Penn State Football finally kicks off its much-anticipated 2023 season this Saturday vs West Virginia. Beaver Stadium is going to be raucous and roaring. Optimism is high for the 7th-ranked Nittany Lions.
This team looks set to compete for a Big Ten Championship, but James Franklin’s men obviously have much higher aspirations than that.
PSU still hasn’t appeared in a College Football Playoff since its creation in 2014. This team is much too talented and loaded on both sides of the ball to not succeed this year and reach new heights.
The journey begins with a non conference showdown against the unranked West Virginia Mountaineers hailing from the Big 12. PSU is heavily expected to win as 20.5 point favorites in this matchup. There is plenty to be excited about but they can’t sleep on this WVU team.
Two reasons for optimism and a reason for Penn State Football to Worry concern in this Week 1 matchup
Penn State is going to DOMINATE the trenches on both sides of the ball
James Franklin’s brand is smash–mouth, tough, intelligent football.
That is his bread and butter and how he wants his teams to always be represented.
Thankfully for him, Franklin has a bunch of beasts on both the offensive and defensive lines. They are big, mean, and physical and will give quarterback Drew Allar plenty of time to make throws and open up holes for the Penn State run game as well.
West Virginia may not be able to match Penn State’s physicality and intimidating presences all over both sides of the ball. If the Mountaineers don’t come ready for a dogfight, this could end up being a blowout early.
Penn State’s fans will be a huge factor as will continuity and experience in their system
Penn State Football is known for its unwavering alumni, fan support, and dominance at home in Beaver Stadium.
PSU is 48-9-2 all-time against WVU, their last matchup was 31 years ago way back in 1992, and the lopsided matchup should continue in this contest.
Penn State may have lost some talented players to the NFL Draft, but that is really nothing new for Franklin’s program.
With a stable coaching staff with the Head Coach and both coordinators returning, this group should do well. They are already in terms of knowing the playbook and mastering their system due to their experience (and prior success) running different looks on both sides of the ball last season.
Reason to Worry: West Virginia should have a strong game and could target this Penn State weakness from last year
West Virginia should come out and play loose, free football, with a confident mindset.
They have everything to play for and really nothing to lose. Nobody is picking them in this game and some trick plays wouldn’t surprise anyone.
If there’s one thing WVU is good at, it’s running the football. CJ Donaldson had a promising Freshman season and will be counted on in a larger role this year.
One thing Penn State struggled too much with last year was missed tackles, often coming at bad times. They missed 116 tackles total in 2022, per PFF and that is nearly 10 missed tackles a game.
Manny Diaz’s unit needs to cut down on the sloppy mistakes or WVU could end up turning a small play into a home run.