The Nittany Lions welcome an FCS opponent as they look to ruin Delaware’s first trip to State College.
(#7)Penn State (1-0) vs. Delaware (1-0)
Kickoff: Noon, Beaver Stadium, State College, PA
TV: Peacock, Noon (Please note the game will be aired on Peacock only and will not simultaneously air on NBC) - Brendan Burke (play-by-play), Michael Robinson (analyst), Zora Stephenson (sideline)
Weather: A high of 77 degrees in the afternoon with slight chance of rain throughout the day.
PENN STATE RECORD: 79-36, 10th Year
OVERALL RECORD: 103-51, 13th Year
VS. DELAWARE: 0-0
DELAWARE RECORD: 9-5, 2nd Year
OVERALL RECORD: Same
VS. PENN STATE: 0-0
This will be the first meeting between Penn State and Delaware on the gridiron...Delaware is the only FCS opponent on the 2023 schedule, with West Virginia and UMASS being the other non-conference opponents...Penn State is 116-79-12 against current FCS opponents...this will be the first Penn State game aired exclusively on Peacock...the Nittany Lions will be looking to score at least 30 points for the ninth consecutive game.
DELAWARE OFFENSE VS. PENN STATE DEFENSE
The Blue Hens are breaking in a new starting quarterback, who like Drew Allar, got off to a hot start in week one. Ryan O’Conner completed 24 of 38 attempts for 346 yards against Stony Brook. However, he did toss two inteceptions which could spell trouble against a Nittany Lions defense that regularly creates turnovers.
Running back Marcus Yarns had a Nicholas Singleton-esque stat line of 107 rushing yards and two scores on just 11 carries. The senior contributed 680 yards and five touchdowns in 2022. Former Sam Houston State wideout Chandler Harvin is shaping up to be the Blue Hens’ top receiver, and like West Virginia’s starting receivers, will look to use his big frame at 6-2, 200 lbs. Harvin had a 100 yard day with five catches against Stony Brook. Kym Wimberly is a valuable option in the slot after transferring from Harvard, where he led the Crimson in catches and was second-team All-Ivy in 2022.
It’s no secret that Manny Diaz likes to have a deep rotation of fresh players ready to create chaos, so look for some fresher faces to appear early and often. True freshman linebacker Tony Rojos has received non-stop praise since stepping on campus, and should get some valuable experience as the staff looks to get him more involved in the defense as the season carries on. Defensive tackle Jordan van den Berg also made plays throughout camp, and the additional experience could help him carve out a larger role in the trenches.
The biggest question could be whether or not star linebacker Abdul Carter sees the field on Saturday after being charged with a misdemeanor following an on-campus incident on Aug. 8. Franklin has mentioned that the staff was aware of the incident and have been dealing with it privately, so Carter may have already served whatever punishment the staff saw fit for the minor transgression.
PENN STATE OFFENSE VS. DELAWARE DEFENSE
All eyes will be on Drew Allar as the sophomore quarterback crushed the lofty expectations in his first start on Saturday. Expect some fireworks early, as Penn State is likely to fine tune its passing game with a new batch of receivers joining Allar, and to build a lead with the idea to clear the benches after halftime.
Allar showed a strong rapport with the receiving corps on Saturday, completing passes to eight different targets. As expected, KeAndre Lambert Smith and Tre Wallace lead the way with a combined 15 catches for 195 yards and two scores (both by Lambert-Smith).
No Penn State tight end caught a pass in week one, with Theo Johnson the only one to receive a target. This could be strategic as the coaches hold off on getting the tight ends until the competition level heats up as they get deeper into conference play.
The biggest question mark surrounding the Nittany Lions after week one revolves around the kicker. Sander Sahaydak’s first start did not go smoothly as he missed both of his short field goal attempts of 34 and 38 yards. He was replaced by walk-on Alex Felkins, who connected on a 25-yard field goal and all three extra point attempts. The job may now be Felkins to lose, although Franklin declined to name a starter for week two.
New starting punter Riley Thompson averaged just 37.5 yards on his two punts, with his first attempt going off the side of his foot for just 29 yards. He did far better on his second attempt, which went for 46 yards and was in line with his strong 45.6 average from 2022 when he punted for Florida Atlantic.
Penn State-56, Delaware-7
Let’s be clear — this is an early season “warm-up” game for Penn State in between an opener against a Big 12 team and the start of conference play next week at Illinois. No disrespect towards Delaware, who have found success at the FCS level and won a national championship this century. These are just two different types of programs, and should not create a competitive match-up.
My inkling is that Penn State starts off pass-heavy in the first half. This should help Allar and some of the newer receivers to further get on the same page. It should also help the Nittany Lions build a big lead early and get the back-ups in for the second half. I’ll gladly take Allar throwing the ball to Penn State’s fourth-best receiver covered by Delaware’s fourth-best defensive back on the field.
Tre Wallace gets his first touchdown of the season, as Liam Clifford is on the receiving end of one of Allar’s touchdown tosses as well. On defense, Adissa Isaac contributes a pair of sacks and Curtis Jacobs helps put things away with a pick-six.