Penn State vs. Kent State
When: 3:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Beaver Stadium
Series: Penn State leads 3-0
Last meeting: Penn State won 24-0 at Beaver Stadium (Sept. 18, 2010)
Coaches: Kent State — Paul Haynes, 1st season, 1-2 overall; Penn State — Bill O’Brien, second season, 10-5 overall.
Television: Big Ten Network (commentators: Kevin Kugler, Chuck Long)
Radio: WQWK 1450, WBUS 93.7 (Announcers: Steve Jones, Jack Ham)
The skinny: Two weeks removed from thrashing Eastern Michigan, the Nittany Lions get a crack at another team that has never beaten a Big Ten team. Kent State will be hard-pressed to upend Penn State this time around, especially considering how shorthanded the Golden Flashes could be. They’ll be without superstar running back Dri Archer, who will sit out to nurse an injured ankle. Defensive tackle Nate Terhune is out with a broken leg and defensive end/tackle Roosevelt Nix — Kent State’s sack machine — has seen reduced playing time early this season with back issues. Starting offensive guard Pat McShane, one of just two returning starters along the Golden Flashes’ line, is probable with an ankle injury. Although Penn State’s defense was carved up by UCF quarterback Blake Bortles, Kent State’s Colin Reardon and his targets don’t pose as big a threat and have been stifled in their previous three games, averaging just 183 yards through the air in that span. Defensively, the Golden Flashes are surrendering 32 points per game.
Golden Flashes player to watch: Although he’s just 5-foot-11, Nix can pack a wollop at 267 pounds. He’s a vaunted speed rusher who could fly under the radar in his quest to make it to the next level. His 52 career tackles for loss are second in team history while his 201/2 sacks are fourth all-time. Nix was able to rest up last week and could see more playing time against the Nittany Lions.
Nittany Lion to watch: Kyle Carter has just four catches for 39 yards but is facing a defense that has let tight ends break loose for big gains over the last two games. The Golden Flashes have surrendered five catches for 80 yards to tight ends the last two weeks and could be susceptible to a big athletic target like Carter, who is getting healthier after nearly breaking his arm against Syracuse.
Key matchup: Can anyone stop Penn State’s Allen Robinson? Can a team slow him down at least? It will be up to Kent State’s secondary — corners Malcolm Pannell and Darius Polk and safeties Keenan Stalls and Luke Wollet — to try. It is the most experienced secondary Penn State has faced yet, as Polk and Wollet are co-captains with more than two seasons worth of starts under their belts. Wollet’s 10 interceptions are tied for ninth in program history.