Penn State Game 1 Preview: Idaho Week

Oh baby, it’s football season. I know you all have been waiting all summer. You’ve been trying your best to stay away from carbs, spend time with your loved ones, and pile on the Instagrams. Unfortunately, those days are coming to a close. It’s time to put on a hoodie, feel that crisp autumn air, and commit to your personality, not your figure. #12 Penn State’s first opponent of the year is FCS Idaho, a team who finished 4-7 last year.

Three Things To Watch For:

  • Sean Clifford makes his first start for the Nits, after backing up Trace McSorely for the last few years. Having only played sparsely in garbage time, we don’t really know what to expect from the red-shirt sophomore. Clifford has a bigger arm than Trace, but is less of an athlete on reputation. His performance will likely dictate how far the Nittany Lions will go this year and whether they can push for a Big Ten title. It will be a good opportunity for Penn State to see Clifford’s arm talent and athletic gifts, as he’ll likely shine against such a lowly opponent.

 

  • This will be a great opportunity for a lot of the young Penn State talent to shine. The new Red-Shirt rule a few years ago allows for players to dress for up to four games and still maintain their red-shirt year. This allows for teams to give their true freshmen a few games of exposure, while still maintaining their eligibility. Early season tune-ups like Idaho provide a great opportunity for Penn State to show off a lot of its young talent. Look for 5-star freshman Brandon Smith to take the stage and take some time at middle linebacker. Also look for true freshmen and members of Penn State’s quartet of starting caliber running backs, Devyn Ford and Noah Cain, to spark some controversy around who should be the bell cow. This is a fun week to see a lot of these young guys flash their talent and get excited for Penn State’s future over the next few years.

 

  • Keep an eye on the Nitt’s young receiving core. Beyond the all-purpose and The Athletic Pre-Season All-American KJ Hamler, the group is relatively unproven. Justin Shorter and Jahan Dotson both come in with huge expectations, but have yet to flash in their young careers. This Penn State team was plagued with drops last season and was forced to bring in a new receivers coach in Gerard Parker after the firing of their past leader. The team really needs other weapons to emerge besides Hamler, and look for a large percentage of this group to get looks in this first week matchup.

Gambling Tips:

Penn State opens as 36.5 point favorites over the Vandals of Idaho. These lines are impossible and no fun at all to bet on. If you are a sick person, who is clearly in need of help, first try to satiate your gambling addiction in another way. If you are unable to move beyond your desires, then lay the 36.5 points on the Nitts. James Franklin has never been afraid to keep his foot on the gas and lay the points on lower level opponents. Idaho lost 79-13 to Fresno State last year and 63-10 to Florida. I think Penn State can cover this spread, even without having to show anything beyond their “vanilla” gameplan, but please for your sake and mine, do not bet on this game.

Game Prediction:

Penn State wins 67-10. They give up a late score with the backups in, but generally everyone that you want to impress impresses. We don’t learn anything because of the quality of the opponent, but we hope they can pull this off for Michigan. We’re happy they made it through, but we’re not quite jazzed yet. Sean Clifford wins over Happy Valley with his amber goatee and monster arm.