Penn State has yet to put it together completely and the next two weeks should be the chance to iron out all the details before the White Out against Ohio State. We’ll see lots of freshman and giving the depth chart a run to see who can and can’t contribute when it becomes crunch time. Kent State runs tempo, so it would be better to get it under control prior to halftime, which has been an issue in the first two games.
Penn State 48, Kent State 17
Going to make this short and sweet. Penn State a lot, Kent State a little. Penn State up 35+ at halftime and Sean Clifford and the rest of the freshman play a ton in the second half.
Penn State 54, Kent State 10
Penn State is very good. Kent State is very bad. This one will be over in a hurry on Saturday, and then we can all spend the rest of our Saturday enjoying beverages and watching football.
Trace will account for at least four touchdowns, Miles Sanders goes over 100 rushing yards again, and Juwan Johnson puts worries about his struggles to rest. The DL will have another big day, too, and Micah Parsons gets his first college sack.
Penn State 52, Kent State 7
My only worry about this game is me having to maybe sit in the rain.
Penn State 40, Kent State 9
Poor Kent State.
Penn State 49, Kent State 6
I’m still concerned about our defense, but we get two tune up games to continue to straighten things out. Many backups get some quality reps this week.
Penn State 56, Kent State 7
If last week’s second-half defense is anything close to being for real, the Lions will keep Kent State out of the end zone.
Penn State 49, Kent State 3
Up tempo offenses do concern me a little, and the defense is still shaky. That said, the offense is pretty good.
Penn State 48, Kent State 10
Kent State plays D1A football exclusively because Penn State will hand their AD a $500,000 check immediately after their kids absorb a severe beating on Saturday.
Woody Barrett and Justin Rankin could be a handful for the first couple of drives, but with no army to support them and a defense that’s not going to slow down PSU’s offense, this should (hopefully) get ugly fast for the Golden Flashes.
Penn State 49, Kent State 10
What a difference a beatdown of an historical rival, in their stadium in crappy weather, will make.
A week ago, many Penn Staters were lamenting the close call against App State, predicting barely a bowl game for the 2018 Nittany Lions. But as a famous coach once opined, a team makes the most improvement between weeks one and two - and the Lions showed that to a T last week in Heinz Field, where they bent but didn’t break in the first half, and absolutely demolished their opponent in the second. It was an impressive performance, worthy of jumping back up a few places in the polls.
The next two weeks will see the Lions face opponents who themselves squared off the first week of the season; Kent State got the short end of that stick, and they’ll get first crack at PSU. Even though they have some talent returning, they aren’t the Kent State that Darrell Hazell coached up enough to get a gig at Purdue. After KSU’s successor, Paul Haynes, oversaw more of a regression to the mean, this past year the Golden Flashes hired former Syracuse and Bowling Green Offensive Coordinator Sean Lewis, whose offenses are incredibly exciting and innovative. He hasn’t had enough time to implement everything he’d like, so the Flashes won’t be near where they’ll eventually get under him on offense, but they’re on the right track. This should be a decent test for the young Penn State defense.
PLAYER(S) ON THE SPOT: Juwan Johnson and DeAndre Thompkins. Thompkins has made incredible strides in the punt return department; he’s one of the best in a bit for the Lions, as evidenced by his touchdown against Pitt. But in the wide receiver spot, he and Johnson both seem to have a case of the dropsies in 2018; so much so that Brandon Polk now has a shot at one of the starting roles. If they can’t come down with more of Trace McSorley’s well-thrown passes, they both may be passed on the depth chart by true freshmen Justin Shorter and Jahan Dotson, both incredibly talented and waiting in the wings.
DON’T BE SURPRISED IF … We don’t see backup QB/LION Tommy Stevens again. He’s a weapon waiting to be unleashed - but there’s no point in tipping our hand before the primetime matchup against Ohio State. He’ll probably get a few snaps at Illinois, but nothing too imaginative.
PREDICTION: This week will likely be one of the easiest of the season, and don’t expect James Franklin and co to mix up the playbook more than necessary. The offensive line has stepped up so far this season, so they should be trying to ram it down KSU’s throat --and it should work gangbusters.
Penn State 59, Kent State 13 (with PSU’s field goal in the first quarter, making fans nervous that the offense will stall out. It won’t.)
Kent State has the youngest coach in the nation, led by 31-year old Sean Lewis. It’s only been two games, but he seems to have the Flashes on the right track, which is not easy considering just how historically awful the Kent State program has been — the Flashes have never won a bowl game, and just have two appearances in its long history. Kent State nearly pulled off an upset of Illinois in week one, and then followed it up with a 54-14 beatdown of Howard. While it’s easy to say “it’s only Howard,” Kent State is a program that regularly fails to measure up against the bottom of the MAC, as well as the likes of Youngstown State and other FCS foes.
With that being said, if this game remains close into the half, something has gone terribly wrong for the Nittany Lions. This is the only nonconference game where they should easily outclass the team on the other side of the field.
KJ Hamler continues his streak by catching a touchdown for the third consecutive week, while Pat Freiermuth gets his first career touchdown catch. Miles Sanders racks up 130 rushing yards and a touchdown of his own, while Mark Allen finds the end zone twice- once on the ground and once through the air.
On defense, Shaka Toney continues his rise with a two-sack performance, Cam Brown contributes a ten-tackle performance and Tariq Castro Fields picks off a pass to help set up an early score.
Penn State 56, Kent State 10