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Penn State Football Opponent Preview: San Diego State Not Phased By Travel Heavy Schedule

by on July 21, 2015 6:45 AM

Penn State football players will begin training camp in a few weeks and the 2015 season opener will follow just 46 days from now.

We're previewing all of the opponents the Nittany Lions will face this year in what promises to be an interesting campaign -- the second year of the James Franklin era.

Here's the lowdown on San Diego State which will face the Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium on Sept. 26.

Offense: 

With quarterback Quinn Kaehler back for his senior season the Aztecs ought to be in good hands. Coming off of a 7-6 season doesn't strike the fear of God into anyone, but experienced quarterbacks aren't something to overlook.

SDSU returns an effective ground attack that was ranked 28th in the nation in yards per game. All in all the Aztecs should in theory be improved by experience alone. The only problem, despite the strong ground attack, the team scored 25 points a game last season to rank 91st in the country.

Defense: 

Thirteenth in the nation in points allowed per game shows the Aztecs have been a reliable defensive team. The question now is whether that performance can be repeated in 2015. A favorable schedule in the Mountain West can go a long way toward yet another bowl bid if the Aztecs can make the most of their experience and skill.

Biggest Game:

While the Aztecs will play Penn State two weeks later, a Week 2 meeting at Cal should prove to be a big opportunity for the program. SDSU isn't afraid of the travel either with a trip to Hawaii on the schedule as well as a visit east to play the Nittany Lions. A home game against Utah State in the back half of the season could be the determining factor when it comes to how well the Aztecs do in conference play and their season at large.

Biggest Storyline:

There are expectations that come with having a senior quarterback and an effective ground game. The question: Can SDSU can live up to those expectations? The Aztecs don't have to be world beaters, but the pieces are in place for a solid season. All of that will come back to the one thing SDSU couldn't do well last year, score when it has the ball.

Prediction:

The first ever meeting between two programs always makes for a certain level of unknowns. Add in the fact that this game will be played the week following Penn State's night game with Rutgers and there is a certain amount of "trap game" to this contest.

SDSU is clearly not worried about travel heading out to Hawaii and Penn State in the same season and it might be foolish to overplay that travel aspect of the game when assessing who wins.

All in all, Penn State ought to win this game, but it's unwise to count out a senior quarterback and an effective running game. Penn State is bringing Bob Shoop and company to the party though, and that's enough to win this. Not to mention that Christian Hackenberg kid.

 

Related Stories:

Penn State Football Opponent Preview:Buffalo Hits The Road With New Head Coach

Penn State Football Opponent Preview: Rutgers Looking To Build On First Season In Big Ten

Penn State Football Opponent Preview: Temple Looking For Scoring In 2015



Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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