A Look At Penn State’s 2013 Schedule Part 1: Games 1-4

Bill O'Brien

After a successful season last season in which the Penn State Nittany Lions went 8-4 under first year coach Bill O’Brien. O’Brien would go onto win numerous Coach Of The Year awards for his effort and the season Penn State had under the unprecedented sanctions that were put upon the school in June of last year.

This year, the Nittany Lions look to build upon last season and come out strong this season unlike last where they lost to both Ohio (14-24) and Virginia (16-17) to start the season. They would then bounce back and win eight of their last ten only losing to Ohio State and Nebraska. So let’s take a look at the first four games of the Penn State Nittany Lions 2013 Schedule!

Aug. 31 vs Syracuse (At New Meadowlands Stadium)  Penn State vs Syracuse revives a old rivalry as the two teams will meet for the 72nd time in their history with Penn State leading the rivalry with a 42-23-5 record.

Syracuse Preview: The college football world will get to see what Penn State is made of very quickly this season as they have a pretty good out of conference test to start the season unlike years of past. Syracuse last season had a very good season (8-5) in their view which included an upset victory over Big East Champion and Sugar Bowl Champion Louisville. The QB duties will come to either John Kinder or Terrel Hunt this season after Syracuse lost their star quarterback Ryan Nassib to the NFL Draft. Syracuse will also be sporting new head coach Scott Shafer as he enters his 5th year with the program but first as coach as Doug Marrone left the Orange for Buffalo to take over as the Buffalo Bills head coach.

Penn State Preview: This game will also prove as the first game for either Tyler Ferguson or highly touted prospect Christian Hackenberg as they begin their Penn State careers. Ferguson is most likely going to be the starter as Christian Hackenberg will likely redshirt this season to save eligibility and possibly go after two national championships once the bowl ban is up for Penn State. Penn State’s offense looked revived last year after O’Brien took over and it looked much like the New England Patriots style offense and it worked well. Utilizing wide receiver Allen Robinson last season showed the country how deadly the offense could be after being a virtual unknown prior to last season. Ferguson or Hackenberg will also have tons of preparation and reps to come into this game and get a victory for the Nittany Lions.

Final Prediction: Though it might be a tough game in the first half for both teams as they start their season, Penn State ultimately has the defensive and offensive tools to turn this game into a win. If Bill O’Brien is able to do what he did with Matt McGloin last season with Ferguson or Hackenberg both QBs will turn into valuable pieces and weapons for the Penn State offense just now but also in the future. Penn State should pull away in the second half in this game while putting up big points in the 2nd half.  Penn State averaged to hold opponents to 19.1 points last season and should be no different this season as the Penn State defense has always been strong. Syracuse averaged giving up just over 24 points which could very well be more this season. Final Score: Penn State: 42 – Syracuse: 17

Sept. 7 vs Eastern Michigan Penn State will be meeting Eastern Michigan for the third time in their history. Penn State has won both meetings the last one coming in 2011 with a 34-6 victory.

Eastern Michigan Preview: Eastern Michigan is coming off a 2-10 season which was the 31st losing season in 38 total seasons in Division 1 football. Their leading passer Tyler Bentz who threw for 1,506 yards last season with 14 touchdowns and 8 interceptions last season returns. But their defense which gave up an average of 37 points last season will be the ultimate reason that Eastern Michigan University will have their 32nd losing season this year and will get blown out by the Penn State offense.

Penn State Preview: Coming off a victory against Syracuse, Penn State will continue their hopeful strong start to the season and have a field day against the Eastern Michigan defense and whoever the QB may be they will look to show off their skills in this game as they lead Penn State to an easy victory against Eastern Michigan to start the season off 2-0.

Final Prediction: Penn State’s offense will be way too much for the Eastern Michigan’s defense to handle as Penn State steam rolls the Eagles and go into their game against Central Florida 2-0. Final Score: Penn State: 58 – Eastern Michigan: 14

Sept. 14 vs Central Florida The September 14th meeting will be the 3rd time these teams have met in their history and the first since 2004 when Penn State won 37-13.

Central Florida Preview: The Knights are coming off a very strong and impressive season finishing 10-4 and 1st in the C-USA East Division . This season the Knights are playing in the newly formed and renamed American Athletic Conference (Big East). Returning starting quarterback Blake Bortles hopes to resemble last season’s numbers in which he put up 25 touchdowns and 7 interceptions while passing for 3,059 yards. Central Florida averaged 35.4 points a game last season while giving up an average of 22.1 both rank in the top 30 of college football. Central Florida should also be coming into this game 2-0 as they face Akron and Florida International to begin their season.

Penn State Preview: After coming off a strong victory against Eastern Michigan, they will face a challenging team in Central Florida. Bill O’Brien will have to keep his team mind in check and not to get to cocky against Central Florida to make sure there is no upset. Penn State’s offense might be a little bit more challenged against Central Florida but it will prove to be Central Florida’s first test. Penn State’s offense and defense should not be overwhelmed but might find difficulties at times against Central Florida.

Final Prediction: At times both teams will find difficulties in facing each others offense or defense. The Nittany Lions defense will be what determines this game. At times both will be challenged but the second half Penn State should pull away from Central Florida and eventually seal the deal early in the 4th quarter. Final Score: Penn State: 34 – Central Florida: 24

Sept. 21 vs Kent State Penn State will meet Kent State for the 4th time in their history, the last time coming in 2010 when Penn State shutout Kent State in 24-0 victory.

Kent State Preview: Kent State is coming off their best season in school history as well as their most wins in school history when they went 11-2 last season. Kent State will most likely be coming into this game 2-1 as they face Liberty, Bowling Green, and LSU. Their lone loss coming against LSU. Kent State’s leading passer Spencer Keith graduated and left for the NFL which leaves them with David Fisher who will be a senior. Kent State most potent weapon is their running game which ranked in the top 20 last year averaging 226 yards a game. They had two running backs last season with over 1000 rushing yards, Dri Archer and Josh Boyle both of them are returning to the team this season.

Penn State Preview: Penn State’s rush defense will have to be superb in this one to guarantee  a win. After giving up over 150 yards per game that number will need to dramatically increase to have defensive success against Kent State. The offense should have little or no problems against Kent State in the first half, second half may prove to be more challenging. Defense will definitely be the x-factor to this game for the Nittany Lions.

Final Prediction: In a game that will be most likely close down to the wire defense will be pivotal  for both teams in this matchup. Penn State’s offense will shine in the first half most likely as the second half will prove more difficult, Kent State will have running success possibly throughout the game which keeps the game close. If Penn State is able to hold Kent State to minimal success then they will be fine. Final Score: Penn State: 34 – Kent State: 24  

Thanks for checking out my first article here on TotalSportsLive.com! Parts 2 and 3 will be up with in the next two weeks once I return from Canada.- Dylan Callaghan ( @Dylancc_tgp)

Dylan Callaghan-Croley is a featured writer on thegreenpheed.com , Phielderschoice.com and totalsportslive.com . He will be going into his junior year during the 2013-2014 school year. He hopes to attend to be come a sports journalist if his baseball dreams don’t turn out right. You can follow him on Twitter at @Dylancc_TGP

[Photo: Sandra Dukes/USA TODAY Sports]

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