The last time the Nittany Lions played the Zips was in 2006 when they won 34-16. Penn State has only played the Zips three times in their history, and they are 3-0 overall against Akron. I see nothing different in this game. So, let's break it all down.
Opponent: Akron Zips (0-0)
When: September 5, 12 noon EST - Big Ten Network
Where: Beaver Stadium
Penn State Key Players: QB Daryll Clark, HB Evan Royster, ILB Sean Lee
Akron Key Players: QB Chris Jacquemain, WR Deryn Bowser, OLB Mike Thomas
Penn State Keys to the Game
1. Don't overlook teams like Akron: Too many times I have seen teams that look ahead to conference play and forget about the opponent in front of them. Like Ohio State vs. Ohio last year. Ohio gave them quite a scare because they were looking ahead to USC.
2. Don't make stupid turnovers: In games against teams like Akron, even mediocre play from a PSU team will most likely win. But, it's the turnovers that can really kill your team. Making four turnovers against even an Akron team can be deadly because Akron could very easily turn each one into six points.
3. Play like Penn State: If they just play like the team that they are, they will win. This would also be a good first game for the somewhat inexperienced wide receivers to get some experience against a fairly easy opponent.
If PSU just plays like themselves and doesn't look ahead, they should easily win.
Akron Keys to the Game
1. Execute through the air: Penn State has a fairly weak secondary, and Akron will need to pass because they aren't going anywhere on the ground. Although that could be a problem with QB Chris Jacquemain, who threw 14 interceptions last year. They will NEED to execute in the passing game to even think of winning.
2. Shut down Evan Royster: With the big three receivers of Penn State gone, running will be a bigger part of PSU's game. Royster is very fast and explosive, so the linebackers are going to be on alert and get good jumps to take down Royster. Shutting him down will take a lot of agility.
3. Come out with lots of emotion: The biggest part of upsets is that usually the underdog comes out with a lot of emotion, but to the favorite, it's just another easy game. Akron will need all the emotion they can get to overcome the students at Beaver Stadium.
I don't think by any means that Akron will win or even get that close, but who knows. Crazier things have happened, but they will NEED to do these three things first.
Key Player Stat Predictions
QB Daryll Clark: 15-for-21, 220 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs
HB Evan Royster: 20 carries, 156 yards, 2 TDs
ILB Sean Lee: 10 tackles, 1 sack
QB Chris Jacquemain: 20-for-38, 229 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
WR Deryn Bowser: 6 REC, 70 yards, 1 TD
OLB Mike Thomas: 4 tackles, 0 sacks
Thoughts on the Game
Like I said earlier, Penn State has a 3-0 record against Akron all time. This week will be no different. Look for Beaver Stadium to be packed full, and screaming just as if they were playing Ohio State...almost.
Akron just does not have the talent to keep up with Penn State. Akron is probably the hardest non-conference opponent, and that is really saying something about their non-conference schedule.
This will merely be a nice experience game for the wide receivers and will get Daryll Clark, Evan Royster, Sean Lee, and the rest of the team warmed up. Don't expect any upsets at all here.
FINAL SCORE PREDICTION: Penn State 35, Akron 10