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Staff Predictions: Penn State vs. Appalachian State

Penn State begins the 2018 season against Appalachian State on Saturday and the expectations are high for James Franklin’s squad. Currently sitting at No. 10 in the AP Top 25, Penn State’s an early favorite for the College Football Playoff according to a number of experts.

Franklin would like to remind us to take things one game at a time, so here’s what our staff imagines for Saturday afternoon.

Matt Fox: Penn State 38, App State 13

The Nittany Lions will kick off their season against Appalachian State this Saturday, and I think it’ll be a relatively comfortable win. Look for the youth and inexperience across the roster to show early, as Penn State irons out some kinks on both sides of the ball. Ultimately, the Nittany Lions should pull away in the end.

Elissa Hill: Penn State 21, App State 17

With the strength of both Penn State’s and App State’s defenses this season, I think this will be a low-scoring game. Although App State’s upset over Michigan was more than a decade ago, the FBS newbie gained a lot of confidence from that fated game and I’m betting the program hasn’t lost it quite yet. This one will be a little too close for comfort, but the Nittany Lions will come out on top in the end with a few breakout plays from the likes of Miles Sanders and KJ Hamler.

Mitch Stewart: Penn State 38, App State 17

While I don’t think the Nittany Lions are going to have a Michigan moment, App State is an entirely different program from that decade-old legend. It’s an FBS-program now, and the Mountaineers have won 30 games over the past three seasons. Expect a one-score game at halftime, but for Trace McSorley to lead the Nittany Lions to victory in the second half thanks to the team’s depth.

Steve Connelly: Penn State 21, App State 13

It’s the first game of the year and the Mountaineers return a pretty strong defense. The Nittany Lions will find enough momentum in the second half to earn a tight win, but Appalachian State isn’t the usual home-opening walkover, especially with the number of new faces expected to perform in their first game as the primary starter.

Derek Bannister: Penn State 41, App State 10

I basically spent the entire week trying to convince the world that App State is better than Pitt, and I do believe that is true. The problem is that I don’t think the Pitt game will be particularly close, either. I imagine McSorley putting up a monster first half and Miles Sanders running for 100 yards before the third quarter starts. The Nittany Lions shouldn’t have much to worry about defensively, and I believe the offensive line will really show up.

Mikey Mandarino: Penn State 28, App State 17

I don’t care if you play in the Sun Belt or the SEC — I refuse to sleep on a team that’s won 36 of its past 45 games. As we all know, Appalachian State is a good football team that has gone toe-to-toe with some elite opponents. Sure, they haven’t beaten a top school since the most famous upset in college football history happened in 2007, but don’t brush App State aside so easily. Penn State is too talented to lose this game, but I think the Mountaineers will safely cover the 24-point spread.

Ethan Kasales: Penn State 45, App State 14

Star running back Jalin Moore drew plenty of praise from James Franklin during his weekly press conference, but Penn State’s offense simply boasts too much firepower for Appalachian State. Trace McSorley only needs three more touchdowns to become the first player in program history to reach 80 — a feat he should easily accomplish against App State.

Navin Zachariah: Penn State 35, App State 14

This game won’t be as big of a blowout as some may believe it’s going to be. I think it’s going to take a little time for this defense to start shutting out opponents, as there are a lot of new pieces to this starting group. Trace McSorley will shine and Miles Sanders will surprise, but I think Juwan Johnson could be the breakout star of the game.

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Posts from the all-student staff of Onward State.

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