Syracuse Orange Vs. Penn State Nittany Lions Free Pick 8/31/13

Syracuse Orange Vs. Penn State Nittany Lions Free Pick 8/31/13
2013-08-31 02:30:00 EDT

The Syracuse Orange and the Penn State Nittany Lions play in week one of the college football season on Saturday afternoon.

The Syracuse Orange finished 8-5 overall and 5-2 in the Big East last year. In 2013, Head coach Scott Shafer and the Orange will now join the ACC. Syracuse will start sophomore QB Terrel Hunt to lead the Orange offense this season. However, the Orange will rely on one of the best backfields in the ACC. Syracuse brings back both of last season’s leaders, seniors Jerome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley, who will have high expectations despite the changes at quarterback and along the offensive line. The line has three returning starters, led by junior LT Sean Hickey and senior C Macky MacPherson. Syracuse does not have an impressive receiving unit heading into the season, so this sets up to be a run heavy offense. Defensively, there are significant losses for Syracuse to deal with in the secondary and defensive line. Senior DT Jay Bromley is the lone returning starter on a reworked defensive line. The secondary will need to develop fast with several strong passing teams on Syracuse’s schedule, including Penn State this week. The Orange will be solid at linebacker, especially if junior LB Dyshawn Davis develops into a star on the weak side. Overall, Syracuse has several changes to deal with this year and it will be interesting to see how the Orange performs against a solid Penn State squad.

The Penn State Nittany Lions surprised a lot of people by going 8-4 in 2012 in the wake of the horrible Jerry Sandusky molestation scandal. The after affects will be felt in the football program for years to come, mainly due to harsh NCAA sanctions that severely limited scholarships and banned the program from postseason play for four years. Despite the sanctions, true freshman Christian Hackenberg, a 5 star recruit, committed to Penn State and will start for the Nittany Lions. Junior RB Zach Zwinak ran for over 100 yards in six of the Nittany Lions last eight games in 2012 and will be the featured back this season. Junior WR Allen Robinson had 77 catches for 1,013 yards and 11 scores last year for Penn State and he will be the main target for Hakenberg in 2013. The tight ends may be the best unit in the Big Ten and possible the nation this season. Senior Matt Lehman was one of a group of starters last year and had 24 catches, 296 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Lehman will be joined by 3 other solid tight ends that will make Hakenberg’s life a little easier as a freshman. The offensive line wasn’t great last year but should improve as most of the starters and back-ups return. The defense returns several key starters for new defensive coordinator John Butler, but depth will be an issue. The pass rush was excellent last year and it should be outstanding once again, led by sophomore DE Deion Barnes. LB Glenn Carson will lead the linebacker unit as he moves from the outside over to the middle spot. Senior safeties Stephen Obeng-Agyapong and Malcolm Willis will lead the secondary unit. Penn State has talent on offense and defense despite the NCAA sanctions and I think the Nittany Lions will be a solid team in 2013.

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A college football rivalry that dates back to 1922 will resume on Saturday when Syracuse and Penn State clash at Metlife Stadium in New Jersey. Penn State returns 16 starters and brings in a freshman quarterback that has the potential of being a future NFL prospect. Syracuse returns 12 starters, including 5 on offense and 7 on defense to join first year head coach Scott Shafer. I think Penn State has the advantage in coaching with Bill O’Brien, offense with a great running game and a solid group of tight ends, and defense with a great group of returning starters. This game won’t be a blow out but I think Penn State comes away with a 10-14 point win to start the 2013 season.

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Mitch Wilson's Free Pick:
Penn State -8
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Mitch Wilson

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