Penn State vs. Kent State Prediction, Game Preview


Penn State vs. Kent State prediction and game preview for the opening contest of the 2016 season. Find out who’s projected to win the matchup between the Nittany Lions and Golden Flashes.


Penn State vs. Kent State Game Preview

Game Details

When: Saturday, Sept. 3 – 3:30 p.m. ET
Where: Beaver Stadium, University Park, Penn.

Matchup to Watch

Trace McSorley vs. Kent State’s defense

With Christian Hackenberg off to the NFL, coach James Franklin is pinning Penn State’s hopes to making the leap in his first season on McSorley. The redshirt sophomore came on in relief of Hackenberg and threw a pair of touchdown passes in a loss to Georgia in the TaxSlayer Bowl, and was the clear favorite to be named this year’s starter.

McSorley’s first test isn’t easy. The Golden Flashes led the MAC with 32 sacks last season and opponents’ completion percentage at 53.8. Nate Holley returns and is considered one of the best defensive backs in the conference.

Offensive Edge

The good news for McSorley is that he’ll have plenty of help. Saquon Barkley rushed for 1,076 yards and seven touchdowns as a freshman last year, and Chris Goodwin and DaeSean Hamilton return to help form a solid receiving corps?

Kent State can only get better after averaging 13.1 points per game last season, worst in the nation.


Advantage:
Penn State

Defensive Edge

Defensive end Garrett Stickles is the Nittany Lions’ only returning starter on a line that loses All-American Carl Nassib. Linebacker Jason Cabinda returns after leading the team in tackles.


Advantage:
Kent State

Edge in Special Teams

Penn State will be counting on speedsters Tyler Davis, Joey Julius and Chris Gulla in the return game who can provide an edge.


Advantage:
Penn State

Coaching Edge

Franklin has gone 7-6 in each of his first two seasons, with two losses apiece to Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State. The Nittany Lions are hoping to compete with the big boys this year after dropping their final four games of 2015.

Paul Haynes might be on the hot seat if he can’t get the Golden Flashes going in his fourth season. The former Kent State defensive back has gone 9-26 since he arrived.


Advantage:
Penn State

Intangibles

Kent State has lost 15 of 18 road games under Haynes.


Advantage:
Penn State

Penn State vs. Kent State Prediction

McSorely and the Nittany Lions get off to a strong start with a 38-10 victory.


MORE: 2016 College Football Bowl Projections