Penn State Friday Tailgate 2009: Week 1 Preview

Josh RedcayContributor ISeptember 4, 2009

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01:  Quarterback Daryll Clark #17 of the Penn State Nittany Lions looks to pass against the USC Trojans during the 95th Rose Bowl Game presented by Citi on January 1, 2009 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

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

Penn State:

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