The Nittany Lions return home for the first time since the announcement of the complete reduction of the NCAA's on-the-field sanctions to take on the winless Massachusetts Minutemen. It may not be the biggest opponent, but hopefully a renewed excitement for this season, with the possibility of postseason play once again a factor, will allow for every seat in Beaver Stadium to be filled. But, probably not.
Onto the predictions, which are lacking this week because our staff must be way too excited to type!
bscaff: There are two things on the menu board I'd like to purchase this week: 1) a murderously efficient redzone offense that stakes PSU to a big early lead, and crushes UMass's will; and 2) a second half rush offense that tosses six feet of dirt on the Minutemen.
Penn State 38-17
Matt: Through 3 games, we haven't exactly seen a precision offense firing on all cylinders. Sure, there have been glimpses, but by in large, it's been a struggle on that side of the ball. Fortunately they've been very good when needed, and there's an excellent defense to keep them in games. UMass is by far the worst opponent faced, and while I expect things to look a little better given the talent level of the opposition, it still won't be a thing of beauty at times. The running game looks better, Hack doesn't take as many hits, and the defensive starters pitch a shut out, only to see it vanish late.
Penn State 34-7
Tim A: Look for the defense to keep a MAC opponent out of the end zone for the second time this season. Also, did you know that PSU's defense hasn't given up a second half touchdown since the season opener against UCF? Don't look for that streak to end this weekend. While the UMass offense has been able to score 30+ points in their last couple of games, this PSU D will be a step up from say, Vanderbilt or Colorado. PSU's offense on the other hand, while they will have their struggles at times, look for them to finish a couple more red zone drives with six points (as opposed to three) this week, as the ground game starts to gain more traction along with Hack being Hack (another 300+ yard passing performance). All in all, this should end up being the least nerve-wracking game of the 2014 season. Enjoy.
Penn State 34-3
Nick P: UMass is not a good team. Plain and simple. The crux of their defense is their secondary, so I expect a lot of work for Belton, Zwinak, and Lynch, which will be great for them and for the offensive line's development. Going up against the Minutemen could be the confidence boost that Smith, Nelson, and company need to mentally prepare themselves for the rest of the Big Ten slate. Knowing this offense though, there will still be plenty of work for Christian Hackenberg. I expect another 300 for Hack, and I think Kyle Carter has a big day in the middle of the field. I think Belton, ZZ, and Maple combine for 250 yards on the ground, and Jordan Lucas picks up his first interception of the season. Last but not least, backup QB DJ Crook will throw garbage time TD into the hands of Saeed Blacknall, delighting Rutgers fans everywhere.
Penn State 44-13
Dan: The hope is that this game can be put away early so that the team can work on things throughout, including the running game which will need serious work before the beginning of the meat of Big Ten season starting next week. Expect at least one one-hundred-yard rusher and lots of sweet D.J. Crook action in the fourth quarter. UMass will find the endzone against the second team late, but it will not be close.
Penn State 41-10
FROM THE PODCAST:
Bill: Penn State 31-3
Adam: Penn State 40-7
Cari: (Probably Penn State big. I haven't gotten a chance to listen to the podcast and I never got confirmation of her score.)
FROM THE PREVIEW:
Jared: Penn State 31-13