By Andre Monroe
STATE COLLEGE – The No. 14 Penn State Nittany Lions return to Beaver Stadium this Saturday to take on the Central Michigan Chippewas. The game is set for a noon kickoff and aired on the Big Ten Network. This will be the first meeting between these teams since 2005. That game saw Penn State win convincingly, 40-3.
The Nittany Lions are coming off their biggest win this season from an emotional standpoint. They won in a road blowout against Auburn, breaking multiple records. Against Auburn, Penn State became the first Big Ten school to sweep a home-home series against an SEC opponent since 2012. The running game for Penn State stuck out like a sore thumb in a game that saw great play all around. This success should continue against a weak Central Michigan defense.
Making the case for Penn State
The Nittany Lions are on fire. Since the heroic game-winning drive against Purdue, they’ve dominated their opponents for all eight quarters. What’s more impressive is the many ways they’ve done it. For a team that’s been labeled one-dimensional in recent years, it’s been quite the sight to see.
On the ground, they’ve imposed their will. Freshman RB Nicholas Singleton has recorded 334 rushing yards in his first three games. That is the most since Larry Johnson’s 362 in 2002. Against Auburn, they recorded five rushing TDs, the most since the Cotton Bowl against Memphis in 2019. These statistics are not trivial considering that this program has seen the likes of Miles Sanders, Saquon Barkley, and Journey Brown in recent years. The sight of Nick Singleton should scare the defense of Central Michigan. They play at a slow pace, and Nick Singleton’s speed kills. I expect history to repeat itself, and if it does, Nick Singleton should have yet another big game.
Disruptive is an understatement when describing Penn State’s defense against Auburn. The defense forced two fumbles and two interceptions, in addition to 11 tackles for loss and six sacks. I expect this to continue as the emergence of Chop Robinson and Abdul Carter has become exceedingly apparent as of late.
Making the case for Central Michigan
Central Michigan’s offense is their strong suit. RB Lew Nichols led the nation in rushing yards last season with 1,848. He currently sits seventh in the FBS with five TDs. Nichols is coming off of a performance against Bucknell where he had 166 yards and 2 TDs, on 30 carries. Penn State is coming off a matchup against another great RB in Auburn’s Tank Bigsby, but he didn’t get anywhere close to 30 carries. If Central Michigan is adamant about pounding the ball, they may be able to wear out a Penn State defense that some say have yet to be challenged.
Like Purdue QB Aiden O’Connel, CMU QB Daniel Richardson loves getting the ball out fast. This could prove to be an excellent counter to an aggressive Penn State defense. Richardson is coming off a 198-yard, 2 TD passing performance. Richardson doesn’t lack playmakers either. Joel Wilson, who leads CMU in receptions, has been a safety net for Daniel Richardson and is a big physical target.
Their defense is a weakness, but if they happen to light up the scoreboard, they could steal a win in Happy Valley.
Final Prediction: Penn State 41, Central Michigan 17
Andre Monroe covers Penn State Football for Insider Institute. Follow him on Twitter @amonroe_ and Contact him at email@example.com.