Another week in the bag, and now Penn State is off on it's first road trip of the season. In Philadelphia to take on the Temple Owls, the Nittany Lions look to rebound from a mediocre performance against a stout Alabama team a week ago. In preparation for the game, here are some aspects of the game to keep an eye on.
1. As goes Bernard Pierce, so go the Temple Owls. Pierce is the main playmaker on the Owls offense, and if the Lions defense can control him, the game should not be in doubt. Penn State held Pierce to just 42 yards on the ground a year ago, but he was able to get into the endzone twice in a game that saw Penn State leading by less than one score heading into the fourth quarter.
2. Once again, a quarterback derby. The unfortunate broken record of Penn State's 2011 season so far has been the steady rotation of quarterback play. Once just the frustration of fans and message board commenters, the players are now chiming in on the lack of offensive identity. Rob Bolden looked better than Matt McGloin against Alabama, but neither looked great. The staff needs to pick a quarterback and play him throughout the game; at the point, the alternative is becoming more and more detrimental to the team.
3. Friendly atmosphere. Though it's technically an away game, Lincoln Financial Field will likely be filled with Penn State fans. Like last year's "away" game against Indiana played in Washington D.C., this game takes place in or near the hometown of numerous Penn State players, including the following:
4. Bounce back with some MACrificies. The next two games on the schedule include Temple and Eastern Michigan. Each is currently 2-0, though EMU figures to be 2-1 next week after a trip to Ann Arbor this weekend. With conference play looming two weeks away, Penn State needs a couple of relatively easier contests to get some of their kinks worked out, including the aforementioned quarterback derby. The wide receivers are having some catchability issues, injuries are concerning on the offensive line, and the defense is ... well, actually the defense is doing pretty well.
5. New blood. Former Temple coach (and former Penn State player) Al Golden is off to Miami, and the new man in town is former Florida Gator coach Steve Addazio. His Owls have beaten their two opponents by the combined score of 83-10, so Addazio is definitely looking to make a statement. Unfortunately for him, Penn State isn't Akron or Villanova - points will be at a premium for the Owls this week.
Some portions of the Penn State fan base are quite concerned over this game; after last week's disappointing loss to Alabama, it's not difficult to see why they are concerned. But this game won't be as close as some are making it out to be. Penn State runs away handily, putting the game away much earlier than it did a year ago.
Final Prediction: Penn State 41, Temple 14