Penn State (0-1) at Virginia (1-0)|
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 8, 12:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Scott Stadium (61,500) -- Charlottesville, Virginia.
Television: ABC. Home Record: PSU 0-1, UVa 1-0. Away Record: PSU 0-0, UVa 0-0.
Neutral Record: PSU 0-0, UVa 0-0. Conference Record: PSU 0-0, UVa 0-0. Series
Record: Penn State leads, 5-2.
GAME NOTES: Bill O'Brien seeks his first win as Penn State's head coach when
his Nittany Lions invade Scott Stadium to take on the Virginia Cavaliers in a
non-conference duel in Charlottesville this weekend.
The Nittany Lions saw a 14-3 halftime lead over Ohio University slip through
their fingers as they fell, 24-14, to the Bobcats in their opener at Beaver
Stadium. O'Brien and seven new assistants will try to turn things around this
week. Although PSU's loss in the emotional first game back was its first to
Ohio, the Bobcats have improved into a difficult opponent over the past few
seasons. O'Brien's challenge of keeping the program afloat while it serves its
four-year postseason ban will continue with its second straight game versus a
team that appeared in a bowl game last year.
Virginia kicked off its season with a 43-19 rout of instate rival Richmond at
home. The victory over his former employer made head coach Mike London's
record with the UVa an even 13-13 and improved his record in season openers to
5-0 for his career. London was named the 2011 ACC Coach of the Year after
leading the Cavaliers to an 8-4 regular season record. Last season, Scott
Stadium was not a huge homefield advantage for Virginia, which returned 14
starters, as it went 4-3 on its own turf.
This will be the seventh encounter between PSU and Virginia. The Nittany Lions
hold a 4-2 lead in the all-time series after their dominant, 35-14, victory
over the Cavaliers in 2002 in Happy Valley.
O'Brien's presence on the sideline has had a positive effect on several
Nittany Lions, including starting quarterback Matt McGloin, who set a new
career-high of 27 completions on 48 attempts, for 260 yards and two scores. It
did not take very long to discover PSU's new offensive system favors the pass
much more than in previous seasons, as McGloin's 26 attempts in the first half
were the most since Zack Mills against Purdue in 2004.
Sophomore wideout Allen Robinson benefited from the emphasis on the aerial
attack and led all Big Ten receivers with a career-high nine catches, which he
took for 97 yards. Redshirt freshman tight end Kyle Carter made an excellent
first impression in his debut, as he was second on the team with six grabs for
Silas Redd's preseason departure for Southern California left the tailback
position up for grabs. Bill Belton led the team with 53 yards on 13 carries,
while Derek Day rushed for 36 yards on eight touches.
PSU's defense held Ohio to just three points in the opening half, but it could
not stop Bobcats' QB Tyler Tettleton in the final two quarters. Tettleton
finished sixth in the nation in week one with 371 yards of total offense,
while Beau Blankenship tacked on 109 rushing yards on the Nittany Lions.
In their opener, linebacker Michael Mauti led PSU with 12 stops, Gerald Hodges
recorded 11 tackles, and sophomore cornerback Adrian Amos had a career-best
Virginia's Michael Rocco nearly went to Penn State, where his father Frank was
the starting quarterback on the 1982 National Championship team and both of
his uncles played. Instead, he ended up in Charlottesville and has done quite
well so far. Rocco set the school record for most passing yards by a sophomore
last year and kicked off 2012 by completing 25-of-37 passes for 311 yards and
Rocco's strong showing in the opener helped UVa compile 545 yards of total
offense. Senior wideout Tim Smith (96 yards, six catches) was the top
target, while big play threat Darius Jennings (84 yards, TD, five catches)
made his mark as well.
Running back Kevin Parks also stepped up with two rushing touchdowns against
the Spiders. Perry Jones and Khalek Shepherd tied for the team-lead as they
each ran for 52 yards and a touchdown. Jones led the team with 1,468 all-
purpose yards in 2011.
UVa's defense stifled its FCS opponent in week one, allowing the Spiders to
gain just 28 rushing yards and 266 total yards. Virginia was a better than
average at stopping its opponents in 2011, ranking 46th nationally in scoring
defense (23.9) and 40th in total defense (351.7).
The Cavaliers returned a strong linebacking duo in Steve Greer and LaRoy
Reynolds. Greer was the team's leading tackler in two of the last three
seasons and Reynolds had 88 stops in 2011. Greer recorded four tackles, one of
which was for loss, in the opener.
Sophomore cornerback Demetrious Nicholson is a key player in UVa's defensive
backfield, which has no seniors.
The Nittany Lions showed their ability to move the ball early on against Ohio
before being shut down in the second half. PSU needs to exploit the Cavaliers'
inexperienced secondary to put pressure on Rocco and UVa's offense. The
players left on the Nittany Lions' roster are going to give Virginia their
best, but it might not be enough to get O'Brien his first win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Virginia 28, Penn State 20
09/05 15:49:11 ET