Another Friday has come around which means the brains of Black Shoe Diaries have assembled once again to bring you their predictions for this week's matchup with Navy. Even after an 0-2 start, the staff is confident that things will turn around this week and the Nittany Lions will pick up their first victory of the season.
Ben: Now there's another thing I want the offense to remember. I don't want to get any messages saying that we are punting. We're not punting anything, we'll let the Squids do that. We are advancing constantly, and we're not interested in punting anything except the enemy. We're going to hold onto him by the nose, and we're going to kick him in the ass. We're going to kick the hell out of him all the time, and we're going to go through him like crap through a goose.
Thirty years from now when you're sitting around your fireside with your grandson on your knee, and he asks you, 'What did you do in the great Navy-puke game of 2012?' You won't have to say, 'Well, I punted to their 38 yard line.' Alright now, you sons of bitches, you know how I feel.
Penn State by 17.
Nick: When playing Navy, it's all about discipline. On defense, you have make sure you maintain your gap assignments and not get lulled to sleep in coverage. On offense, for this team, you need to end drives with touchdowns. Don't be surprised to see just a handful of drives between both teams for the entire game. Ultimately, after a rough start Penn State should have enough to pull out their first win.
Penn State 20 - Navy 13
Adam: With no podcast this week due to Jeff's bro-ings on about town in State College, you jokers are stuck with my prediction here! Navy had a rough go of it two weeks ago against Notre Dame in Dublin. The offense did next to nothing against a Brian Kelly defense and the defense gave up 50 points. Not exactly the numbers that 10-win teams are made of.
It seems like Navy's headed for a down year, but the Midshipmen have had two weeks to let their frustration subside, look at the film from opening day, and see what they can do better. They will play better in Beaver Stadium and have a better showing against a Penn State offense that is still getting its legs underneath itself.
Still, Penn State is a better, deeper (at least in terms of FBS-level talent) football team. They are only a few plays from sitting at 2-0 instead of 0-2. The offense should perform better this week against a Navy defense that will be outmatched. It gets yards; now it needs to get points. It needs to establish a more consistent running attack - 2.9 yard per carry is not going to do it. Once that happens, the big play down the field will open up a bit more. We cannot consistently rely on workman-like 15 play drives. Sometimes you just need to make a play. They'll make it this week.
The defense will struggle with the triple option for a full quarter. I expect them to overpursue and give up some chunks of yardage on the ground early, much as they are prone to do against a spread option team like Northwestern. By the second quarter, the unit will settle down, be reminded that they have to play assignment football and tackle well.
All told, this should be Penn State's first win of the year unless something goes dramatically wrong.
Penn State 30 - Navy 13
Jared: Everyone seems to be going into this game assuming the Nittany Lions will come away with their first win of the season. This makes me incredibly nervous. Navy is no Alabama, but they are far from an automatic win. With that being said, I do expect to see Penn State come away with the 'W' because of the way they *should* match-up against the Navy offense as well as the improvements I saw on both sides of the ball last week (yes, there was a lot of improvement that went unnoticed because of the heartbreaking loss). Thanks to Navy's lack of a passing game, Penn State will be able to stack the box while the secondary will get to focus on run support instead of becoming lost in coverage schemes. The offense will continue to improve with each week, and things will click more so than what we've seen thus far. They find the end zone after a few long drives, and Sam Ficken goes 3/3 on field goals, including a 49-yarder right before halftime that washes away the bad juju (a la Kevin Kelly vs. Iowa in 2007) from last week.
Penn State 30 - Navy 14
Jeff: I've been on campus for the past three days, and the mood here is upbeat, excited, and ready for some football (as a slight aside, I wish I could come back and teach a course on resumes and Career Fair dress/etiquette...COME ON, MAN). I expect the "end of summer, one last tanktop" mood to carry through the weekend, as the Midshipmen come to town.
Sure, a man in uniform is an instant swoon for many young ladies; but these skimmers and bubbleheads have nothing on the likes of Bill Belton, Mike Zordich, and Matt "Every Woman's Dream" McGloin.
Penn State 6 (three safeties, certainly no field goals), Navy 3.
Devon: Through two weeks, it looks like Ted Roof's Penn State's defense is only a mild twist on the one we saw from so many years under Tom Bradley: Penn State is stout against the run, and completely lost against the pass. It sure looks like good matchup, then, for this D to go against a triple-option O that's averse to passing, right?
Well, maybe not. Not "Penn State shouldn't be good against the option," because it should, but looking back at Navy's season opener against Notre Dame, we saw a Midshipmen offense that threw the ball WAY more than you'd expect. Okay, part of that was the fact that they were getting blown out, and lost 50-10, but QB Trey Miller had a pretty awesome day, going 14 of 19 for 192 yards. And that's against a Notre Dame defense which, last I checked, didn't have defensive backs who ran around like chicken with their heads cut off any time there's a third and long.
But anyway, Penn State should still win this game relatively easily. The Lions made huge improvements in all facets of the game between weeks one and two, and really, could just as easily be 2-0 as 0-2. Then again, the way those matchups hinged on just weird, fluky, plays--a tipped should-be interception goes for a TD the other way, a blocked extra point is the cherry on top of a 1-for-5 kicking day--Mark Emmert may have somehow got the football gods on his side. But providing nothing weird happens, Penn State should still win by 2 touchdowns, even with a depleted running back corps.
Penn State 30 - Navy 16
Tim: I hate using such bullshit lines but this is one of the better 0-2 teams I've seen in football this year. As others have pointed out, a fluky play and some porous kicking have been a huge difference thus far. Lost in all the heartbreak was a team that looked very stout against the run and was able to move the ball downfield consistently (inability to punch it in the red zone notwithstanding). Surely, they have to put it all together and get that elusive W" soon, right?
Penn State 27 - Navy 13
Dan: Honestly, I think Penn State should win, but I also thought Penn State should have won their first two games as well. My thought process:
It seems as though we'll be starting our third different running back in as many games and we can't kick field goals, but Allen Robinson is awesome, but Ted Roof was bad and then Ted Roof was good but still he was kind of bad but Navy runs a lot and we're good against the run, but they run the triple option and that's tough and now they pass a little more and we don't do well against the pass and I'm kinda hungry, what's in the fridge?? and Matt McGloin's elbow is still probably sore and these guys are fired up and they need to win at some point and luck has to be on their side and fight the power but we've lost on fluky plays the past two weeks and Navy had an extra week to prepare for us and...
I just, I just don't know.
Penn State 21 - Navy 20