After a hard-fought loss to UCF, the Penn State Nittany Lions will look to bounce back this week when the Golden Flashes of Kent State come to town. With the Big Ten season looming, there are some issues that need to be addressed and Kent State serves as a prime opponent for the job.
Kent State is coming off of lopsided losses to LSU and Bowling Green. Their only win came in Week 1 when they defeated Liberty by a score of 17-10. Making matters worse, the Flashes will likely be without their best player, Dri Archer.
The last time these two faced off was in 2010, when Penn State came away with a 24-0 win with Rob Bolden at the helm. The 2013 version probably won't be as close.
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Place: Beaver Stadium, State College, Pa.
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: Penn State Network Affiliates
Spread: Penn State opened as a 14 point favorite but that has moved up to -20, per VegasInsider.com.
Penn State came away punch drunk last week, having given up big plays all night to UCF. If the Flashes can get a big play early, they can put doubt into the Penn State defense and ride the early momentum.
Penn State has turned the ball over in every game this year. Kent State will need to keep that streak going and capitalize on it to keep up.
Cover Allen Robinson
Sounds simple enough, but if Robinson is allowed to go off for his fourth straight 100 yard game, it could be a long afternoon for the Golden Flashes. Christian Hackenberg loves throwing to his standout wide receiver, so adding another defender to the mix could help in flustering the freshman quarterback or bait him into a bad throw.
Penn State can get the Kent State defense on its heels early with a dosage of no-huddle "NASCAR" style offense early in the game.
Eliminate Turnovers and Penalties
Bill O'Brien and his coaching staff will look to limit mistakes against a lesser opponent to re-ignite the confidence heading into Big Ten play.
Pressure the Quarterback
The Nittany Lions have not been able to get to the opposing quarterback as often as they would like. This is a chance to challenge defensive ends Deion Barnes and CJ Olaniyan to make some noise in the Kent State backfield.
Get Off the Bus
Penn State needs to show up. As Michigan showed last week, it's dangerous to take an opponent lightly. O'Brien will have to make sure his players aren't over-confident.
QB Colin Reardon
The Flashes have a standout freshman QB of their own in Reardon and he got his first big road test last week at LSU. In Death Valley, Reardon completed 69 percent of his passes and didn't turn the ball over. For the season, he has accounted for more than 650 yards of total offense and five touchdowns. He has yet to throw an interception in his young career.
WR Chris Humphrey
Humphrey is the Flashes' big-play threat. He is averaging 14.3 yards per catch on his 13 catches and has two touchdowns in 2013.
DL Roosevelt Nix
Nix, an NFL prospect, has just eight tackles this year, but half of them have come behind the line of scrimmage. As a freshman, Nix won the MAC Defensive Player of the Year award and hasn't dropped off since. The KSU staff will move Nix around on the defensive line to give Penn State different looks. He can be effective from anywhere on the field.
RT Adam Gress said that PSU is well-aware of Kent State DL Roosevelt Nix. Said Mac McWhorter mentioned him by name in film room.— Josh Moyer (@ESPNJoshMoyer) September 17, 2013
WR/RB Dri Archer
Though Archer is doubtful, if he can go he is a dangerous weapon. Last year, Archer gained notice as a Heisman contender when he rushed for 1,429 yards and 16 touchdowns in addition to leading the Flashes in receptions and receiving yards while returning three kickoffs for touchdowns. He's one of the best offensive players in the country.
Christian Hackenberg to Allen Robinson
These two have hooked up for 5 plays of 40 yards already and Robinson has over 100 yards in each game this season. Although it may be for just one year, these two are a fun pair to watch and you can expect to see a big play (or two) from them on Saturday.
TE Adam Breneman
The stud freshman led the tight ends last week in receptions with four but was flagged for a false start and cost the team a timeout when he didn't go out with the punt team. Breneman has undeniable talent but must tighten up the peripheral aspect of his game if he wants to keep seeing the field.
DE Deion Barnes
Penn State's best pass rusher has faced quite a bit of criticism this week, from both the media and fans. He has too much ability to remain quiet and will make plenty of noise against a Kent State offensive line that will be overwhelmed.
O'Brien says opponents are running away from Deion Barnes. They'll try moving him around to create more opportunities as the season goes on.— Tim Owen (@Tim_OwenBWI) September 17, 2013
Good practice on Monday. The players are focused on Kent State!. Come check us out Sat. 3:30pm at Beaver Stadium. Keep the excitement going!— Stan Hixon (@Coach_S_Hixon) September 17, 2013
Bill on Alex Butterworth: "I don’t mean to say he’s punting poorly, but we have to get him to be more consistent." #PennState— York Daily Record (@YDRPennState) September 17, 2013
O'Brien says right off the top that "THUD" has nothing to do with tackling issues at #PennState.— Greg Pickel (@GregPickel) September 17, 2013
O'Brien: Penn State's young Cbs learned a lot on Saturday. They had good plays and bad plays. Lucas and Williams 'will get better & better.'— Lions247 (@Lions247) September 17, 2013
Best game for the #PennState O-line so far, O'Brien says, came against UCF.— Audrey Snyder (@audsnyder4) September 17, 2013
#PennState coach Bill O'Brien says QB Christian Hackenberg is calm, "which is good for me because I'm not a calm guy."— Mark Wogenrich (@MarkWogenrich) September 17, 2013
O'Brien encourages all fans to wear blue for the "Blue Out" Saturday. "One of our commitments here is to put an end to...child abuse."— Collegian Footblog (@psufootblog) September 17, 2013
It's a shame that Dri Archer likely won't play this weekend because he is a real joy to watch. He's missed much of this year and Kent State has struggled offensively, ranking 96th in the country in passing yards, 95th in rushing yards and 110th in points scored.
The Nittany Lions should gain some confidence back this weekend with an offensive explosion. Allen Robinson will extend his streak of 100-yard games and at least one running back will join him.
Expect Deion Barnes to answer his critics and make some noise in the Kent State backfield while the secondary benefits from the pressure.
Last week, I took some heat for picking UCF to pull off the "upset..."
@TimTolley_BR are you seriously picking UCF over PSU In the Beav? I want some of what you're smoking.— Bill Boy (@nectir) September 11, 2013
I'll try to earn some fans back this week as Penn State rolls the Golden Flashes.
Prediction: Penn State 51 - Kent State 10