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at Penn State 34 … Eastern Michigan 6

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Sep 24, 2011


Week 4 CFN Fearless Prediction & Game Story - Eastern Michigan at Penn State


2011 Predictions & Game Story 

Week 4 - EMU at Penn State

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Sept. 24 at Penn State 34 … Eastern Michigan 6
CFN Analysis: The game couldn’t possibly be more disastrous. On the plus side, the Nittany Lions desperately needed a tune-up game after struggling so much against Temple, and the passing game clicked with Matt McGloin hitting 14-of-17 passes for 220 yards and three scores, but D'Anton Lynn was carted off the field with an apparent neck injury, and Michael Mauti, who had the look of an All-America candidate over the first part of the season, suffered a torn ACL. The team can’t afford to lose top defenders, considering the problems on offense, and the last thing the Nittany Lions could handle was losing Mauti going into Big Ten play. Fortunately, Indiana is up first to try to rebuild before getting Iowa at home. Can the offense start to pick up the defense? After the way the passing game worked against EMU, maybe.
Eastern Michigan wasn’t expected to have any sort of a shot against Penn State, but at least Alex Gillett and the passing game kept pushing. The offense could only manage two garbage time field goals and turned the ball over three times, and while there wasn’t any running game, Gillett did manage to move the chains a little bit. That’s small consolation for a second straight blowout win, but the Eagles do look far better than they did last year. It’ll have to prove that against an awful Akron team next week.

(AP) STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Matt McGloin threw for three touchdowns and Penn State welcomed coach Joe Paterno back to the sideline with a 34-6 win Saturday over Eastern Michigan.

Penn State (3-1) held the Eagles (2-2) to 68 on the ground -- 221 below its season average -- and forced three first-half turnovers. Nick Sukay's interception late in the half set up the second of McGloin's scoring strikes, a 5-yarder to receiver Derek Moye for a 17-0 lead.

It surely pleased the 84-year-old Paterno, who paced the sideline in the first half for the first time this season before returning to the press box after halftime with his team up comfortably. The Hall of Famer spent the first three games entirely upstairs while recovering from injuries suffered from an accidental collision in practice Aug. 7.

The defense contained Eastern Michigan, though the injury news wasn't good on the field for Penn State. Linebacker Michael Mauti, the team's leading tackler, limped into the locker room in the first quarter with an ice pack strapped to his left knee.

Later, Paterno said Mauti was likely out for the year after injuring his ACL.

The announced crowd of 95,000 at Beaver Stadium went silent while trainers looked at cornerback D'Anton Lynn's neck and upper back late in the third quarter. Lynn was strapped to a backboard as a precaution and carted off the field late in the third quarter. A team spokesman said Lynn had movement in his extremities and was taken to Mount Nittany Medical Center.

It dampened the mood late in what had been a nice afternoon for the Nittany Lions. "I feel sorry for the kids," Paterno said. "It does take a little out of the win, but that's the way it goes.

Wearing his familiar khakis and jet-black sneakers, Paterno looked back in his element Saturday as he paced the sideline slowly and found coaches or players to pester.

There wasn't much to complain about in the end. Whether Paterno was upstairs or on the field, his Nittany Lions flustered Eastern Michigan. The Eagles were held to two field goals by Kody Fulkerson.

Defensive tackle Devon Still led the push up front and Penn State sacked Eastern Michigan quarterback Alex Gillett three times alone in the first half. The opportunistic defense held tailback Javonti Greene to nine carries for 22 yards, more than 90 below his season average.

It was more than enough cushion to give Penn State's struggling passing game and two-quarterback system a chance to get back on track. The Nittany Lions scored through the air for the first time all season, and both McGloin and sophomore Rob Bolden got in on the fun.

Bolden started the game. He finished 7 of 13 passing for 115 yards an interception, plus a screen to speedy receiver Devon Smith that turned into a 71-yard touchdown pass for a 24-0 lead a minute into the second half. It was Smith who accidentally ran into Paterno after running a route in practice to give the head coach his latest ailments.

Saturday, Smith impressed his coach after finishing with three catches for 104 yards.

Moye finished with six catches for 65 yards and two scores. Both were from McGloin, who was 14 of 17 passing for 220 yards after entering in the second quarter. He and Bolden alternated from there until third-stringer Shane McGregor took over in the fourth quarter with Penn State up by 28 points.

Not only did McGloin have the better day statistically, but the offense seemed to run smoother Saturday with the junior calling the signals.

Gillett didn't have as good a time, though he did have Eastern Michigan moving at times through the air. That was a mild surprise given Eastern Michigan had the sixth-best rushing attack in the FBS entering Saturday.

Gillett finished 18 of 31 passing for 202 yards, and ran for 22 yards on 15 carries. The Eagles finally got on the board with 11:50 left on Fulkerson's 21-yard field goal.

Eastern Michigan (2-1) at Penn State (2-1) Sept. 24, 12:00, ESPN2/ESPN3

Here’s The Deal … Eastern Michigan has had a hard time coming up with wins over its long and painful history, and it’s a Blutosky-like 0.0 against BCS conference teams – 2000 UConn doesn’t count. Penn State hasn’t been above the stunning gaffe – like losing to Toledo in 2000 – but it generally gets through mediocre non-conference matchups without a problem. Last week was a problem.

Penn State could’ve and should’ve lost to Temple, but it managed to do just enough late to pull out the ugly 14-10 win. Big Ten play kicks off next week at Indiana, followed up by home games against Iowa and Purdue, for a slate that’s breezy enough to demand 8-1 before finishing up with Nebraska, at Ohio State, and at Wisconsin. First, the team has to flex a little muscle against the awful Eagles.

EMU started out 2-0 against Howard and Alabama State, but reality set in against Michigan in a 31-3 loss. Next week’s MAC opener against Akron is winnable, and if Penn State plays like it did in Philly, the outside chance – way outside - is there to pull off a shocker this week.

Why Eastern Michigan Might Win: So what went so wrong for Penn State against Temple? The pass defense did its job, and the run defense allowed just 74 yards, but the Nittany Lion offense couldn’t come up with the key play at the key time until late. They shot themselves in the foot time and again with penalties and misfires, and EMU has to hope for the same lack of production.

It also helped that Temple applied steady pressure and threw off the timing of the Nittany Lion attack early on. Eastern Michigan hasn’t had any problems getting into the backfield so far, ranking first among MAC teams and fifth in the nation in tackles for loss, while cranking out ten sacks in the first three games. However …

Why Penn State Might Win: Eight of the sacks came against Alabama State and just four of the 28 tackles for loss came against Michigan. The EMU offense has been awful, completing just 3-of-6 passes for 29 yards with a pick last week against Michigan, while connecting on just 7-of-19 passes for 61 yards against Alabama State. The running game has been solid, but there’s no potential whatsoever to mount any sort of a comeback if Penn State gets up early.

Consider it a major achievement if EMU comes up with more than 100 yards through the air. Penn State is seventh in the nation in pass defense and has been a rock in all phases, even against Alabama, getting tremendous production out of a linebacking corps that should hold EMU’s running quarterback Alex Gillett in check. 14 points was enough to beat Temple, and that should more than do the job against the Eagles.

What To Watch Out For: So now what for the Penn State quarterback situation?

Against Alabama, Matt McGloin couldn’t hit a Penn State receiver if he was standing on him, but last week he connected on 13-of-19 passes for 124 yards against Temple. Rob Bolden looked like the better option against Bama, got his shot against Temple, and stunk, completing 9-of-18 passes for 92 yards with a pick. Joe Paterno hasn’t been able to stick with just one guy, because neither one has been able to take the job by the horns. If the nation’s 115th most efficient passing game doesn’t start to produce against a defense like Eastern Michigan’s, it never will.

The Eagles are getting a whale of a start from Justin Cudworth, a JUCO transfer who has done everything at linebacker making 28 tackles with six tackles for loss and a sack in the first three games. The 5-11, 217-pounder made 47 tackles and 5.5 sacks last year for College of the Canyons, and he has been everything needed and more. He’ll have to be all over the field like he was last week against Michigan, making nine tackles with a tackle for loss.

What Will Happen: Penn State will win without a sweat, but it still won’t look quite as impressive as it probably should. The defense will put this away instantly, but the passing game will still sputter and cough way too much to inspire any confidence.

CFN Prediction: Penn State 38 … Eastern Michigan 6
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