WHEN: Noon, Saturday
WHERE: Beaver Stadium
SERIES: Penn State leads, 4-0
LAST MEETING: Penn State won 31-7 at Beaver Stadium (Sept. 5, 2009)
COACHES: Akron — Terry Bowden, 3rd season, 7-18 (147-80-2 overall); Penn State — James Franklin, first season, 1-0 (25-15) overall
TELEVISION: ABC (commentators: Mike Patrick, Ed Cunningham, Jeannine Edwards)
RADIO: WQWK 1450, WBUS 93.7 (announcers: Steve Jones, Jack Ham, Loren Crispell)
THE SKINNY: Could Penn State be on upset alert in its first home game of the James Franklin era? It would certainly be the definition of an upset if the Zips could find a way to knock off the Nittany Lions, who are two-touchdown favorites. It won’t be easy, especially considering the momentum Penn State is riding after beating Central Florida in an emotional, come-from-behind win in Ireland. Akron has a handful of returning starters and easily dispatched FCS foe Howard in Week 1. The Zips will have a much tougher test in Beaver Stadium, where the scoreboards will be brand new and the atmosphere could be dampened by looming thunderstorms. Penn State hasn’t lost to a Mid-American Conference team since its defeat at the hands of Ohio in Bill O’Brien’s first game two years ago. This game could be over early, however Akron could hang around and make it interesting.
AKRON PLAYER TO WATCH: Defensive end Nordly Capi had a really good season at Colorado State in 2011, where he was an honorable mention All-America selection by Sports Illustrated. He transferred to Akron and sat out the 2012 season. It took Capi some time to get back to where he was, however, and he finished 2013 with just two sacks despite playing all 12 games. Franklin said Capi has stood out on film and looks to be back in 2011 form. He already has half his sack total from last season as he notched one against Howard in Week 1.
PENN STATE PLAYER TO WATCH: DaeSean Hamilton was electric at times against Central Florida and set freshman records for catches and yards against a surprisingly leaky Knights secondary. Akron’s secondary has three new starters and Hamilton could already be in line to break his own marks.
KEY MATCHUP: Akron’s green secondary must find a way to slow the Penn State passing game. That might not be a realistic expectation, so the Zips’ defensive linemen must get the job done. If they can’t outplay Penn State’s offensive line and put Christian Hackenberg down or at least hurry his throws and make him uncomfortable, this game could be over quickly.