Can the Nittany Lions round out their nonconference schedule by remaining unbeaten when they face Georgia State on Saturday night at Beaver Stadium? BWI staff makes its picks, here:
Nate Bauer - Blue White Illustrated Editor (2017 Record: 2-0)
Penn State's offense wasn't quite in sync Saturday during its 33-14 win against Pittsburgh, and the Nittany Lions still topped 30 points.
The output prompted one fan to query James Franklin as to whether or not the offensive line was performing well enough, and if some personnel changes might be in store as a result, during the Thursday radio show for the head coach. Though fans might have short enough memories to forget Penn State's recent struggles offensively, Franklin's answer demonstrated that he has not forgotten in the least.
"I would say this. It's kind of interesting after the last year and a half now, that we score 33 points and people are somewhat disappointed. I guess that's good in some ways," said Franklin. "I thought Trace missed some throws early on that he normally makes. I think our offensive line, considering I think for the season so far I think we may have one or two sacks the whole season so it's hard to critique our offensive line from that perspective. I do think we can take the next step and be really physical with intimidation blocks and pancake blocks and things like that and create a little bit more space. But everybody's game plan and Pitt's game plan was to stop the run and to stop Saquon. So for us, Saquon has been great and so have the receivers and the tight ends, but whoever is open is going to get an opportunity to make a play. Whatever the defense is trying to take away, we're talented enough to take advantage of what they're giving up. So I think we can get better, there's no doubt about it, but once again we've only given up two sacks. We've scored 30-or-more points in nine-straight games. I think we're doing pretty well."
Hosting Georgia State this weekend, I expect the Nittany Lions to efficiently and relatively easily reverse last week's "hiccup" as Penn State's explosive athletes resume the output that saw them hang 52 on Akron in the first week of the season.
And, if the Panthers' offensive struggles against Tennessee State are any indication, Penn State's defense should find similar success. Takeaways will present a major opportunity for the Nittany Lions and, combined with what should be a dominating performance on both sides of the trenches, Penn State will have no problem emerging at 3-0 before heading into Big Ten play next week.
Penn State 56
Georgia State 3
Tim Owen - Blue White Illustrated Assistant Editor (2017 Record: 2-0)
More than a five-touchdown favorite, Penn State hosts a Georgia State team Saturday that a year ago won only three times, but fought with grit each outing. Despite losing nine games, the average margin of victory was less than a touchdown and a reason for that was the way they limited opponents' big plays.
The question is, has that identity remained intact into this season? A few of the best starters are gone from last year and during Georgia State's debut last week they surrendered five plays that went for more than 20 yards, including two that went for 30-plus and one that went for over 50. There's no doubt that Penn State is going to be able to move the ball, and after scoring 14 points apiece in each of the season's two first quarters, I'm expecting it to do that early and often.
From there, especially once the second half starts, I can see this game mellowing out. Penn State will find success and move the ball how they want to, but I don't see this being a 60-minute free-for-all like many might think. My call is that the Nittany Lions take a three- or four-possession lead before halftime and then things slow down over the course of the final two quarters.
Penn State 42
Georgia State 7
Ryan Snyder - Blue White Illustrated Recruiting Analyst (2017 Record: 2-0)
Penn State will finish off its non-conference schedule with its easiest game of the season Saturday night, as the Nittany Lions will host Georgia State from the Sun Belt Conference. The Panthers just recently became a member of the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) in 2013. They won just one game in their first two seasons, but put together a 6-7 record in 2015 before a 3-9 season last year. Overall, the Panthers are 10-39 since making the move to the FBS division.
Throughout the football program’s history, Georgia State is 0-7 against teams from the power five conferences and those games haven’t been pretty. According to Phil Steele, the average score has been 45-11. When you add in the fact that this year’s team was upset by FCS program Tennessee State in their first game of the season - Georgia State was a 17-point favorite coming into that game - all signs point towards a big win for the Nittany Lions.
QB Tommy Stevens will see a lot of playing time come the second half. Some of the younger skill position players should also get plenty of reps in the third and fourth quarter, so I expect to see a lot of points for the Lions, as their second-string should have no issues moving the ball. That’ll come after Saquon Barkley, Trace McSorley and the first-string offense put up at least four or five touchdowns in the first half.
Penn State 55
Georgia State 7