"Penn State 21, Central Florida 20:
As much as people want to focus on Penn State’s rebuilt O-line, the Knights have some gigantic shoes
to fill on offense, too. I see something of a defensive struggle here, with the Nittany Lions
winning on a late Sam O’Ficken field goal. To get there it’ll be FG, TD, FG, FG, Safety, FG."
-- Mark Brennan, mxbscout
"Central Florida 24, Penn State 20:
It took a near-perfect performance from Blake Bortles for UCF to win at Penn State last year.
Bortles is gone, and that should give the Penn State defense a chance to force errors from first-
time starter Pete DiNovo. However, the UCF defense looks stout and that will spell trouble for the
Lion offense. UCF gets a late interception to thwart the Penn State comeback attempt."
-- Scott Cole, PSU96
"Penn State 24, Central Florida 20:
In a tight ball game, the defenses slug it out a bit vs. some rusty and or new offenses. I have the faith that Coach Franklin, being used to winning ball games with lesser players at Vandy, and his staff will do a remarkable job and start off their PSU legacy with a big win in another country. Get 'em into you, lads. Guinness For Strength"
-- Keith Conlin, keithconlin
"Penn State 17, Central Florida 13:
Both teams have a fantastic defense and that will keep points at a premium. The time difference and
the low temps will also create a bit of a shock to the kids' system. The star of the game will be
Jesse James as he hauls in the game winner in the 4th quarter. "
-- Nirav Dalal, PlaybookNirav
"Penn State 24, Central Florida 17:
Although this looks to have the makings of a defensive battle, I suspect Penn State's air attack
will turn some heads and allow the Lions to mount some key scoring drives. Toss in some innovative
looks from James Franklin and company and the Lions should leave Ireland with a W."
-- Mark Harrington, PlaybookMark
"Penn State 20, Central Florida 13:
Both teams have seasoned veterans scattered among glaring question marks. While "will the volcano
erupt?" isn't one of those questions, I think both offenses will struggle to get things in gear. A
defensive score seals the deal for PSU."
-- Tom Hoffman, underscoreTom
"Central Florida 24, Penn State 21:
This will be a very different atmosphere for a college football game, and it will be a good measure
of just how well Coach Franklin is able to keep the team focused on the task at hand. Much has
changed in the past year, and while the new openness is welcome, it needs to translate to
performance on the field. The loss of Brenneman is a big one, and in the end, I see the Lions
falling just short."
-- Tom McLaughlin, WeRPSUPlaybook
"Penn State 31, Central Florida 20:
With all the questions surrounding Penn State, what about Central Florida's offense? It has to
replace one of the best QBs ever to carve up the Nittany Lions and it lost 3 offensive line starters
who are bidding for NFL roster spots. The receiving core is solid, but the Nittany Lions should be
able to pressure UCF into enough mistakes to give Penn State's offense room against a stout UCF
-- Donovan Neal, PSUMtnBike
"Central Florida 24, Penn State 17:
New head coach, foreign location, and rebuilt offensive line. It's a tough task for any program, and
whether Penn State is up to the task or not remains to be seen. The Lions could easily pry this one
away, but before kick, I'll lean to the side with experience, and consistency, over the one that may
be more talented when all is said and done in December."
-- Greg Pickel, GregPickel
"Central Florida 20, Penn State 16:
The combination of a makeshift and thin offensive line for Penn State going up against a seasoned
UCF defense will spell trouble for the Nittany Lions in their season kick-off. This will be a
defensive battle for the majority of the game with the Knights squeaking out the victory."
-- Rob Riva, rriva
Mark Brennan, mxbscout
We knew all along that this would be the season where the NCAA sanctions had the greatest impact.
Luckily, since most of the penalties have been (or soon will be) eased or eliminated, this should be
as bad as it gets. I can see PSU winning a game or two more if the offensive line develops more
quickly than expected and all the key players stay healthy. But things will go sideways in a hurry
if key injuries hit."
Scott Cole, PSU96
The sanctions have taken their toll on the depth chart, leaving the offensive line and linebacker
corps in a very precarious spot. All it will take is one or two injuries to key personnel for things
to end up worse than my predicted record. However, I have faith in this coaching staff and feel they
will get the absolute most out of the Nittany Lions. This team will be much better in November and
will hopefully get a chance to have a month of bowl practices to use as a springboard into what
looks to be a very bright future."
Keith Conlin, keithconlin
With so many questions at my beloved offensive line position this season, I cant lie that I am not concerned about the franchise QB being protected. But offensive lines thrive under pressure IMO. The staff won lots of games at Vandy playing in the SEC, so the it knows how to get it done with less than ideal players/circumstances. Guess what, we have those less than ideal circumstances. When the sanctions were handed down in 2012, we always knew that the 2014 season would be the hardest one on the team and staff because of the loss of scholarships. It is not going to be easy, but I have faith in the new staff and the attitude of our players. Tough kids all around who have been put through the ringer more than once or twice. This team will have its struggles early but I think they hit their stride by October. Until Brady Hoke proves he can win tight ball games (see Michigan-PSU 2013) I am predicting a win at the Big House. I am ready for the season and can't wait to get it started."
Nirav Dalal, PlaybookNirav
I can see this season going +1 or -1 a win but anything beyond that would be a surprise to me. The
defense will keep the Lions in most games but the offense will be anemic with a struggling offensive
line and very young receivers. The result will be some tough, close loses but a solid season overall
when you consider the depth issues."
Mark Harrington, PlaybookMark
This has the makings of being the toughest sanction season for the Nittany Lions, but with talent
and speed throughout the squad and the "unknown" factor of a new staff in the Big Ten, I expect the
Lions to win a major game few expect them to and lose a "gimme" few throught as possible. With
paper-thin spots on the roster, things could unravel quickly with a key injury or two."
Tom Hoffman, underscoreTom
I'd like to say 8-4, but I just can't see a six-deep offensive line allowing the offense to operate
on all cylinders. The defense may be able to pick up some of that slack. James Franklin was able to
wring every last drop out of the Vanderbilt sponge, so maybe he can do the same with PSU."
Tom McLaughlin, WeRPSUPlaybook
This season could end dramatically different from the prediction, but so much will depend on team
unity, and on how well Penn State gets out of the gate. A win in Ireland, particularly a convincing
one, could set the tone for a 9-3 campaign, but on the other hand, pre-season excitement and
enthusiasm is often watered down in the face of a slow start or a disappointing loss. It will be an
interesting challenge for the staff, and we will learn much about how they handle adversity and
Donovan Neal, PSUMtnBike
A season of unknowns with another new coaching staff, a depleted roster in key areas, and on paper
the most crippling year from the sanctions to look forward to. The Lions must develop the
offensive line and stay healthy. A healthy team may pull out 9 wins, but an unhealthly one may
barely break even. I'm going with a prediction somewhere in the upper middle."
Greg Pickel, GregPickel
The chorus has sung, as pundits and fans alike are projecting the Lions end up 7-5. A win they
shouldn't have and a loss that shouldn't happen are to be expected, but the limited depth everyone
knew was coming this fall makes it tough to make Penn State an eight win team. In fact, 9-3 seems
just as plausible as 3-9, depending on how the cards fall. But 7-5 would be considered a success,
with anything more than that simply being gravy atop the James Franklin express."
Rob Riva, rriva
By now, everyone knows the depth issues facing the Nittany Lions, particularly on the offensive
line, as a result of the sanctions. The game is won in the trenches, and Penn State is one or two
injuries away from asking some run-ons to play offensive line. That also will likely temper the
effectiveness of one of the nation's top quarterbacks in Christian Hackenberg, who has some
extremely talented players in the backfield, at tight end and at wideout. The 2014 season will be
the low-point of the sanction years with things looking up exponentially hereafter. Look for Penn
State to drop a game it otherwise shouldn't early in the season as the team develops (i.e at
Rutgers) but pull out a stunner by the end of the year (i.e. home against Michigan State)."