Georgia State Panthers vs. Penn State Nittany Lions
Date and Time: Saturday, September 16, 2017, 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA
Opening College Football Odds: Penn State -38.5
Georgia State vs. Penn State TV Coverage: Big Ten Network
We don't often learn a lot about these early-season games between FBS and FCS schools. We certainly learned a lot about Georgia State on the opening night of the season against Tennessee State.
Sure, the Tigers are going to be good this season, but there's no excuse for running the ball 29 times for 49 yards against any FCS team. The Panthers were bad in the trenches last season, but the hope that came with returning four starting offensive linemen was evident at the outset of the year. But to be dominated like that by an FCS school in the first week of the stadium under the lights at a brand new stadium that used to be a baseball stadium? That's a lot to try to get over.
Penn State has no such problem this year. The Nittany Lions might have lost the Rose Bowl last year, but you wouldn't know that they've had any hangover. Sure, Penn State didn't end up covering against Pittsburgh in a 33-14 victory in University Park last week, but the team has put together two really impressive wins to start off the season and certainly looks ready for the upcoming Big Ten campaign.
Saquon Barkley is making a strong early-season case for the Heisman Trophy. Barkley has rumbled for nearly 3,000 yards already in his career, including 260 this season. But what's really making Barkley dangerous is his ability to make big plays in both the rushing game and the passing game. He both ran for a touchdown and rushed for one against Pittsburgh last week, and he could be a huge threat early in this game as well before things somewhat inevitably get out of hand and he's rested in the second half.
The biggest question we're going to have for the Panthers is whether they really have the desire here to go against a big, physical and well-coached Penn State outfit.
Shawn Elliott is still working to implement a new offensive scheme with Georgia State, and it's clear after Week 1 that it isn't working. Still, we have to imagine that the two and a half weeks to step backwards, take a deep breath and get back to work will help this unit build a bit of an identity.
It's going to start by getting off to a better start than what happened against Tennessee State. Georgia State didn't have a single thing go right offensively for a sustained period of time until the fourth quarter, and by then, it was too late to catch up to a team that had played incredibly well on the defensive side of the ball.
Taz Bateman needs some help. He ran for 31 yards on 11 carries, and he led the team with six receptions for 74 yards and a touchdown. Someone else has to help rack up some yards for this offense to be success in Happy Valley.
Georgia State vs. Penn State Free Picks
We're not really sure what Georgia State is made of at this point, but we're going to find out. Penn State has legitimately been one of the best teams in America, and anyone who watched that game against Pitt knows that the Nittany Lions looked like the real deal in front of a great crowd at Beaver Stadium.
But what we do know is that this is a lot of points to play against a team that has 15 returning starters from last season, has a slew of senior leadership and has a lot to prove after getting beaten up by an FCS team in its last showing. Shop around and find the most points you can at your favorite sportsbook.
College Football ATS Pick: Play Georgia State at BookMaker.eu
College Football Score Prediction: Penn State 31, Georgia State 13