Clay - PSU 41, Kent State 7
Kent State's offense is bad. Like, really bad. Penn State's defense is, well, nobody knows. But I think we find out on Saturday that the defense, buoyed by an offense that controls the clock and moves the ball at will on the ground, is perfectly serviceable. I expect Penn State's offense to have over 200 yards both through the air and on the ground and for the defense to force 3 turnovers, one each against the three quarterbacks Kent State. The saying goes "if you have two quarterbacks, you have none." What happens if you have three? JoeMo's offense should be fun, Brent Pry's defense should be stout, and the new additions should help the nekton unit to finally go over swimmingly. Big win, big fun, big time football back in the valley.
Chris Lucia - PSU 35, Kent State 14
My hopes are that this is the quintessential tune-up game: work out whatever issues are still present on the offensive line and with the new offensive system, and break in the almost-entirely-new defensive line. Knock off whatever rust remains, and cruise to an easy victory, in which the backups play the entire fourth quarter. My worry is that there are still a lot of unknowns for this team, and the score in the middle of the third quarter may be closer than many hope. Regardless, PSU pulls away for a solid win, but not without some gnashing of teeth for the fanbase, setting up a ton of anxiety heading into the Week 2 showdown in Pittsburgh.
Rowen - PSU 31, Kent State 13
Penn State will win the game, but it will be much too close for comfort throughout most of the first half. A new offense with a new QB will struggle at first, and there will be plays that leave fans shaking their heads and looking for John Donovan on the sidelines. However, the team with the better talent will prevail. A pair of scores in the 2nd quarter will allow fans to exhale during halftime before a dominant performance by the RB stable puts the game out of reach for Kent State. It still won't be a blowout, and that will concern some, but the team will move on to face Pittsburgh 1-0.
Chris Taylor - PSU 38, Kent State 13
It would be easy for me to go the obvious route and pick Penn State to win this game. That is why I am picking Penn State, it's easy. Most of us would not want to envision a world in which the Lions lose to Kent State only to face Temple, Pitt, and Michigan in the following three weeks. I'm not sure many of us could survive the six days between game one and two without some type of emotional breakdown if Penn State does not beat Kent State. There are scenarios that exist that could keep the score of this game close until early in the third quarter. That isn't going to happen. Penn State will win easily and the game will be in-hand before half-time. It will be the easiest victory since last Halloween when the Lions rolled past Illinois 39-0. Saquon Barkley will make a cameo appearance and watch most of the second-half from the sideline. Tommy Stevens will get some playing time late in the game, as this may be the only lopsided score until late October when the team takes on Purdue. The upside to the blowout will be that the younger players, who are listed on the depth chart as a second or third
Tim - PSU 34, Kent State 10
Given that Kent State returns all but one starter from what was a pretty decent defense last year, I'm not expecting a PSU team debuting its new-look offense that has yet to work out all of the kinks to light up the scoreboard for 50+ points, and that's quite alright. They will put together some pretty good-looking drives that you best not blink or you might miss them and next thing you know, PSU has another six points on the board, but they will also have some drives that will leave you scratching your head. Thankfully, Kent State's offense is [flails arms] a *disaster* and won't have the ability to make PSU pay should they get off to a slow start. That being said, a turnover deep in their own territory early on leads to a Kent State field goal before PSU finds its groove and cruises to a commanding three-score lead at the half. PSU picks up where they left off to start the second half, allowing the second and third string guys to see plenty of action, which will also lead to a garbage-time touchdown late in the game for the Golden Flashes. It sure will feel like old times again with PSU blowing out an overmatched MAC team in their season opener.
Penn State 34, Kent State 10
Pat - PSU 34, Kent State 7
While I expect to see Penn State win pretty comfortably, I don't believe we'll see the offense click on all cylinders. That's not to say it won't be a good performance from Joe Moorhead's side of the ball, but I think it takes them a while -- possibly until the third quarter -- to really get it going. As for the defensive side of the ball, I don't think Brent Pry will have to worry too much, as Kent State's offense shouldn't cause too much of a problem. The Golden Flash have a smaller interior offensive line, so I think we see the Kevin Givens hype continue to grow. Expect the Altoona native to spend a large majority of the afternoon in Kent State's backfield.
Eli - PSU 56, Kent State 17
A new offense, a new quarterback, a new offensive coordinator, a new offensive line coach, and a new defensive coordinator should give Penn State a few kinks to work out in the first game of the season. Don't be surprised if Kent State, a team returning the most starters in all of FBS this season, is able to keep the game close with Penn State. The Lions, however, work out a few of those kinks in the second half and run away with the game.
Garrett - PSU 38, Kent State 3
Kent State's offense is supposedly abysmal, they're starting a true freshman at quarterback, and it figures to be a pretty raucous crowd, as raucous as a crowd against Kent State can be, as the 3:30 Labor Day Weekend kick should help people not only show up, but get in the seats by kick. Their horrid offense, plus the crowd noise and a Penn State defense that should still be pretty good, gives me reason to believe the offense has great field position all day long. I expect things on the offensive side to be pretty vanilla, but still effective as Kent State won't have much film to work with and PSU is significantly more talented. Barkley has 100 yards by half, we rack up at least 450 yards of total offense, and people can leave early to watch the fantastic slate of primetime games.
Aaron - PSU 35, Kent State 3
Even if Penn State has a lot of trouble moving the ball in this game, the mismatch that is the Nittany Lion defense versus the Kent State offense should provide enough good field position and turnovers to put points on the board. That said, I don't think Penn State will have too much trouble moving the ball because the Flashes are more effective against the pass than against the run. Saquon Barkley should see the ball early and often in order to set up some play action that will make life easier for the offensive line and Trace McSorley. Hopefully, that leads to a bunch of points and an easy win.
Penn State 35, Kent State 3
Bscaff - who the heck knows
Kent State's the worst team on the schedule. Penn State is going to win. Let's move along.
What I'm looking for on Saturday is how the PSU offense performs apart from big plays - i.e., offensive plays that are not +10 yard runs or +20 yard passes. Last year PSU had 128 big plays on offense totaling 4,240 yards. On the other 701 offensive snaps, PSU gained just 292 yards - an average of 0.4 yards per play.
That's 14.4 inches. It's the margin of error for a Big Ten official spotting the football. It's less than the length of your forearm. That pathetic number was our average on 85% of our offensive snaps.
In other words, I'm keenly interested in whether we know what the hell we're trying to do out there. We're going to break some big plays, because Barkley will hurdle/spin, and/or because Godwin will win a jump ball and drag DBs, and/or because this is college football, not pros, and dudes blow assignments frequently. But in the absence of those three things, are we coordinated enough to average 2 yards? 2.5 yards? We haven't been for the last two years. Not even by half that amount. And if we still aren't in year three, then crap is gonna get ugly in a hurry.
What We're Doing Apart From Big Plays Scale
YPP - Rating
3.5+ We are unstoppable, doing whatever we want, going wherever we please
3.0 - 3.4 We are really good and should be celebrated
2.6 - 2.9 We're pretty good
2.0 - 2.5 We're mediocre
1.6 - 1.9 We're pretty bad
1.0 - 1.5 We are really bad and should be pilloried
<1.0 John Donovan
The last 5 years:
2011: 2.2ypp - we're mediocre, in large part because we wasted 4/10ths of our possessions by subbing in Rob Bolden at QB. But everyone knew what to do.
2012: 2.7ypp - we're pretty good, despite losing both of our proven skill position players 1 week before camp started.
2013: 2.1ypp - we're mediocre, in large part because we're playing a true freshman at QB in a pro-style system that relies upon his decision-making. But it's an investment that pays off by season's end.
2014: 0.7ypp - John Donovan
2015: 0.4ypp - John Donovan
2016: ????? - No idea. It really ought to be mediocre, at a minimum. But we'll know by the end of week 2.
Cari - PSU 31, Kent State 14
Like many who lived through the John Donovan era, I’ve been talking to everyone I can (even non-Penn Staters) about how excited I am to see this Joe Moorhead-installed offense. But I fear my excitement will have to be tempered somewhat, as Franklin and Co likely want Narduzzi to be a little surprised next week, so they’re probably going to keep things a little close to the vest—and the Golden Flashes should be overwhelmed either way...I doubt we’ll see the offensive explosion most fans (including me) are clamoring for. But Kent State, despite their above average defense, just doesn’t have the offensive firepower to overcome the talent in the blue and white, in Beaver Stadium, to keep it close.
Jared - PSU 41, Kent State 13
With Kent State’s long record of being a MAC cellar-dweller, this will hopefully be a game where the Nittany Lions can clear the benches and get all the younger guys some experience- because after this game, not much is guaranteed.
Penn State will get off to a slow start with a 7-0 lead at the end of the first quarter, causing some early concern before the offense finds its footing. Mike Gesicki gets back on track with a touchdown reception to put the Nittany Lions on the board first, and then Barkley breaks free for a 40-yard touchdown to open the second quarter, before McSorley connects with Chris Godwin and DaeSean Hamilton to give Penn State a comfortable lead.
On defense, Wartman-White comes storming out of the gate to led the team with 10 tackles, while Brandon Bell contributes a strip sack with John Reid and Christian Campbell both coming away with interceptions.