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PREVIEW: West Virginia visits No. 7 Penn State

Beaver Stadium
Credit: r_gnuce Via Flickr

Former Eastern Independent rivals meet for the 60th time in State College with Penn State leading the all-time series 48-9-2.

Broadcast Information

TV: NBC - 7:30 PM: Play-By-Play Noah Eagle, Analyst Todd Blackledge, & Sideline Kathryn Tappen

Local Radio: Penn State Radio Network: Play-By-Play Steve Jones, Analyst Jack Ham, & Sideline Brian Tripp

Radio Stations Local: 99.5 & 103.7 FM/1450 AM


Sirius/XM/Internet: 85/SXM App

What’s at Stake?

The Nittany Lions open the 2023 season kicking off NBC's coverage of Big Ten football. The Nittany Lions all time are 7-3 on NBC telecasts. Notable NBC telecasts include the Fiesta Bowl against Miami for the national championship and 1992 Snow Bowl game versus Notre Dame.

The Nittany Lions are ranked in the Top 15 in both polls in five of the previous seven seasons and face the highest expectations since the Paterno era.

Penn State is vying for its first College Football Playoff spot in James Franklin's 10th season in Happy Valley. With no other resume-building out-of-conference games, the Nittany Lions need this one.

For West Virginia and its much-maligned coach Neal Brown, this is arguably the toughest team the Mountaineers will face all season.

It looks like a make-or-break season for Brown in Morgantown. This is the first of three pivotal games, at home versus Pitt in the Backyard Brawl September 16 and a visit to former coach Dana Holgorsen October 12 in Houston, that will define his tenure.

West Virginia returns Top 10 safety Aubrey Burks who finished second to Miami's Kam Kinchens in PFF Grade at safety with an 84.9 grade.

The Mountaineers also boast a Top-10 offensive line unit that returns all five starters from last season and has a combined 133 career starts among them led by left tackle Wyatt Milum and center Zach Frazier.

The last time these teams met was in 1992 in Morgantown where the Nittany Lions extended their win streak to four against WVU in a 40-26 win.

Key Players

West Virginia - Safety: Aubrey Burks, Left Tackle: Wyatt Milum, Running Back: C.J. Donaldson

Penn State - Quarterback: Drew Allar, Defensive Tackle Zane Durant, EDGE rushers Adisa Isaac & Chop Robinson

Key Match-ups

If the Mountaineers want to make it a game, they are going to have to shorten the game with Penn State and stay on schedule on offense.

Their strength is their offensive line and running back C.J. Donaldson has the ability to make plays. If Penn State has a vulnerability it is up the middle, something Michigan exposed last year in The Big House, and this is where experienced guards like Brandon Yates and Tomas Rimac can make Penn State pay. The Nittany Lions lost to graduation defensive tackle P.J. Mustipher who was great in the trenches. This is where guys like Zane Durant, D'von Ellies, and Hakeem Beamon have to step up.

Drew Allar SHOULD be making his first career start. If he lives up to expectations with the weapons Penn State has in the backfield and at receiver, it may be a long night for Burks and the defense.


Allar will have some kinks to work out. The Mountaineers will win some battles in the trenches and allow Donaldson, quarterback Garrett Greene to make some plays and keep it close in the first half.

The Nittany Lions are loaded in all three facets, at some point the Nittany Lion offensive line will wear down the Mountaineer front seven. The Nittany Lions backfield duo of Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen, who combined for 2,201 yards from scrimmage and 24 touchdowns last season, will make a bigger impact than what Donaldson can do for the Mountaineers. Allar will settle in and display to a national audience why he was the No. 1 quarterback in his recruiting class and Penn State will get the decisive victory. Penn State 38 West Virginia 17



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