Betting line: PSU -5.5
After starting out slow, the Penn State offense really found their rhythm and posted 574 yards of total offense. QB Christian Hackenberg started the game missing receivers badly, and fumbling on a play that allowed EMU to get their only points of the game. Hackenberg finished the game with over 311 yards and one touchdown passing, and the three headed RB monster of Bill Belton, Akeel Lynch, and Zach Zwinak ran for 259 rushing yards. The defense was stifling, allowing zero points to the EMU offense, and only allowing them to gain 183 yards of total offense. WR Allen Robinson, one of 9 PSU players with a reception in Week 2, had seven catches for 129 yards and one touchdown. The offense will need another good performance to set the pace and tone of the game against a tough, physical UCF team.
Zach Zwinak is a bruiser, Bill Belton is a shifty runner. Akeel Lynch is a combination of both of these styles, and should see an increase in carries this week after his 108 yard performance last week. On one drive, Lynch showed his north-south running style, as well as the ability to make super quick cuts to make defenders miss and allow him to get to the second level. UCF's defensive strength is their physical play in the trenches, and PSU will need to find a way to get their running game going to open up the passing game for Hackenberg. Hackenberg has been brilliant on the play action, which needs the running game to be working, and working well. Look for all RBs to get a number of touches, but the Canadian born Lynch (aka Big Maple) should have another solid game.
The Penn State defense will receive a big boost when LB Mike Hull returns to the field after missing most of the Week 1 game and all of the Week 2 game with an injury. Hull, a quick and aggressive LB who can play inside or outside, will be a big help to the defensive front of the Lions. UCF, a tough running offense, will look to establish their running game early, and Hull will be important in denying the Knights' offense from moving the ball. Hull, also a good cover LB, will be called upon to help stop UCF QB Blake Bortles (5 TD in two games) and the UCF passing attack. Look for Hull to be flying around and getting involved in the backfield early.
This will be the toughest for each team so far in this young season. After beating Akron and FIU easily, UCF travels into a hostile environment for a primetime game. The PSU students will be decked out in all white, and of course, will be loud. PSU, on the other hand, needs to come out playing better than they started against EMU. Hackenberg needs to get over his jitters quickly, be able to find his receivers, and Bill O'Brien needs to have an open playbook to be able to adjust to the tough UCF defense. While UCF has played very well it's last two games, the Lions offense comes out firing in this game with the no-huddle (NASCAR) offense for a couple quick scores. PSU's defense plays another strong game and Sam Ficken goes 2-for-3 on field goals to help the Lions secure the 27-20 victory.
Quote of the Day:
"You don't get to the moon by climbing a tree."