No. 6 Penn State vs. Akron: Nittany Lions look to hit ground running in opener

No. 6 Penn State vs. Akron: Nittany Lions look to hit ground running in opener

No. 6 Penn State vs. Akron
Beaver Stadium, State College, Pennsylvania
Saturday, noon, ABC

Scouting Penn State
The sixth-ranked Nittany Lions, 11-3 and Big Ten champions in 2016, are looking to take another step in James Franklin’s fourth year as head coach. Running back Saquon Barkley, who rushed for 1,496 yards last season, is a preseason All-American and Heisman Trophy candidate. Quarterback Trace McSorley set single-season school records for passing yardage (3,614), touchdowns (29) and total offense (3,979) last season.

In all there are nine returning starters on offense, including tight end Mike Gesicki, who is also a preseason All-American, and left tackle Ryan Bates (Archbishop Wood). While PSU is without cornerback John Reid (St. Joe’s Prep) because of a knee injury, six defensive starters return, notably middle linebacker Jason Cabinda and safety Marcus Allen. Allen topped the team with 110 tackles in 2016, the first player at his position to pace the Lions in that department since 2002.

Scouting Akron
The Zips, coached by former Auburn boss Terry Bowden (son of Bobby), return 15 starters from a team that went 5-7 a year ago. Quarterback Thomas Woodson has started most of the last two years, but missed four games in ’16 because of injury. He wound up completing 60.3 percent of his passes for 2,079 yards and 18 touchdowns, with six interceptions. Van Edwards (492 yards, 4.9 ypc) is the top returning rusher, while Austin Wolf (36 receptions for 550 yards and five TDs) is the leading returning receiver. Tra’Von Chapman, who played QB last year, has moved to wideout. Linebacker Ulysees Gilbert Jr. (122 tackles) is a Bednarik Award candidate.

History
Penn State has won all five meetings, including a 21-3 verdict in 2014, Franklin’s first home game as head coach.

Storyline to watch
Whether the Lions can hit the ground running. They were outscored 223-194 in first halves last season, but outscored their opponents 332-133 in second halves and overtimes.

What’s at stake
PSU has lofty aspirations this season. They can assuage the masses by cuffing around a Mid-American opponent.

Prediction
Penn State 45, Akron 14

Penn State comes up short in overtime

usa-psu-minnesota-basketball.jpg
USA Today Images

Penn State comes up short in overtime

BOX SCORE

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Dupree McBrayer scored 14 of a career-high 24 points in the second half and overtime and Minnesota beat Penn State 95-84 on Monday night.

Nate Mason added 25 points and Jordan Murphy scored 22 and grabbed 19 rebounds for the Golden Gophers (14-6, 3-4 Big Ten) who snapped a three-game losing streak.

Tony Carr scored 33 points, Mike Watkins added 20 and 11 rebounds and Lamar Stevens chipped in 12 for Penn State (13-7, 3-4).

Minnesota made 53 percent of its field goals on 35-for-66 shooting. That included a 10-for-17 pace from 3-point range with three coming in overtime after the Golden Gophers gave up a 13-point lead with 8:56 to play.

McBrayer hit a jumper then to put Minnesota up with its largest lead of the game at 63-50 but Penn State raced back with a 15-2 run. Mike Watkins capped Penn State's surge with his second steal, sprinted the other way for a dunk that tied it 65.

The teams traded baskets down the stretch before Carr sank a 3-pointer with three seconds left to make it 74-all and force overtime.

Big Picture
Minnesota: The Golden Gophers needed some positive energy. Losers of three straight since star Reggie Lynch was suspended and talented sophomore Amir Coffey was hurt, a win to kick off an East Coast road trip featuring three games in six days should boost their morale.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions need Josh Reaves back. They looked listless at points in this one without arguably their most fiery player. Notably, Penn State has allowed nearly 10 more points per game with their best defender suspended for academic reasons.

Up Next
Minnesota travels to Maryland on Thursday.

Penn State travels to Northwestern on Saturday.

Tony Carr saves his best for last in OT

uspresswire-psu-tony-carr.jpg
USA Today Images

Tony Carr saves his best for last in OT

BOX SCORE

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Tony Carr has had some nice second-half efforts lately. Penn State's top shooter saved most of his best stuff for overtime on Friday.

Carr scored nine of his 17 points, including a game-winning long jumper with three seconds left in overtime, and Penn State beat Nebraska 76-74 and secure Pat Chambers' 100th win as Penn State's coach on Friday?night.

Lamar Stevens scored 26 points and Mike Watkins added 20 and grabbed 15 rebounds for the Nittany Lions (13-6, 3-3 Big Ten), who led by as many as 16 in the second half.

But it was Carr, who notched 18 of 28 in the second half at Indiana on Tuesday, who wrestled control back with tough makes through crowds of defenders in the final five minutes.

"Tony had the guts to come out and hit some big shots for us when he didn't have the best shooting night," Chambers said.

When Carr was working to find his shot, Stevens was taking over in a fashion that's become typical for him of late. The hybrid forward entered the game averaging 22 points over the last three.

He quickly kept at it with 10 of Penn State's first 19 points and Penn State closed out the first half on a 21-9 run and led 33-24. Nebraska made just five of its final 14 field goals in that span and finished the first half 9-for-32 from the floor.

"You can't just get blasted in the first half like that," Nebraska coach Tim Miles said. "We have to be more prepared to battle with a guy who's a warrior like that because he just attacks the rim."

Glynn Watson Jr. and Isaac Copeland scored 21 points apiece while Isaiah Roby and Anton Gill scored 12 and 10, respectively, for the Cornhuskers (12-7, 3-3).

Shep Garner made a 3-pointer to give Penn State its largest lead at 42-26 just over two minutes into the second half.

But the Huskers fought back from there and switched to a press look to slow Penn State's offense.

They put together a 39-23 run that included back-to-back 3-pointers from Copeland and Watson that made it a two-point game with?3:28?to play. They combined for four free throws and Watson hit the final shot of regulation moments later to send it to overtime 65-65.

The big picture
Nebraska: The Cornhuskers were on a good stretch with five wins in six tries before?Friday's?game. Runs like that could come more often if they shoot better. Nebraska entered the Bryce Jordan Center shooting just 43 percent from the floor and 36 percent from 3-point range for the season.

Penn State: All three of Penn State's conference losses have come by six or fewer points and although they played a poor-shooting team in this one, the Nittany Lions have enough talent committed to playing defense to keep even good offenses at bay. Whether they can outscore those teams, or hold on to big leads, remains to be seen.

No Reaves
Penn State was again without its top defender as Josh Reaves sat out a second straight game for academic reasons. Reaves leads the team and is 15th nationally with 2.47 steals per game. He's chipped in 10.8 points per game, too.

Awaiting word on Tshimanga
Nebraska was without starting center Jordy Tshimanga, who did not make the trip to Penn State as he mulls whether to transfer. Multiple outlets reported Tshimanga's frustration with the way his season has unfolded.

The 6-foot-11 sophomore started all 18 games previously and was averaging 3.5 points and 5.1 rebounds over 15.2 minutes per game.

Miles said he couldn't offer an update yet on Tshimanga's status.

"I won't know until I get home," he said.

Up next
Nebraska hosts Illinois (10-8, 0-5)?on Monday.

Penn State hosts Minnesota (13-5, 2-3) on Monday.