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No. 14 Penn State vs. Central Michigan: Game Preview

Penn State returns home as they look to remain in the unbeaten column.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 10 Ohio at Penn State Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Nittany Lions look to remain unbeaten as nonconference play comes to a close.

Penn State (3-0) vs. Central Michigan (1-2)

Kickoff: Noon, Beaver Stadium, State College, PA

The Betting Line: Penn State -26 (Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See for details.)

TV: BTN, Noon - Matt Followill (play-by-play), Matt Millen (analyst), Matt McGloin (sideline)

Weather: A very plesant day with sunshine and highs in the upper 60s.


James Franklin:

PENN STATE RECORD: 70-34, 9th Year

OVERALL RECORD: 94-49, 12th Year


Jim McElwain:


OVERALL RECORD: 65-42, 11th Year




Central Michigan returns some serious talent in the backfield, starting with running back Lew Nichols. The sophomore led the entire nation in rush yards in 2021 with 1,848, and 2,186 total yards from scrimmage and 18 touchdowns. He did get off to a slow start to the season though, with 72 yards and a 2.8 yard per carry average against Oklahoma State, then dipping to just 20 rush yards and a 1.3 yard average againt South Alabama. He did bounce back with a big game, albeit gainst Bucknell, with 160 yards and a 5.5 yard average on Saturday. Nichols is the primary back, but Myles Bailey has also takes over at times and has done well on the season, averaging 5.5 yards per carry after three games.

Quarterback Daniel Richardson returns as well after a stellar year where he completed 60.4% of his passes with a 24:6 TD:INT ratio. He’s performed well thus far this season with an increased workload, most notably tossing for 424 yards and four touchdowns against the Oklahoma State defense. Richardson does not run often, and has a total of 0 rushing yards this season.

Richardson does a great job of spreading the ball out and keeping secondaries honest, with seven different passcatchers having six or more receptions after three games. Jalen McGaughy is a 6-4, 225 lb. target, leading the way with 11 catches for 200 yards and two scores. Tight end Joel Wilson also plays a big role, with 16 catches for 165 yards and two touchdowns.

The Central Michigan offensive line allowed five sacks in its first two games, but kept Richardson upright against Bucknell in Saturday.


Central Michigan’s defense has struggled mightily thus far. They gave up 531 yards and 58 points against Oklahoma State, following that up by yielding 502 yards and 38 points to South Alabama. It’s just never a great sign to give up more than 1,000 yards in the first two weeks of the season.

Defensive end Thomas Incoom has proved to be an effective passrusher, with three sacks in the first three games, as well as 4.5TFLs. Freshman De’Javion Stepney is looking to become a star on the defense, and already has five pass breakups and is second on the team with 16 tackles. As a defense, Central Michigan has gained five sacks and two interceptions.

Penn State will look to continue to hone its balanced attack. The run game has shown vast sings of improvement, and is finally taking the load off of Sean Clifford, who was often asked to carry the offense on his back when the ground game was unable to produce.


Central Michigan’s kicking game is just plain messy. Of the six field goal attempts on the season, only one was made. Punter Luke Elzinga is having a much better season though, averaging 45.3 yards per punt with a long of 65 yards.

Punter Barny Amor has been nothing short of fantiastic after transferring from Colgate, and could be a Ray Guy finalist. Kicker Jake Pinegar bounced back from a poor showing in week two by mailing both field goal attempts at Auburn, including a 48-yard attempt.


Penn State-49, Central Michigan-13

You can find quality talent throughout the Central Michigan roster, as the team should compete for another MAC title after winning nine games a year ago. However, the defense has been porous, and the offense just won’t have the horsepower to hang with Penn State for long.

Penn State will likely continue to emphasize its running game, as we’ve seen it come alive with the improvement of the offensive line and additions of Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen in the backfield.

Clifford finds Brenton Strange and Parker Washington in the end zone, while Kaytron Allen and Nicholas Singleton each contribute touchdowns as well. On defense, P.J. Mustipher leads the team with 3.5 TFLs, while Joey Porter Jr. and Ji’Ayir Brown each get an interception.

Hopefully, we witness the best-case scenario - Penn State jumps to an early lead, clears the benches in the second half, and leaves the game with everyone in full health as the first month of the season comes to a close.