Saturday, October 24, 2015
M&T Bank Stadium
3:30pm (Eastern Time)
Kyle Carter did not make the trip to Ohio State last week, so only time will tell whether he is available this Saturday. Other than that, Penn State seems to be at full strength (minus Nyeem Wartman-White, who is out for the season). Maryland also has some players out for the season, but none that I know of who are questionable for this game.
Mayland is a program in disarray, having just fired head coach Randy Edsall before the bye week. Offensive Coordinator Mike Locksley has been named the interim head coach, which makes Saturday's game a matchup of two head coaches who worked together as assistant coaches in Maryland for years. Both coaches have a reputation for being excellent recruiters, and both have had another head coaching gig previously: James Franklin helped build Vanderbilt into an SEC contender, while Locksley had a brief and unsuccessful stint as the head coach of New Mexico.
Penn State Defense vs. Perry Hills (QB): Hills isn't much of a passer (47% completion rate), but he is a heck of a runner. He is currently averaging over 8 yards per carry, having gained 289 yards through three games this season. Playing against the mobile J.T. Barrett game this Penn State defense fits last week, but luckily Hills doesn't have the same arm talent to beat a defense through the air. Look for Shoop's defense to keep a spy on Hills and bring a safety or cornerback underneath to help contain the run.
Christian Hackenberg vs. Maryland Pass Defense: Maryland's pass defense isn't great, so this could be a big day for Hackenberg. Yannick Ngakoue is Maryland's sack leader with 6.5, which is pretty good. However, even though the Terps average 3.3 sacks per game as a team, opposing quarterbacks have an average quarterback rating of 141.9 (A.K.A., "Stellar"). As long as Hack's knee is healed up from the Ohio State game, look for him to take out some serious frustration on Saturday.
I think Penn State wins big in this game. Lots of injured players have been making it back in recent weeks, and the Nittany Lions have a lot to prove after a decidedly unimpressive performance against our biggest rival. Franklin won't want to lost against his former co-worker, either. Sometimes losing a head coach can galvanize a team; I don't see that happening for Maryland. This is not a good team, and Locksley's track record as a head coach doesn't inspire confidence. I think Hackenberg is able to find DaeSean Hamilton and Chris Godwin deep for some big gains, and Saquon Barkley and Akeel Lynch both stretch their legs. Maryland may find some success running the ball, but this PSU defense has too much pride to let them run wild.
Penn State 31, Maryland 17