When: Saturday, September 16th, 2017, 7:30 PM on BTN
Where: Beaver Stadium, University Park, Pennsylvania
For the second week in a row Penn State will take on the Panthers inside Beaver Stadium, but this week the Panthers are from Georgia. Georgia State will have the opportunity to face the Nittany Lions under the lights—a rare occasion for a Group of 5 team. While a few critics are complaining about the start time, I give you this: Not every family can afford primetime BIG matchups, this game gives these fans a chance to see Beaver Stadium at night—a must for all fanatics.
Penn State comes into this game looking to improve their execution on offense. Leaning on Heisman hopeful, Saquon Barkley, is not an efficient option once Big Ten play starts. In order for the offense to fire on all cylinders, captain, Trace McSorley has to connect with his receivers down the field. Last week against Pitt, the gunslinger left a handful of throws on the field.
For Georgia State, they are 37-point underdogs, not many people are giving them a chance. However, during last year’s season, the Panthers, losing 23-17, scared Wisconsin. In order for them to do it again, they will have to play a flawless game, a tough task against the No.5 team in the country.
Penn State Offense vs. Georgia State Defense
Written by Brandon Musso
In Saturday’s game against Pitt, the Penn State offense played good enough to win but they were just not all there. Aside from Saquon Barkley and Mike Gesicki, the offense just wasn’t clicking at its normal high-powered nature. Trace McSorley was visibly off, almost like he was still shaking off the cobwebs from the offseason. He ended up throwing for 164 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception but his accuracy just wasn’t there as he missed more than a few receivers. This week’s game against Georgia St. should be used by McSorley to get back on track as he sees a lower caliber defense.
Standing in offenses way is a Georgia St. defense that struggled to finds it way last season. They closed out their season with a loss to Idaho in which they surrendered 37 points. The large amount of points allowed was a common theme last year. Given that they allowed those points against lower caliber teams in the Sun Belt Conference, this No. 5 Penn State team and their high powered offense should have no problem putting points up on the scoreboard.
The Georgia St. line-backing core lost their leading tackler, Alonso McGee, to graduation last year but they do return Michael Shaw who made 41 tackles including a team leading 12 tackles-for-loss and three sacks last season. Expect Penn State to game plan away from him to limit his backfield disruption. In the secondary, cornerbacks Chandon Sullivan, Jerome Smith, and B.J. Clay all grabbed three interceptions each last year and have returned this season. The trio offers a great deal of experience in the secondary and will be looking to take advantage of a seemingly rusty, inaccurate McSorley.
Penn State Defense vs. Georgia State Offense
The Penn State defense has been playing at a high level all season long. Thru two games, the Nittany Lions have surrendered only a single touchdown. More importantly, the defense has done a good job at taking away the ball and getting after the quarterback. The Wild Dogs have sacked the passer eight times this season. The added pressure has resulted in four turnovers in two games.
Look for this team to be aggressive when facing senior quarterback, Conner Manning. Manning had over 2600 yards passing last year, but threw 13 interceptions to his 16 TDs. Even with Manning’s experience, the Panthers could struggle to run the ball against a stout front. Taz Bateman had 12 carries against Tennessee State, for 27 yards--the Panthers only ran for 49 total yards. That isn’t going to cut it against Penn State, at night, in Beaver Stadium.
Expect the Panthers to try trick plays, shovel passes, and anything else they can do to grab an edge. Still, at the end of the day, the pressure from the defensive line will most likely be too much for Georgia State.
Cory V Lestochi (2-0) Prediction:
Saquon Barkley finally takes a kick back for a touchdown, adding one more accolade to his Heisman resume. McSorley redeems himself from last week’s poor showing and reenters himself as the conference’s best quarterback. The defense will try to pitch a shutout, but Georgia State is able to get on the board. Expect Tommy Stevens to come into the game slightly earlier than Akron.
Penn State: 63
Georgia State: 3
Brandon Musso (2-0) Prediction:
Saturday is an odd night game against a lower level FBS team but that doesn’t diminish its importance. No. 5 Penn State is looking to improve to 3-0 and continue its success while Georgia State is going to give their best in their bid for a big upset. Last year, they played a very good game on the road against Wisconsin and ended up losing by a score of just 23-17. However, the 7:30 night game in Beaver Stadium should be plenty of motivation for the Penn State to get back on track after a lackluster performance against Pitt last week. I think Penn State comes out ready and plays a clean game where they put up some big points against the other Panthers.
Penn State: 48
Georgia State: 3