At the start of each week, Land of 10 will break down the postseason implications, and projections, to come out of the Penn State Nittany Lions’ latest contest …
What happened: The Lions (1-0) rolled Akron 52-0 on Saturday in the season opener for both schools. The defending Big Ten champs picked up offensively right where they left off in January, with tailback Saquon Barkley racking up 172 yards and 2 scores on 14 carries and quarterback Trace McSorley completing 18 of 25 throws for 280 yards. Tight end Mike Gesicki snared 2 touchdown passes and wideouts Juwan Johnson and DaeSean Hamilton averaged 22.6 yards per reception between them.
What it means: A rout was expected, but not one so comprehensive. Barkley and McSorley are likely going to spend all year flip-flopping each other on national Heisman Trophy ballots. The pleasant surprise was the fact that Penn State’s defense forced the Zips to punt 11 times and allowed Akron to cross midfield just once. If the defense, riddled last season by injuries, can start to match the explosiveness the Lions feature on offense, James Franklin has a College Football Playoff semifinalist on his hands.
Projected record: Massey Ratings — 9-3; TeamRankings.com — 10-2
Projected postseason destination: Orange Bowl, Dec. 30, Miami Gardens, Fla., versus an ACC opponent.
Cheapest seat at TicketCity.com as of Sunday: $165
Up next: vs. Pittsburgh on Saturday in State College. The Panthers (1-0) knocked off FCS power Youngstown State in overtime, 28-21, in Week 1, but blew a 21-0 lead in the process and were outgained on the day by the Penguins, 418-348. And considering the Panthers knocked off the Lions last September at Heinz Field, Franklin’s had this puppy circled for a while.
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