Penn State Football Preview: Pittsburgh
Mitch Stewart, Jon Gross, Dylan Huberman and Zach Kaplan break down Penn State's matchup against Pittsburgh.
After an excellent game in a 52-0 victory against Akron, the No. 4 Penn State Nittany Lions (1-0, 0-0 Big Ten) plan to keep rolling against the Pittsburgh Panthers (1-0, 0-0 ACC) this Saturday.
Head coach James Franklin is quoted saying that their performance against Akron was “the most complete game” they have ever had. Of course, repeating that performance would be ideal but, Pittsburgh is known to have plenty of tenacity. No matter what the state of their team is, this could be more difficult than expected. The key for the Nittany Lions to repeat success is going to be their defense. The Panthers have a very solid running-back duo lead by Qadree Ollison and Quadree Henderson. Ollison was able to punch in 2 TDs in their overtime win against Youngstown State. Penn State’s front 7 has to make it a priority to ensure the Panthers never get their ground game going. By forcing Panther’s senior quarterback Max Browne be the one to beat them, it can assure Penn State’s victory.
On the offensive side of the ball, if the Nittany Lions can achieve half the success they achieved against Akron, the Pittsburgh defense will not stand a chance. Junior running back Saquon Barkley is putting college football on notice that he is the best running back in the country. With 172 yards on 14 carries with 2 touchdowns in his first outing this season, Barkley is without a doubt at the top of the Heisman voting. As for junior quarterback Trace McSorley, he has to take advantage of Pittsburgh’s defensive backs who allowed 311 yards to Youngstown quarterback Hunter Wells. With weapons like junior wide receiver Juwan Johnson, senior wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton, and senior tight end Mike Gesicki, McSorley should have a field day against the Panther defense. However, the biggest surprise in the Akron game was the utilization of backup quarterback Tommy Stevens. It will be interesting to see how Coach Franklin will utilize Stevens against a stronger opponent. If he achieves the same amount of success as he did against Akron, the Panthers will be in big trouble. The packages that use Stevens have opened up new doors for a Nittany Lion offense that was already considered dynamic and one of the best in college football.
As for the Panthers, they barely escaped Youngstown State with a 28-21 overtime victory. Now, as they gear up for a rematch against the Nittany Lions, they are going to have a lot to handle this go around. Since their victory over Penn State last season, Penn State went on to win the Big Ten Championship and compete in the Rose Bowl, where they lost against USC in one of the closest games in Rose Bowl history. Now with more weapons and momentum, Penn State is looking for revenge. To make matters worse, the Panthers are the visiting team. This is the first time since 1999 that Pittsburgh has played in Happy Valley. The Nittany Lions are ready to get their revenge with a 33-10 victory.
Carlos Flores is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.