UCF (2-0) at Penn State (2-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 14, 6 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Beaver Stadium (106,572) -- University Park, Pennsylvania. Television: Big Ten Network. Home Record: UCF 1-0, PSU 1-0. Away Record: UCF 1-0, PSU 0-0. Neutral Record: UCF 0-0, PSU 1-0. Conference Record: UCF 0-0, PSU 0-0. Series Record: PSU leads, 2-0.
GAME NOTES: A couple of unbeaten teams are set to square off at Beaver Stadium, as the Penn State Nittany Lions host the Knights of UCF in non- league action.
Penn State is seeking its fifth straight victory dating back to last season after taking down Eastern Michigan this past week, 45-7. This will be the second in a stretch of three straight home games for the Nittany Lions, who will then have a bye on Sept. 28 leading into their Big Ten opener at Indiana the following week.
UCF is playing its first Saturday game of the season and is seeking its first 3-0 start since 1988. The Knights improved to 2-0 with Friday's 38-0 shutout victory at FIU. Another win here would give the Knights their first 3-0 start since 1988, which was before they were at the FBS level.
PSU won both prior meetings in the all-time series with UCF. These teams will meet again Aug. 30, 2014 in the Croke Park Classic in Dublin, Ireland.
UCF scored 38 points in each of its first two games. Running back Storm Johnson has been a spark plug, having accumulated 229 all-purpose yards (188 rushing) and five of the team's 10 touchdowns on the season. Three of those touchdowns came against FIU, as Johnson carried 18 times for 89 yards and also added a pair of receptions for 39 yards. Blake Bortles completed 12-of-19 passes for 214 yards and a touchdown in that game. Rannell Hall paced the receiving corps with 127 yards on four catches. The Knights posted a rather pedestrian 16 first downs, but four rushing scores inflicted plenty of damage on the scoreboard.
The Knights' shutout was their first since blanking Memphis 41-0 on Oct. 29, 2011. It also marked the first time since the 2011 season that they held an opponent under 200 yards of total offense, as FIU managed only 173 yards and an average of 3.0 per play. FIU was also limited to a 3-of-15 success rate on third downs.
Seven different players recorded tackles behind the line of scrimmage for UCF, while Terrance Plummer paced the team with seven tackles, all of the solo variety. In their season-opening victory, the Knights held Akron to only 15 first downs and 250 total yards.
Penn State's Christian Hackenberg broke the school's freshman single-game passing record with 311 yards on 23-of-33 accuracy against EMU. He completed passes to nine different receivers, finishing the day with one touchdown and one interception. Although Hackenberg distributed the ball around, he still was in sync with his favorite target in Allen Robinson, who caught seven passes for 129 yards and a score. It was the second straight 100-yard receiving game to start the season for the junior wideout.
In the backfield, Bill Belton (108 yds, 2 TD), Akeel Lynch (108 yds, 1 TD) and Zach Zwinak (43 yds, 2 TD) all contributed. Belton and Lynch were the first PSU running backs to eclipse 100 yards in the same game since Evan Royster and Silas Redd in 2010.
Of course, the Nittany Lions also had plenty of reason to feel good about the defense, too. After all, they held EMU to a mere 183 total yards, the fewest yards PSU has allowed against an FBS opponent since holding Minnesota to 138 yards in 2009. In fact, the Eagles' only points of the game came on a defensive touchdown, and they managed only 44 yards in the second half against Penn State. The Eagles went three-and-out on five of their final seven possessions. Linebacker Glenn Carson and defensive tackle DaQuan Jones headlined the stifling performance for the Blue and White. Carson registered a game-high 10 tackles, while Jones chipped in with nine stops, including two for negative yardage.
The Knights have looked sharp on both sides of the ball in the early going, but they face a difficult test playing on the road against a Penn State team that has been even more impressive. Look for Hackenberg and company to pull away in the second half.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Penn State 37, UCF 20
09/11 10:34:27 ET