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PSU game breakdown vs. Syracuse: Lions' offense too strong

August 29, 2013 - Cory Giger
OFFENSE

PSU: Most expect prized freshman Christian Hackenberg to start at QB, but Tyler Ferguson still in the mix. Both likely will play and will have help from RB Zach Zwinak (1,000 yards in 2012), WR Allen Robinson (77 catches) and slew of good TEs.

Syracuse: Orange also keeping starting QB secret as it will be sophomore Terrel Hunt or senior Drew Allen, an Oklahoma transfer who's eligible because he already has his degree. Look for it to be Allen, whose Sooner experience makes him dangerous.

Advantage: Penn State

DEFENSE

PSU: Lions are thin at linebacker, and usually strong D-line has question marks. Secondary is the strength, led by S Adrian Amos. LB Mike Hull is best playmaker in front seven, and DE Deion Barnes hopes to build on strong freshman season.

Syracuse: Has six starters back, including LB Marquis Spruill, who has started 36 games in his career and has 26 ½ tackles for loss. LB Dyshawn Davis also has nose for ball (24 ½ TFLs in career). DT Jay Bromley solid in the trenches.

Advantage: Penn State

SPECIAL TEAMS

PSU: Lions were awful most of last year. PK Sam Ficken started lousy but finished strong in 2012 and made 14-of-21 FGs, although with a long of just 38. Lions need better effort from P Alex Butterworth, who averaged just 37.4 yards per kick.

Syracuse: Senior PK Ross Krautman is one of best in Syracuse history. He's made 48-of-61 FGs (78.7 percent) in his career but was only 15-of-23 last year, with a long of 47. P Jonathan Fisher averaged 38.4 last year. Orange usually solid all around.

Advantage: Syracuse

COACHING/INTANGIBLES

PSU: Bill O'Brien impressed everyone last season, winning national coach of the year. So what can he do as an encore? Fine tune his Xs and Os and game day decisions, plus feel more comfortable in the role as head coach. He should only get better with time.

Syracuse: Scott Shafer is in his first season as a head coach after serving as Syracuse's defensive coordinator the past three years and in the same role at Michigan in 2008. Usually defensive guys don't have great offenses, so that could be the case here.

Advantage: Penn State

PREDICTION

The Lions have some issues on defense, but their multitude of offensive weapons are enough to squeeze the Orange. PSU 30-20

 
 

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