Penn State vs. Appalachian State fearless prediction and game preview.
Date: Saturday, September 1
Game Time: 3:30 pm ET
Venue: Beaver Stadium, State College, PA
Penn State (0-0) vs. Appalachian State (0-0) Game Preview
You know what’s coming.
Everyone will point out the Appalachian State all-timer upset over Michigan to open up the 2007 season as a reason why the big shocker might just happen to start out the 2018 campaign in Happy Valley. But this isn’t just some feel-good, high-end FCS program anymore.
The Mountaineers have won 30 games over the last three seasons. Penn State has won 28. They’ve won three bowls, the Nittany Lions have won two.
They also have a team good enough to win the Sun Belt title, or at least get to the new conference championship game.
There’s some retooling to do for both teams, but this isn’t just a typical paycheck game for the opener. It would obviously be an upset if ASU pulled this off, but a total shocker? No way.
It just so happens that Pitt is playing at the same time as this is going on – that’s who Penn State plays next. That’s going to be the rivalry showdown Nittany Lion fans will focus on, but this will be a terrific test.
And if the Mountaineers pull this off? They have to do to Arkansas State and finish off the year against Troy, but if they’re good enough to win this, it should be smooth sailing the rest of the way.
One Reason Why Appalachian State Will Win
Is the Penn State offensive line going to be better? Four starters are back, but the front five has to be a whole lot stronger and the pass protection has to be a whole lot better.
The Mountaineers might have changed defensive coordinators, but nothing changes when it comes to getting behind the line. They were 17th in the nation last season in sacks and 30th in tackles for loss.
They might have struggled at getting into the backfield against the better teams, but when they were unbeaten last year when they were able to generate two sacks or more. Against Trace McSorley, they have to get the pressure going and not stop.
The Penn State passing game has to go against Clifton Duck and Tae Hayes – the best corner tandem in the Sun Belt. Make McSorley hurry his throws, and the ASU D will win its share of battles.
One Reason Why Penn State Will Win
The Appalachian State offensive line was amazing in pass protection last season, but it’s about to get overrun by the Nittany Lion pass rush.
Most of the top tacklers have to be replaced on the Penn State D, but the team that led the Big Ten in sacks and has a phenomenal group of defensive ends should be able to get into the backfield.
ASU is breaking in a new starting quarterback – it’s not going to have the steadiness of Taylor Lamb to count on anymore. Considering the Nittany Lion defensive front will focus solely on stopping RB Jalin Moore and limiting the ground attack, the Mountaineers have to be great through the air, and they’re going to be inconsistent.
What’s Going To Happen
Penn State is going to try to prove a point.
The defense that has to replace eight starters, and will rely on a slew of key underclassmen, will want to come out roaring.
New offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne will want to prove that the attack can keep going without former OC Joe Moorhead as well as Saquon Barkley, and the team is going to look to generate a buzz.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, everyone wants a big Week One, but some teams just want to get the new parts working and play it close to the vest to save the big plays for the bigger battles ahead. Not this week.
However, even though Penn State will bring the intensity and come up with a good performance, Appalachian State will be good enough to keep this from being the Nittany Lion Invitational.
The ASU defense will keep the game in range, but when the offense needs to come through with a big scoring drive, the Penn State D will come through with the key stop needed.
There won’t be anything wrong with Penn State when looking at the final score. Appalachian State is going to be that good.