Big Ten Penn State shouldn't have any trouble with visiting Mid-American Conference Buffalo, but the way the Lions played in Week 1 nothing is certain. PSU is -20.5 odds with a total of 49.5.
Temple Ends 74-Year Drought
I would argue the most surprising result in the nation in Week 1 was Penn State losing 27-10 at Temple. It was the Owls' first win over the Nittany Lions in 74 years. I mean, everyone was pretty high on the Pen State program entering this season. Coach James Franklin is one of the best in the business and he had brought in some very good recruiting classes. PSU also had NCAA sanctions finally off the program and welcomed back a potential NFL first-round pick at quarterback in Christian Hackenberg.
I didn't expect Penn State to take the Big Ten title or anything but win at least eight games. Maybe they still will, but the Lions looked awful against Temple. Penn State was 38-0-1 since 1941 against Temple with a 7-7 tie in 1950 the only time the Owls played without a loss. Hackenberg was a wretched 11-for-25 for 103 yards with a pick on Saturday, getting sacked 10 times. The lone touchdown came courtesy of running back Akeel Lynch, who rushed 10 times for 78 yards and that score. PSU had just 180 total yards, nine first downs and was 2-for-13 on third down. Temple had 313 yards and held the ball for 36:15. Penn State scored on its first two possessions but then not again.
For some reason, Franklin had his starting QB in the game at the end when obviously Penn State wasn't going to win. Hackenberg was sacked by Tyler Matakevich and Nate D. Smith with less than two minutes remaining.
"I think it's a message. It's no different than calling timeouts at the end of the game when the game was sometimes decided. I think you keep playing," Franklin said of his decision. "... Obviously, we didn't think he was going to get sacked again."
The offensive line was a major problem last year as well. Junior college transfer Paris Palmer, who started at left tackle, really showed his inexperience against Temple. Yes, the Owls brought back 11 defensive starters, but still!
The defeat was made worse with the season-ending injury suffered by linebacker Nyeem Wartman-White. He ended the 2014 campaign as the team's second-leading tackler behind All-American Mike Hull. Wartman-White's 75 tackles more than doubled his previous career high.
Leipold Era Off To Winning Start
Buffalo opened the season with a 51-14 win over FCS school Albany in Lance Leipold's first game as the Bulls' coach. He was hired last season from Division III Wisconsin-Whitewater, which he led to six DIII national titles (and only six total losses) in his eight seasons. Leipold replaced Jeff Quinn, who was fired after four-plus seasons.
Quarterback Joe Licata threw for 246 yards and two touchdowns against Albany, while Anthone Taylor ran for 104 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Jacob Martinez returned a punt 86 yards for a touchdown. It was the first punt returned for a TD by Buffalo since Andre Forde had an 83-yard punt return against Lehigh on Aug. 29, 2002. It was a span of 154 games and ended the longest drought in the FBS. The 51 points scored were the most by a UB team in a season opener in school history.
Licata has thrown a touchdown pass in 13 straight games and 27 of the 29 games he has started in his career. His 29 touchdowns last season led the MAC and were a single-season school record. Taylor is 74 yards shy of becoming just the sixth running back in school history to reach 2,000 yards. He would be just the third player in the school's FBS era, joining NFL players Branden Oliver and James Starks.
A win here would be the biggest in school history or Buffalo. Since joining the FBS ranks in 1999, the Bulls are 1-24 all time against opponents from Power 5 conferences. UB's lone victory was a 34-11 win at Rutgers in 2002. Buffalo is 1-1 all-time against Penn State, winning 10-0 in 1900 and losing 45-24 in 2007.
NCAAF Free Picks
This starts a string of five home games for Penn State, which hasn't happened since 1922. I have a feeling that Franklin will have his guys' full attention this week in practice. Give the points and go 'over' the total with your college football picks PSU has covered four straight vs. the MAC. The 'over' is 9-1in Buffalo's past 10 non-conference games. The 'over' is 4-1 in Penn State's past five at home.
College Football Pick: Penn State & 'Over'