Penn State Preview: Buffalo

Penn State v. Idaho 79-7 (Photo by Steve Manuel)

The Football Letter/Steve Manuel

Each week, we’ll tell you what to expect, what to keep an eye on, and where and when you can catch the Nittany Lions on fall Saturdays this season.

 

Game details: No. 15/14 Penn State vs. Buffalo, 7:30 p.m., broadcast on FOX.

 

Venue: Beaver Stadium, where Penn State boasts an all-time record of 291-74. 

 

Weather forecast (via AccuWeather): High of 73 degrees, partly sunny and pleasant.

 

The line: Penn State – 28.5

 

Last week: Penn State pounded Idaho 79-7, while Buffalo defeated Robert Morris 38-10.

 

All-time series: Penn State leads 2-1.  

 

Last meeting (2015): Penn State won 27-14 at a soggy Beaver Stadium. This game also represented the beginning of the legend of Saquon Barkley, who pulled off the first of his many impressive hurdles over an unsuspecting Bulls defender. Barkley also scored a touchdown and ran for more than 100 yards in his first home game.

 

Throwback classic (1900): We’ll give this category to the Bulls, who defeated Penn State 10-0 at Buffalo. While William “Pop” Golden led the Nittany Lions, the Bulls played without a coach.

 

Overview: The one question everyone seems to be asking is “Just how good is this Penn State team?” There’s a ton of talent, and perhaps more experience than some fans think — thanks to guys redshirting and getting game reps last year — though can this year’s Nittany Lions compete for a Big Ten title? It’ll probably be another month before we have a clear answer, though they can continue to impress Saturday against another overmatched opponent. However, Buffalo is capable of making this competitive. The Bulls won a school-record 10 games last season, winning the MAC East Division. Buffalo rushed for 285 yards last week in its season-opening victory against Robert Morris, though Penn State’s impressive defensive front will (obviously) present a much, much bigger challenge. Still, it might be good for Penn State’s long-term interest if the team faces more pushback before facing Pitt and the Big Ten slate.

 

Penn State wins if: the Nittany Lions avoid mistakes. Penn State clearly has more talent, size, and strength, and it’s difficult seeing Buffalo sustain long drives the entire game. Don’t give the Bulls a short field and stay on schedule offensively, and Penn State should have a carousel of reserves see game time this Saturday, too.

 

Buffalo wins if: Penn State loses it. Even if the Bulls play a near-perfect game, chances are it still won’t be enough to pull off a historic upset. Making a few plays early will certainly help, and if this were a noon kickoff, maybe that could be more probably, though a primetime kick at Beaver Stadium will have all of Happy Valley rocking from the start.

 

Count on: another running back rotation. It worked so well the first week, so why change anything? Five backs combined for seven rushing touchdowns, and the offensive line should have its way against the Bulls. Chances are no one back will get more than 12-15 carries (Noah Cain’s nine attempts against Idaho were a team-high mark), so look for the most talented group of running backs in the country to once again share carries.

 

Keep an eye on: Jahan Dotson. The sophomore wide receiver was quiet last week, totaling just one catch for 13 yards. Dotson has plenty of speed and has earned the praise of coaches and teammates in the fall, and this could be the week when he begins to post numbers that match his big-time talent.

 

Trivia tidbit: Penn State has been ranked in the AP poll for the last 41 weeks — the fifth-longest streak in the country. It’s also the fifth-longest mark in program history.

 

Predictions

John Patishnock: Penn State 48, Buffalo 13 

 

Vince Lungaro: Penn State 50, Buffalo 13

Penn State preview: Idaho

Penn State v. PITT (Photo by Steve Manuel)

The Football Letter/Steve Manuel

Each week, we’ll tell you what to expect, what to keep an eye on, and where and when you can catch the Nittany Lions on fall Saturdays this season.

 

Game details: No. 15/14 Penn State vs. Idaho, 3:30 p.m., broadcast on BTN.

 

Venue: Beaver Stadium, where Penn State boasts an all-time record of 290-74. 

 

Weather forecast (via AccuWeather): High of 75 degrees, with sun and some clouds. 

 

The line: Penn State –36.5.

 

All-time series: First meeting. 

 

Overview: Penn State football returns to Happy Valley. Although there are many compelling storylines for this year’s Nittany Lions, the real story is that football is back. How will Sean Clifford fare in his first career start? What will the running back rotation look like? On the other side of the ball, just how dominant can the defense be this year? We’ll get a first look at a clearly overmatched opponent that shouldn’t push Penn State too much. Make the necessary plays and stay healthy. That’s this weekend’s game plan for the Nittany Lions. 

 

Penn State wins if: the Blue Buses find their way to the stadium.

 

Idaho wins if: We could try to concoct a maze of “this, then that,” scenarios, though we’ll give our readers the benefit of knowing better. Idaho, an FCS opponent, isn’t winning Saturday.

 

Count on: a feel-good vibe all day long. With a mid-afternoon kick and a gorgeous forecast, fans have plenty to look forward to: tailgating, watching (what should be) a comfortable win, and enjoying a wonderful weekend in Happy Valley. 

 

Keep an eye on: Will Levis. Even though Sean Clifford was named the starter (as expected), Saturday’s contest shouldn’t be close in the second half. Maybe James Franklin keeps Clifford in the majority of the game so he can build up game reps, though it wouldn’t be surprising if Levis leads at least a couple of drives. So, both quarterbacks might have a chance to show off their arm in the season opener.

 

Trivia tidbit: Penn State is one of only two teams in the country who have recorded at least 14 consecutive winning seasons, and also been ranked in the AP poll for the last 40-plus weeks. The other team? Oklahoma.

 

Predictions

John Patishnock: Penn State 45, Idaho 7 

 

Vincent Lungaro: Penn State 59, Idaho 10