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Penn State Football: Previewing The Opponent: Pitt

by on September 08, 2017 12:00 PM

The wait is finally over. Penn State and Pitt will take the field on Saturday for the second installment of the renewed rivalry, this time at Beaver Stadium for a 3:30 kickoff.

The Nittany Lions come into the game at 1-0 and ranked No. 4 in the nation while Pitt also enters undefeated at 1-0 but unranked. None of that will matter when the game begins and Penn State looks to avenge its 42-39 loss to the Panthers in Week 2 of last season. While both teams are looking toward the future, there's little doubt that loss still lingers on the taste buds of the Nittany Lions.

So what do you need to know about Pitt?

Last Week: 

Pitt enters this week having come off a 28-21 overtime victory against Youngstown State that nearly won the game in regulation. An interception by Bricen Garner sealed the win in the extra period, saving the day for Pitt. The win improves Pat Narduzzi to 17-10 at Pitt in his third season as the Panthers' head coach.

The Offense:

USC transfer quarterback Max Browne wasn't overly impressive in his debut going 17-of-24 for 140 yards and a touchdown. From there it was Qadree Ollison that will pose the biggest threat for Penn State out of the backfield as he, much like Saquon Barkley, is a threat with his feet and his hands. In the win over Youngstown State, Ollison pulled down five catches for 35 yards and ran 22 times for 91 yards and two scores.

Jester Weah and Quadree Henderson make up a talented receiving corps, but neither had overly impressive Week 1 debuts. The offensive front is entirely upperclassmen except for center Jimmy Morrissey.

The Defense:

Outside linebacker Elijah Zeise is the one to watch here racking up six tackles and 1.5 TFL in Pitt's opener. After putting a fairly old and experienced defense on the field last year, this group is going through some growing pains with new faces. Dane Jackson and Jazzee Stocker are the youngest of the bunch at corner and safety on a defense with just two senior starters.

The Player To Watch:

It all comes down to Quadree Henderson, the First-team All-American returner who can turn a game in an instant. Penn State has done a good job in the past dealing with potent return men, but they may not have faced one as good as Henderson just yet. Beyond that if Browne can get some confidence and takes a step forward in Week 2, he has the tools to play well. But that will all come down to the battle in the trenches, an experienced offensive line against a new, but promising Penn State defensive front.

The Prediction:

Pitt will score, but this isn't 2016 anymore and that's good news for Penn State and bad news for the Panthers. Don't expect the Nittany Lions to get hit with the first punch two years in a row and if the Akron game was any indication don't expect James Franklin to take his foot off the gas either. Pitt beat Clemson on the road last year, so anything is possible, but it's hard to imagine a prediction that doesn't pick Penn State. 

Nittany Lions 42-10



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