You can catch up on a more in-depth preview over at Black Shoe Diaries, but here are a few specific items to keep an eye on, in addition to Penn State hopefully running up the score and stretching its legs after a long summer break.
1. The quarterback drama...again. The storyline that has seemingly dominated the Penn State news feed for going on 14 months really isn't any closer to an end than it was at the beginning of last year. We've been told that Penn State will use both Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin in this warmup game, with Bolden earning the official start. However, how much time and in what rotation each will be used are questions that remain. With Alabama looming a week away, there isn't much time to wait around. Numerous players have made comments recently about the quarterback choice, echoing fan sentiment that the staff should make their choice and stick with it.
2. The running game. Silas Redd is the starter, Stephfon Green is in the doghouse, and Michael Zordich will be a beast on short yardage and goal line situations at fullback. What about the rest? Well, the rest (not counting Joe Suhey, the pass-catching fullback) means Brandon Beachum and Curtis Dukes. Beachum missed all of last year with injury and Dukes has yet to live up to his "bruiser" hype, but each should see some action in this matchup. Beachum looks to be the lead counterpart to Redd, but Dukes could push Zordich for some of those short yardage carries.
3. Where applicable, the receivers (/swoon). Potentially the best unit of the Penn State offense, and one of the best receiving corps in the conference, the Lions are loaded at wideout and slot. Justin Brown, Derek Moye and Devon Smith are the likely starters, but expect to see healthy doses of Shawney Kersey, Brandon Moseby-Felder, and tight ends Kevin Haplea and Andrew Szczerba (if he can stay healthy).
4. Line play. Offensively, the Lions replace two starters, and it looks like some familiar faces will line up against ISU. Chima Okoli and Quinn Barham will be your starting tackles, with Matt Stankiewitch maintaining a slight lead over at least three other centers. At guard, Johnnie Troutman and DeOn'tae Pannell are the likely starters, with Jon Urschel set to relieve either. Defensively, Larry Johnson, Sr. is looking to some younger players to push the seniors on the team to their full potential. Outside, Jack Crawford and Eric Latimore will get the start, with Kyle Baublitz and C.J. Olaniyan rotating frequently. Inside, the anchor of the line, Devon Still, will lead Jordan Hill and DaQuan Jones, among others.
5. Return of Linebacker U. 2010's linebacker play was mediocre, at best. Let's leave discussion of it in the past. This year, every member of the two-deep at linebacker is a stud, and expectations are very high in Happy Valley for this group once again. Gerald Hodges, Glenn Carson, and Mike Mauti will start, with Mike Hull, Khairi Fortt, and Nate Stupar right behind them. They will need to be in peak physical and athletic condition with Trent Richardson and Alabama coming to town next week.
6. Strong secondary. All four secondary starters return, as well as two others that have seen significant playing time. Nick Sukay and Drew Astorino will once again man the safety positions, and D'Anton Lynn has locked down one of the corners. The other cornerback spot will likely go to Chaz Powell, though Stephon Morris will see time as well. Malcolm Willis is another safety that should see some key minutes, after an impressive end of 2010 when Sukay went down with a torn pectoral muscle.
PREDICTION: The line is set at PSU (-37), and what many expect to be a limited playbook, the Lions will open it up and score from all over the field. Penn State wins, 49-10.