Welcome back to the BSD prediction roundtable. When we last left you, the whole staff thought we would be slaughtered by Wisconsin to end last season. Boy, are we stupid! Now we're back and ready to look into our crystal balls to look at the outcome of this year's game, starting with a Bortles-less (bortles) Central Florida squad.
Cari: I have literally no idea what to pick. I could see it going one of three ways: UCF winning close. UCF pulling away and winning big. Penn State winning close. So, because of that, and because I'll be there and we were a ZZ fumble away last year and this year there's no #Bortles, I've gotta go with the homer pick.
Penn State 24-21
Matt: Picking the first game of the year is always tough, and with so many unknowns this season, it's even harder. PSU has a new staff, and the guy that the offense ran through last year is in the NFL. On the other hand, the defense looks to be very strong. On the other sideline, UCF breaks in a new QB with bortles now throwing to Allen Robinson, and must replace Storm Johnson at running back. As we've seen, QB is so critical, and PSU has a decided advantage there with Hackenberg. I think PSU's experience at QB, and strength on defense, is the difference with the Lions going to 1-0.
Penn State 27-20
Devon: Neither team has anything remotely settled--but UCF has the bigger question marks, especially on offense. I'm not necessarily confident in the PSU offense, but at least it ought to be ahead of one breaking in a new QB, RB, and just as much on the offensive line. It took a tremendouos performance from Bortles for the Knights to beat Penn State last year, but this time it's only the Lions who boast one of the best quarterbacks in the country. The growing pains may loom large, but I have faith that James Franklin will have his team ready to go from the opening kick. I'll take Penn State, 24-20 in a game that only really tightens up late.
Penn State 24-20
Daniel my brother, you are, bolder than me.
Do you still feel the same (as last year)?
When you called for UCF to pull the win?
Your (Irish Domer) eyes have died.
But you see more than I (because of my intense homer gaze).
Dan-yule you're a starrrrrrrr,
Please call for a PSU win-in-in-in-in.
Penn State 24-20
Adam: I have no idea what to think about this game, much like I have no idea what to think of this team or this season. On one hand, a top-10 UCF squad beat us by 3 last year at home. And, as the mothership says:
UCF has to replace a quarterback who's likely to go in the top 10 of the NFL Draft. An 1,100-yard rusher, three all-conference offensive linemen, and a strong defensive tackle are also gone. Plus, the Knights were 7-1 in one-possession games a year ago, which is unsustainable. UCF has been at one extreme or the other in close games recently, and that could very easily skew in the other direction with a new quarterback.
In particular, that quarterback is a freshman who is not Christian Hackenberg, Johnny Manziel, or Jameis Winston.
On the other hand, our offensive line. And no Allen Robinson.
This is somewhat troubling. Also somewhat troubling (but still very cool) is the fact that the game is in Ireland, and both teams have to adjust to jet lag, no home crowd, and an entirely different environment than anywhere these teams have played before. My prediction? Guaranteed slopfest. My gut tells me our defense will be light years ahead of where it was early last year, and that the offense will do just enough to come back 1-0.
Penn State 20-13
Middle Nick: I think Penn State's defense will start slow and let UCF jump out to a 10 point lead in the first half, but they'll buckle down in the second half. A redshirt freshman is still a freshman, and Pete DiNovo is as redshirt freshman as they come. I expect the defensive line to have a big game under the tutelage of Coach Chaos, while Jordan Lucas grabs a pick to seal the deal late in the contest. On offense, Hackenberg throws a lot of screens and quick passes while Belton and Zwinak go to work on the ground. In the middle of the second half, Hackenberg will hit DaeSean Hamilton on a deep play action pass to take a lead that won't be relinquished.
Penn State 31-24
Tim A.: As we all know by now, PSU has the green O-line, UCF has the green quarterback. I personally think that latter part could prove to be a little more problematic in the end. I firmly believe that you will see vastly improved defensive and special teams units from game one of this season, with Bob Shoop employing an aggressive (but easier to understand) defense that the players seem to be grasping quickly, and with Charlie Huff bringing that Prefontaine mentality to the return game. I expect a low-scoring contest here as both teams will be working out the kinks, but I like PSU to pull out a tight one in the end, with the difference maker being either a pick-six, blocked punt, or a punt return for a touchdown.
Penn State 23-17
Chad: As exciting and glamourous as Christian Hackenberg is, Penn State will have to be a run-first team early in the season as the offensive line gels. So I'm expecting James Franklin to keep the gameplan simple by utilizing all three of the talented rushers at his disposal. UCF's secondary is as experienced a unit as you'll find in major college football, and combined with this game's circumstances I expect to see at least 40 rushing attempts, and ideally that will set up some play-action opportunities for Hack. I like Penn State in this completely arbitrary scenario I've just described. Enjoy your Guinness, everyone.
Penn State 24-17
New Nick: Run game heavy for Penn State. Hackenberg looks good, efficient, but no TDs. $am Ficken carries us with 3 FGs to victory.
Penn State 23-20
Dan: I was tarred and feathered for picking UCF to beat Penn State last year, but the writing was on the wall with Bortles and Storm Johnson waiting to get their hands on our still-green defense. This year, the UCF line is bringing in three new starters and all the skill position talent is on the outside, leaving redshirt freshman Pete DiNovo to try and get them the ball in his first career start. On the defensive side of the ball, I believe they return 10 starters which certainly gives me pause in picking Penn State this week considering their inexperience on the offensive line. I certainly wouldn't be surprised if UCF had our number for a second straight year. However, give me the excitement of James Franklin coupled with a hard-hitting defensive effort as the Nittany Lions gain redemption for last year's defeat in Beaver Stadium.
Penn State 24-17
FROM THE PREVIEW:
Jared: Penn State 27-24
FROM THE PODCAST:
Bill: UCF 21-17