Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 9/6/13
After opening the season with a win on the road, the Penn State Nittany Lions return home to some of the friendliest confines in college football on Saturday. After the Nittany Lions spent last weeks season opener in a “neutral site” game, beating Syracuse 23-17 at MetLiefe Stadium, they’ll return home to Beaver Stadium, which can house roughly another 20,000 more fans than the NFL stadium that the Jets and Giants share. Joining the Nittany Lions (1-0) in Beaver Stadium for the noon kickoff will be the Eastern Michigan Eagles (1-0), who edged FCS opponent Howard 34-24 in their season opener last week. The Eagles racked up 170 yards on the ground, and junior quarterback Tyler Benz added 210 yards and two touchdowns through the air. Tailbacks Bronson Hill and Darius Jackson combined for 165 yards on 35 carries and three scores on the day. It marks the first home start for freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg, who showed flashes of brilliance in throwing for 278 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Orange in his first career start. Now it’s time to unveil the heralded signal caller to the football-crazed town of Happy Valley. Penn State hopes for a better result against this MAC team than the season opening loss the Ohio Bobcats handed the Nittany Lions in Beaver Stadium a year ago in coach Bill O’Brien’s first in charge of the program. But these visitors aren’t quite the 10-win Bobcats that ruined O’Brien’s debut last season, as the Eagles won just two games last season and struggled against far interior competition just last week. The Nittany Lions have a clear edge on both sides of the ball as far as skill-wise and from a matchup standpoint. The Eagles will undoubtedly have issues covering receiver Allen Robinson, who followed his first half suspension last week with a 51-yard touchdown to start the third quarter en route to 133 yards on seven receptions. Robinson is one of the best in the country and figures to be the best wideout the Eagles face all season. In addition to the threat outside of Robinson, the Eagles will be dealing with a young quarterback with a ton of confidence coming off of his first win as a starter. Christian Hackenberg finished 22-31 for 278 yards and two touchdowns against the Orange last week. Not bad for a first start in college, eh? Despite being intercepted twice, and one of them potentially game-changing, the freshman acclimated himself to the big stage well and should be even more conformable in front of home fans this week. Another factor besides the budding Penn State passing game for the Eagles to worry about on defense is the Penn State rushing offense. Syracuse returned a solid defensive unit from a year ago and showed it last week in holding the Nittany Lions to just 57 yards on 38 carries. After spending last season averaging five yards per carry, senior tailback Zach Zwinak saw himself held to under three yards a carry last Saturday. Expect O’Brien and his staff to push a veteran offensive line to create more running room for Zwinak and the running game to reduce pressure on the freshman quarterback in game two. It should be easier sledding for the offensive line as the Eagles allowed 200 yards on the ground to Howard last week. On the defensive side of the ball, the Nittany Lions were stout as usual against Syracuse. Up by just six with plenty of time left on the clock for the Orange offense, and the Lions defense held and sealed the win. Senior defensive tackle DaQuan Jones was in the Syracuse backfield all day and should again push the pocket against Eastern Michigan come Saturday. The Penn State defense held the ‘Cuse to just 260 total yards in the win. Key matchup: Eastern Michigan’s front seven vs. Penn State’s rushing attack Hackenberg proved that he’s the real deal last week, and should have no problem throwing to a bevy of weapons again, but the Nittany Lion rushing game never got footing in the win and showed some cause for concern. Enter the Eastern Michigan defense, which allowed over 200 yards on the ground to an FCS opponent last week. Look for Penn State to establish the running game early and see if the Eagles’ front seven can stand up to the challenge. My guess is that they won’t, and the Lions will go on to cruise in this one going away. While the competition won’t be as tough, the Lions will need another complete team effort to move to 2-0 on Saturday. We think they get it, 42-17 over Eastern Michigan.        

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Manziel not planning bachelor party, focused on NFL comeback

Bills owner struggles to answer question about competency

Olynk cracks funny joke about Thomas' missing tooth

NFL exec: Bears GM Ryan Pace 'just got fired with this draft'

John Elway consulted Jim Kelly before drafting nephew Chad

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

McCloughan a possible candidate for Bills' GM vacancy?

Rockies-Diamondbacks game included a broken-bat homer and the longest homer of 2017

Report: Texans wouldn’t take Jay Cutler’s calls

Albert Pujols mocks Rangers pitcher after beef

Top 10 takeaways from the 2017 NFL Draft

Mitchell Trubisky booed at Celtics-Bulls game, for some reason

NBA playoffs: Rivalries to rematches, stories to follow in the second round

The 'Beast Mode as a parting gift' quiz

Best of Yardbarker: Don't sleep on the Stanley Cup Playoffs

Our favorite undrafted players of all time

Everything you need for the 2017 NFL Draft

Kicking it: Orlando surges while the Galaxy struggles

Three Up, Three Down: Madison Bumgarner gets grounded

Box Score 4/28: NFL Draft gets younger every year

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The 'NFL Draft Day is finally upon us' quiz

Most memorable 'NFL Draft weekend drama' stories

Stanley Cup Playoffs: Eastern rivalries take center stage

College Football News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

NBA playoffs: Rivalries to rematches, stories to follow in the second round

Best of Yardbarker: Don't sleep on the Stanley Cup Playoffs

The 'Beast Mode as a parting gift' quiz

Everything you need for the 2017 NFL Draft

Our favorite undrafted players of all time

Kicking it: Orlando surges while the Galaxy struggles

Three Up, Three Down: Madison Bumgarner gets grounded

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The 'NFL Draft Day is finally upon us' quiz

Most memorable 'NFL Draft weekend drama' stories

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker