Penn State Football Versus Akron Zips: Predictions

STATE COLLEGE, PA - OCTOBER 06: The Nittany Lion pumps up the crowd against the Northwestern Wildcats during the game on October 6, 2012 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania. The Nittany Lions defeated the Wildcats 39-28. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
STATE COLLEGE, PA - OCTOBER 06: The Nittany Lion pumps up the crowd against the Northwestern Wildcats during the game on October 6, 2012 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania. The Nittany Lions defeated the Wildcats 39-28. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

What will happen on September 2 when Penn State football finally takes the field against Akron? Check out VBR’s predictions.

Penn State football enters the new season looking to build on a strong showing in 2016. The Nittany Lions went on a nine-game win streak and won the Big Ten Championship. With the core of last year’s team returning, the Penn State is poised for more big things this season.

The opening game can be an interesting one, as it’s the first real action of the new year. On paper, Penn State football should roll all over Akron, but anything can happen in college football, especially early.

Below you’ll find VBR’s fearless staff predictions for the opening game against Akron.

Barry Leonard, Site Expert

The time for talk is over, as the start of the 2017 college football season has finally arrived. The Nittany Lions kick of the season with a non-conference match against the Akron Zips. On paper, this one looks to be lopsided.

Penn State ended last season as one of the most potent offenses in FBS. Besides the loss of top receiver Chris Godwin, most of the offense returns this year. Throw in some new, talented faces on the offensive line, and the Lions should once again be able to light up the scoreboard.

A slow start in this one wouldn’t exactly surprise me, but I don’t expect it to last long.

I’m looking for a lot of Saquon Barkley in the first half. Look for him to rack up close to 200 all-purpose yards, all while likely sitting out the fourth quarter. Also, quarterback Trace McSorley should have a fun time airing it out against the Akron defense.

Big days from Mike Gesicki and DaeSean Hamilton are expected.

On defense, there could be a bit of “bend, don’t break,” until the unit gets comfortable playing together. Four starters are gone from last year, but fortunately, the guys stepping up have a lot of talent.

Stopping Akron quarterback Thomas Woodson will be job No. 1 for Brent Pry’s defense.

Like I said, this one could start a bit slow. However, Penn State was a second-half team for much of last season.

In the end, Penn State wins easily.

Penn State 48
Akron 7

Collin Wieder, Site Expert

This season has all the makings of a banner year for Penn State football. In 2016,  the Nittany Lions solidified each aspect of the team. Now, it’s time to show off how the team progressed over the offseason.

A few things are for sure locks in the season opener against Akron. Saquon Barkly will shred with an experienced offensive front, while Trace McSorley will drop dimes on the defense. The amount of starters returning to this explosive offense will overwhelm Akron. I’m the first guy to give mid-major squad loads of credit, but it’ll be hard to stop this high-scoring machine.

Between Mike Gesicki, DaeSean Hamilton, DeAndre Thompkins, Saeed Blacknall and Juwan Johnson, this receiving corp is nearly uncoverable. The height and speed from this group makes defense fear the big play ball something that OC Joe Moorhead will take advantage of.

On defense, as Barry said, it’s about Woodson. This dual threat stud can’t be allowed to scramble and Penn State won’t let him. Outside of three players, most of last year’s widespread pass rushing production is back. If they can give Woodson happy feet in the pocket, he’s liable to force a ball or take a sack.

I’d expect a better showing than last year’s opener against Kent State. The chemistry is much better this year and there’s no ushering in a new quarterback. The offense can take its queues from McSorley and roll to a win.

Penn State 41
Akron 17

Marty Leap, Contributor

2017 has the potential to be an extremely special one in Happy Valley and that begins on Saturday when they host the Akron Zips in the season opener. It is also the start of the Heisman campaigns of Saquon Barkley and Trace McSorley.

To be honest, this is game the Nittany Lions should roll to victory in. Penn State is one of the 5-7 best teams in the country and far too much for a MAC school to handle. I would not expect to see much of the playbook on Saturday, and look for James Franklin and company to get younger players as many reps as possible.

It will be be fun to watch some of the players who stole the show in the offseason. These include wide receiver Juwan Johnson, offensive lineman Steven Gonzalez, linebacker Koa Farmer, defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos, and cornerbacks Lamont Wade and Tariq Castro-Fields. Beginning to see how the defensive end rotation will shake out is worth keeping an eye on as well.

In the end, Penn State cruises to victory over the Zips and the starters have a short day. Saquon Barkley and Miles Sanders both rush for a pair of touchdowns, while Tommy Stevens adds his first career touchdown pass.

Penn State 49
Akron 13

Contributor Joe Ciminera

Penn State kicks off the 2017 season in Happy Valley against an intriguing Akron team.

The Zips showed the ability to put up points in the 2016 season before injuries slowed them down. After starting the season 4-2, Akron limped their way to a dissapointing 5-7 season. On the flip side, Penn State showed vast improvements throughout the course of the season.

This can be attributed in part to the play of quarterback Trace McSorley. Look for McSorley to pick up where he left off and pick apart an Akron defense that will struggle this season. The Zips quarterback situation is somewhat murky, but it looks like starter Thomas Woodson has fully recovered from shoulder surgery. We’ll find just how healthy he is after being introduced to the turf by Shareef Miller and Torrance Brown.

Penn State football will get to Akron’s quarterback and keep him uncomfortable all game while McSorley will be spinning it all over the field. Akron may score some points, but Penn State will win in a convincing fashion. Saquan Barkley will be his dominant self. Look for a big run early in the game to ignite Beaver Stadium.

Penn State 45
Akron 17

Corey Hunter, Contributor 

Penn State football is back! This weekend the Nittany Lions open their season against Akron in Beaver Stadium.

Akron poses an interesting opener. The MAC-East opponent is looking to shock the nation. Their offensive line returns intact along with running back Warren Ball and senior quarterback Thomas Woodson to lead the way offensively. Defensively they also return a premier tackler in linebacker Ulysses Gilbert.

Akron head coach Terry Bowden will certainly have his team ready for a trip to Happy Valley. However, it still won’t be enough to overcome all of the weapons at offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead’s disposal.

The Lions will start out sluggish…again, as McSorley and company work out the first-game jitters. Eventually Penn State gets on track and things begin to click.

Look for Penn State to take a less-than-comfortable 17-3 lead into halftime. In the second half, just like last year, adjustments are made and the Nittany Lions roll. A late touchdown by the reserves allows Akron to cover the nearly 31-point spread.

Penn State – 37
Akron – 13

Shane Lunnen, Contributor

Finally, Penn State football is back. It’s been far too long since we last saw the Nittany Lions, the Blue-White game withstanding.  The Rose Bowl unfortunately ended in a USC victory, but the expectations surrounding the program are the highest I can remember since 1999. So much talk of another Big Ten championship and the possibility of earning a playoff berth. All of that talk is fun, but…Akron, Akron, Akron.

The Lions welcome the Zips to Beaver Stadium on Saturday. Penn State’s offense could be as good, if not better, than the 2016 squad. Akron is breaking in two new starting cornerbacks so offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead should let Trace McSorley air it out to test their inexperienced secondary. Chris Godwin is gone, but the Lions have a ton of depth at wide receiver. We shouldn’t expect a drop-off of receiving production. Oh and there is this kid named Saquon Barkley. He’s kind of a good player.

Next: Penn State vs Akron Preview

Season openers are always difficult to predict because you just don’t know what is going to happen until the teams hit the field and play a quarter or two. On paper, Penn State is the superior team and should dispose of Akron fairly quickly. It would be nice to get some extended playing time for the backups. However don’t be surprised if Akron keeps it close in the first half before the Lions break it wide open in the second half.

Penn State 42
Akron 17