Staff Predictions: No. 15 Penn State vs. Buffalo

No. 15 Penn State football (1-0) didn’t face much trouble in its week 1 thrashing of Idaho, and it should be more of the same on Saturday when the Nittany Lions host Buffalo at 7:30 p.m. Saturday back at Beaver Stadium.

Our staff is once again confident that James Franklin’s squad will have little trouble against a far-lesser opponent during its first under-the-lights game of the season.

Matt DiSanto (1-0): Penn State 51, Buffalo 10

The Nittany Lions should use the momentum they gained against Idaho last week to steamroll over Buffalo this weekend. I expect Penn State’s defense to bully the Bulls’ offense on the ground and consistently get after their quarterback, although it’ll be tough to follow up the seven-sack total the group tallied last weekend.

I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Ja’Juan Seider’s running backs spread the wealth and each contribute meaningfully once again. While this match-up is more challenging than Idaho, Penn State should have little trouble ringing the Victory Bell come Saturday night.

Rory Pelella (1-0): Penn State 41, Buffalo 13

Expect Penn State to cruise to another victory this week against Buffalo. Sean Clifford was able to shake out all of his nerves against Idaho and will try to make a big statement during week 2 alongside his speedy sidekick KJ Hamler and other players who showed flashes of promise, including Justin Shorter, Journey Brown, and Devyn Ford.

The defense, on the other hand, is coming off quite an impressive performance and should play with all the confidence in the world against Buffalo. I’ll give the Bulls a touchdown and two field goals in garbage time, but for the most part, they should have a pretty tough time putting points on the board.

Mitch Stewart (0-0): Penn State 52, Buffalo 13

With a freshman signal-caller and two sophomore running backs leading their backfield, the Bulls might struggle in the loud environment at Beaver Stadium. This is Penn State’s first night game of the year, so you know the crowd will have a different energy than some other non-conference meeting with a MAC East opponent at noon. 

Expect Journey Brown to assert himself as the lead back in the group this weekend, and don’t turn your attention away when the second unit defense comes in late in the game. Jayson Oweh and Brandon Smith have blinding speed and would probably be starters nearly anywhere else in the nation. Watch out for them flying around against the young Buffalo offense on Saturday night.

Hope Damato (0-0): Penn State 62, Buffalo 7

Coming off of a huge game one win last weekend, I see the Nittany Lions improving their record to 2-0 this Saturday against Buffalo. Sean Clifford had a productive day against Idaho with 280 passing yards and two scores, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he builds on that performance with an even better outing this weekend. Buffalo’s offense will be no match for Penn State’s defensive unit, so expect the Nittany Lions to pick up plenty of sacks and tackles-for-loss early and often in this one.

Anthony Colucci (1-0): Penn State 44, Buffalo 0

I feel a classic Brent Pry shutout coming. This defense is special, and its showing last week certainly gave fans something to be excited about — even if it was against an FCS opponent. Although it might actually get more than five first downs, Buffalo isn’t much better. Get ready for a Yetur Gross-Matos xx Shaka Toney xx Robert Windsor sack party and to see Micah Parsons run back a pick-six.

On offense, whatever jitters Sean Clifford had to start out last week should be gone, and I see him asserting himself with a breakout performance through the air and on the ground. Like last week, this one won’t ever be close.

Will Pegler (1-0): Penn State 41, Buffalo 7

While I don’t expect the Nittany Lions to have as dominant of a performance as they did against Idaho, I don’t see this one being very close either. Penn State’s defense is simply too good for a team like Buffalo to hang with. I expect Yetur Gross-Matos to consistently blow up plays in the backfield, while linebackers like Micah Parsons and Cam Brown will be constant factors in shutting down the Bulls’ offensive strategy.

On the offensive side, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a number of running backs get in the end zone again in another exciting performance. I also expect to see Sean Clifford orchestrate another efficient day at quarterback. In addition to Clifford throwing for a few scores, I’m going to predict a rushing touchdown for the redshirt sophomore as well. Fans should expect the Nittany Lions to dominate every phase of the game once again this weekend.

Mikey Mandarino (1-0): Penn State 42, Buffalo 13

Buffalo shouldn’t give Penn State too many issues, but I don’t think we’ll see another 70-plus point effort from the Nittany Lions. The Bulls are probably the strongest non-conference opponent James Franklin’s squad will match up with this year (sorry, Pitt) — particularly because of their two-headed monster at running back and solid defense. This team is coming off a 10-win season in which it played for a conference title. Sure, the Bulls have a new starting quarterback and lost the fifth-best tackler in FBS football from last season’s roster, but they’re also returning 15 starters from last year’s squad.

I think the Nittany Lions may get caught out by Buffalo’s running game on a couple of occasions, which will lead to points allowed. However, I also expect Yetur Gross-Matos, Robert Windsor, and the rest of Sean Spencer’s Wild Dogs to force plenty of 3rd-and-long situations that Matt Myers — the Bulls’ young quarterback — will have trouble with.

On offense, Sean Clifford should throw for more than 300 yards against a pass defense that has a JuCo transfer and a new starting safety. However, the other two starters in the secondary are returners who had great 2018 seasons. Penn State’s running game will also face a much tougher test in the Bulls’ front seven, which features veteran linebacker James Patterson and a strong defensive end duo.

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