MATCHUP: Oregon State at Penn State

A SUSPECT RUSHING DEFENSE was on display last week in Palo Alto and if Oregon State hopes to keep the game close the defensive line must stop a bruising Penn State running game that racked up 334 yards and seven touchdowns against Coastal Carolina. BF.C takes a closer look at Week Two, position by position.


Nittany Lion

The Penn State offensive line, led by C A.Q. Shipley a Lombardi, Outland and Rimington candidate and senior OG Rich Ohrnberger, helped generate 594 total yards, the most yardage for the Nittany Lions since 1995, and did not yield a sack a week ago, but it was against Coastal Carolina.  The Beaver offensive line helped produce 490 total yards of offense against a far superior opponent in Stanford while yielding just two sacks in 54 passing attempts.  OT Andy Levitre, an Outland Trophy contender, is the Beavers best offensive lineman although OG Jeremy Perry, an aggressive run blocking specialist and Outland Trophy candidate, could return to action this week.


In his first start senior Daryll Clark completed 11 of 14 for 146 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions, but once again, it was against Costal Carolina.  OSU QB Lyle Moevao threw for 404 yards, the ninth most in school history, and three touchdowns, but had two interceptions including one that was taken back for six.  Moevao has more experience and with junior Sean Canfield making the trip OSU gets some veteran depth back on the two deeps.  OSU gets the nod here.


Oregon State managed just 86 total yards last week with true freshman Jacquizz Rodgers getting most of the work carrying the ball 10 times for 54 yards.  Starter r,edshirt freshman Ryan McCants, had just four carries, but his smash mouth running style is more suited for Big 10 play and he should see more carries this Saturday.  Three Nittany Lion running backs ran for 60 yards or more la week ago.  Sophomore starter Evan Royster scored three touchdowns on just eight carries while redshirt freshman Stephfon Green led all rushers with 89 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries.  Both teams have young backfields, but PSU's is deeper and perhaps more talented.

Neither teams tight ends were productive offensively last week as the Beavers' John Reese had the only reception for the Beaver tight ends and Penn State had only two completions to their tight ends for 17 yards.  Oregon State has plenty of experienced depth and talent at tight end and the unit could see a lot more passes come their way this Saturday as Mike Riley and company open up the playbook.

Senior Jordan Norwood led all Penn State receivers in catches and yardage last week grabbing four passes for 74 yards and one touchdown.  But the star of the blue and white receivers is senior Derrick Williams a Maxwell Award candidate who is used much like Oregon State uses Sammie Stroughter.  Last week Stroughter and senior Shane Morales combined for 25 catches for 306 yards and three touchdowns.  James Rodgers is downright deadly on the fly sweep and racked up 247 all purpose yards.  Both teams field talented squads, but overall the Beaver receivers are more explosive.



Nittany Lion

The black and orange defensive line struggled against an experienced Stanford offensive line last week giving up 210 yards on the ground.  Senior DE Victor Butler is the star of the line as he has 14 career sacks, tied for seventh on OSU's all time list.  The defensive tackles must improve greatly if the Beavers hope to slow down the PSU running game.  Junior DE Maurice Evans, a Bednarik, Lombardi and Nagurski candidate, headlines the PSU defensive line which yielded just 52 yards and zero touchdowns a week ago.  He did not record a sack last week, but grabbed 12.5 and 21.5 tackles for loss in 2007.


Senior Tyrell Sales led the defense in tackles last weekend grabbing seven stops and forcing one fumble.  He is joined by junior Josh Hull, who grabbed a starting spot after All-American candidate Sean Lee suffered a season ending knee injury in the spring, and sophomore Bani Gbadyu, who grabbed an interception against CC last week.  OSU is led by junior Keaton Kristick, a hard hitter with good range, sophomore Keith Pankey, the son of former PSU All-American Irv Pankey, and senior Bryant Cornell, the team's leading tackler with 11 stops.  Penn State is known as "Linebacker U" and out of respect for that label and the still developing Beaver linebackers, the edge goes to the blue and white although OSU has some pretty good linebackers as well.


Thankfully for the Beavers safety Al Afalava, one of the nation's hardest hitters, returns to the lineup after missing the first game of the season.  He is joined by senior cornerbacks Keenan Lewis and Brandon Hughes - two physical, experienced players who have been starters since freshmen.  Senior Greg Laybourn, a former walk-on, rounds out an excellent secondary which gave up just 91 passing yards against Stanford.  S Anthony Scirrotto leads an all senior Nittany Lion backfield that surrendered 198 passing yards versus Coastal Carolina.

S. Teams COMMENTS S. Teams

PSU kicker Kevin Kelly, a Lou Groza Award candidate, is a little bit like Alexis Serna.  He owns the school's career scoring (317), career field goals (59) and career field goals attempted (84) records.  Junior punter Jeremy Boone earned first team All-Big-10 honors a year ago and punted just one time for 46 yards last week.  Oregon State is still breaking in their new kicker Justin Kahut and punter Johnny Hekker.  Kahut connected on both of his field goal attempts (27,23) last week while Hekker had his first punt partially blocked while averaging 32 yards per boot.  Each team has explosive kickoff (Williams for PSU, James Rodgers for OSU) and punt returners (Stroughter for OSU, Williams for PSU), but Penn State clearly has the edge with their kicker and punter.



Nittany Lion

Having 107,000 plus fervent fans on your side is always a good thing, couple that with a coach that is poised to become the winningest coach in college football history along with the fact that Penn State has won 21 of their last 23 in Beaver Stadium and almost all of the intangibles are in favor of the Nittany Lions. But, Oregon State has nothing to lose and the last time they squared off against a ranked opponent on a Saturday they almost knocked off the defending champions in their own stadium.  Plus, the forecast calls for rain Saturday.


Sorry Beaver Nation:
Penn State 34, Oregon State 22

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