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Penn State vs. Virginia

Posted By Jeremy Hall On Sep 8 2012 @ 1:30 am In Penn State | 2 Comments

There was plenty of emotion in Beaver Stadium last Saturday as the Nittany Lions took the field for the first time under new head coach Bill O’Brien.  The wave of emotion seemed to help Penn State jump out to an early lead and managed to carry the Nittany Lions into the locker room with a 14 – 3 halftime advantage.  However, all of that enthusiasm wasn’t enough to help the Nittany Lions scrape out a victory against a good Ohio team.  A lackluster rushing attack along with 3 turnovers really put the Nittany Lions in a very precarious situation that could not be overcome and the Nittany Lions dropped their 2012 season opener last week in Happy Valley falling to the Ohio Bobcats 24 – 14.  Now the 0- 1 (Big Ten 0 – 0) Nittany Lions travel to Charlottesville, VA to face the Virginia Cavaliers in Scott Stadium.  The last meeting between these two teams took place back in 2002.  Penn State leads the all time series with the Virginia Cavaliers *5 – 2 (*PSU’s win in 2002 was vacated).  The Nittany Lions have also enjoyed a tremendous amount of success against teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference.  In fact, Penn State owns an impressive *89 – 21 – 2 overall record (*3 of these wins were vacated) versus the 12 teams that currently comprise the ACC.

The Cavaliers compiled a respectable 8 – 4 (ACC 5 – 3) regular season record last season.  Virginia’s 8 wins a season ago made them bowl eligible for the first time since 2007.  Virginia is hoping junior quarterback Michael Rocco can lead them to another successful campaign in 2013.  Rocco and the Cavaliers got off to a good start last week as they defeated the Richmond Spiders 43 – 19.  A balanced rushing attack and Rocco’s 311 passing yards seemed to be difference against Richmond.  However, I believe Penn State will be a better test for the Cavaliers since the Nittany Lions’ strength is on the defensive side of the ball despite what the numbers from last week show.

Important Factors For Penn State Success:

- Establish the running game in order to help control the clock.

- Sustain drives to keep the defense fresh.

- Protect the football.

Important Factors For Virginia Success:

- Exploit PSU’s pass defense which surrendered 324 yards through the air last week.

- Continue to spread the ball around.  Last week Rocco connected with 11 different receivers.

- Force Matt McGloin to beat you.

Penn State Nittany Lions

Virginia Cavaliers

Total Offense (yds/gm)

352 (69th)

266 (28th)

Total Defense
Rushing Yards/Game

92 (90th)

28 (7th)

Rushing Defense
Passing Yards/Game

260 (37th)

238 (67th)

Passing Defense
Sacks Allowed/Game

0

0 (89th)

Sacks/Game
Giveaways

(-)3

0 (90th)

Takeaways
3rd Down Conversion %

50% (31st)

26.67% (28th)

3rd Down Conv. % Defense
Red Zone Scoring %

100% (T1st)

100%

Red Zone Defense
Kickoff Return Average

16.25 (75th)

17.33 (31st)

Kickoff Return Avg. Against
Punt Return Average

2 (75th)

17 (64th)

Punt Return Avg. Against
Points Scored/Game

14 (89th)

19

Points Allowed/Game
Penalties Committed

3 for 25 (11th)

3 for 26 (11th)

Penalties Committed
Total Defense

499 (92nd)

545 (18th)

Total Offense (yds/gm)
Rushing Defense

175 (69th)

184 (47th)

Rushing Yards/Game
Passing Defense

324 (96th)

361 (9th)

Passing Yards/Game
Sacks/Game

1 (T68th)

0

Sacks Allowed/Game
Takeaways

0 (90th)

0

Giveaways
3rd Down Conv. % Defense

61.90% (103rd)

50% (31st)

3rd Down Conversion %
Red Zone Defense

100%

83% (55th)

Red Zone Scoring %
Kickoff Return Avg. Against

14.67 (13th)

33 (14th)

Kickoff Return Average
Punt Return Avg. Against

0

4.5 (63rd)

Punt Return Average
Points Allowed/Game

24

43 (26th)

Points Scored/Game

How I See It:

I believe this game will be a challenge for the Nittany Lions as they continue to experience the growing pains associated with learning a new offense and defense.  Penn State only managed to rush for 92 yards last week while Virginia only allowed 28 yards on 21 carries which doesn’t bode well for the Nittany Lions.  Penn State might be able to stay in this game if they can generate a viable rushing attack and hold onto the football but I don’t think that is going to happen.

 Penn State 16 Virginia 30

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