then seeing the Temple game, can you blame me? But after two performances that exceeded my expectations, I’m going to put some faith in John Donovan. Even without Akeel Lynch and (probably) Saquon Barkley, I actually think Penn State’s offense continues to roll, and puts on another impressive performance as it heads into conference play next weekend.
Doug Leeson (season record 3-1): Penn State 27, Army 13
Army runs a complicated triple-option offense and its quarterback has passed the ball 22 times in four games, but has rushed 68. That seems scary, and on film it is, but this team lost to Fordham, UConn, and Wake Forest. Sorry Black Knights, you have no chance against this defense. Hackenberg’s best opportunity for a 300-yard game is this week, if the weather allows him to try. I think Franklin and the coaching staff will sit some of its injured (or allegedly injured players), but even with a short bench, wins by a few scores.
The biggest storyline for me will be what ceremonies are planned for Military Appreciation Day, and whether or not we’ll be able to see them in their full glory with impending bad weather. But again, as far as football goes, this should be a stress-free win.
Jacob Abrams (season record 3-1): Penn State 34, Army 14
Just like last week against San Diego State, I don’t see Penn State having any problem taking down Army this Saturday.
Even if Army runs an interesting offense scheme with its triple option, Penn State’s front seven is too tough against the run. Army quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw could create confusion to start the contest, but expect the Nittany Lions to adjust to the style by the second half.
As for the offense, Christian Hackenberg needs another solid week to carry the Nittany Lions. With Barkley’s playing time in question and Lynch being out indefinitely, the junior quarterback will be the focal point once again of the offense. I expect Hackenberg to perform well against a defense that is primarily focused on stopping the run.
Matt Coleman (season record 2-1): Penn State 38, Army 24
Penn State is winding down its easy, cupcake nonconference schedule with a team anything but easy. Army comes in only holding a 1-3 record against subpar opponents. However, the Black Knights do boast one of the trickiest offenses to defend: the triple option. Although the triple option can cause defensive problems at times, James Franklin and Co-Defensive Coordinator Brent Pry have played Army enough to know how to stop its offense.
Expect Christian Hackenberg to capitalize on the Army defense and put up numbers comparable to last week. Penn State’s offense shouldn’t struggle against Army. While it may be a high-scoring game, Penn State will come out on top.
David Abruzzese (season record 3-1): Penn State 40, Army 14
I’ll begin by saying that as a former high school wide receiver forced to play in a run-based offense, I vehemently hate offensive systems like the triple option. They aren’t fun to watch, and spare me the “it goes back to the game’s roots” defense, because quite frankly I’d rather watch a double-header between the Phillies and the Rockies on a Tuesday afternoon than watch one quarter of triple option football. And screw Paul Johnson and Georgia Tech for glorifying this horrid excuse for an offense — they didn’t deserve Calvin Johnson.
Anyway, this game will be a bloodbath. Army has posted a losing record 17 out of the last 18 seasons, yet for some reason remains one of college football’s three independent teams. The Nittany Lions are stout against the run, and Troy Reeder is poised to have himself a field day against a team that passes the football around six times per game.
Christian Hackenberg looks like his 2013 self again, and expect him to torch Army’s subpar secondary all game long. Sure, the Black Knights put up 58 points against Eastern Michigan, but allow me to remind you that they beat Eastern Michigan. This one will be over before it even began, and if you’re among those faithful supporters who stays the whole game, I’ll raise a hot cup of coffee in your honor from the press box.
Ethan Kasales (season record 3-0): Penn State 45, Army 10
Even if Saturday’s contest makes it three-of-four home tilts dampened by rain, don’t expect Penn State’s defense, which boasts an FBS-leading 18 sacks, to give up many big plays against the run-based Black Knights.
If the weather doesn’t cooperate, Army West Point will be forced to rely even more on the ground game. Regardless, Sean Spencer’s “Wild Dogs” are primed for yet another field day, which will give the offense plenty of opportunities to put up points.
I’m also interested to see how Penn State’s stable of young running backs perform as Akeel Lynch and Saquon Barkley will likely be in street clothes this weekend. Nick Scott and Mark Allen are familiar to Nittany Lion fans at this point, but fellow redshirt freshman back Johnathan Thomas could see his first game action.
Ben Berkman (season record 3-1): Penn State 30, Army 10
If neither team is swept from the field by the waves of the pending Hurricane Joaquin, Penn State will easily pick up its fourth win in a row Saturday against Army. Army lost to Fordham, Connecticut, and Wake Forest by a total of 10 points, and then trounced Eastern Michigan last weekend. It could easily be 4-0, but that doesn’t mean it’s a strong side.
Army QB Ahmad Bradshaw doubles as the team’s leading rusher, and can do a little bit of everything with the ball. But an injury has rendered his status questionable, and he shouldn’t be at 100 percent if he does play. Look for the Lions to stuff the run game as they’ve done all year, and put pressure on Army’s option attack. Hackenberg should have the time and space for another big day – even in the rain – and it should allow Lynch and Barkley to rest their undisclosed injuries.
Kaitlyn Dividock (season record 3-0): Penn State 34, Army 13
I’m not going to sugar coat it, Army has no chance of winning this game. Yeah, the Black Knights definitely have the ability on the effort side of things to hold their own against Penn State, but they don’t have nearly the amount of big-play talent like James Franklin’s boys.
Here’s why they’re going to lose: The Black Knights have this weird fondness for the triple option, which is arguably the worst offensive scheme in the history of the game. I hate it, it sucks, end of story. That being said, Army has had some success in its running game using it, but it won’t even make a dent in the solid wall of Penn State linebackers, who’ve stopped the rush of every team they’ve faced so far. The Nittany Lions’ defense, led by Zettel, Johnson, and Reeder, will hit them hard and on every single down.
Penn State’s offense is finally looking (dare I say it) sharp. Last weekend’s game is proof that Hackenberg and his wide receiving corps can actually connect for huge and exciting passing plays. Maybe this will open up Donovan’s playbook even more and the Lions won’t have to rely so heavily on the running game? With injuries to Lynch and Barkley, this improvement is definitely peaking at the right time.
Don’t forget your ponchos! Onward to 4-1.
What’s your prediction? Let us know in the comments.