Penn State line looks to contain Army's triple option
Who: Army vs. Penn State
When: Saturday, 12 p.m. ET
Where: Beaver Stadium, Penn State
Matchup to watch: Carl Nassib vs. Army triple option
It might be putting it lightly to say Nassib is the breakout player in the B1G. In his first season as a starter, the former walk-on already has a nation-leading seven sacks. Nassib will face a new challenge against the Army triple option. He won’t be able to just pin his ears back and rush the quarterback. Any defensive end against the triple option needs to be aggressive, obviously, but its a different speed to play at than the style that’s made Nassib so successful this year. The 6-7 senior might not have to deal with Army quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw, who left last week with an undisclosed injury and is questionable for Saturday. Aaron Kemper and Matt Giachinta are still capable of busting big plays, though without Bradshaw, the Black Knights wouldn’t present as versatile of an attack.
Thing I’m excited to see: Anthony Zettel touchdown return
Last week, we saw Austin Johnson return a fumble for a touchdown, and we all enjoyed that. I’m making the bold prediction and saying Zettel gets into the end zone against Army. Zettel is due for that monster play we’ve all grown accustomed to seeing. I’m picturing a play where Zettel slips into the backfield and knocks down a pitch, scoops and scores. Against a triple option team potentially playing with a backup quarterback, footballs could be there for the taking. And when they are, we’ll get the pleasure of watching Zettel one-up Johnson’s march to the end zone.
Number to remember: 6.98
That’s how many yards per carry Akeel Lynch and Saquon Barkley are averaging this year. Both of them are questionable for Saturday after sitting the second half against San Diego State. They aren’t season-ending injuries, but that’s a lot of production to have missing. It could be on a pair of inexperienced ball-carriers, Nick Scott and Mark Allen, to shoulder that workload. The potential loss of Barkley and Lynch would also take away the balance Christian Hackenberg needs to operate. Against Army, it shouldn’t be much of a problem. But if the two rushers are absent and it shows, it might not be the best sign for B1G play.
Prediction: Penn State 35, Army 10
Again, this is Army. The Lions won’t have to look their best to be effective. I understand that Army just dropped 58 points against lowly Eastern Michigan. I think the Penn State defense — Zettel in particularly — scores as many touchdowns as the Black Knights offense. Hackenberg gets the time he needs to feel comfortable in the pocket and we finally get a 100-yard game from DaeSean Hamilton. The Lions cruise back into B1G play with ease.