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Penn State7310626
UCF0371424
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24


Penn State (0-0) vs. UCF (0-0)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Saturday, August 30, 8:30 a.m. (ET).

FACTS & STATS: Site: Croke Park Stadium (82,300) -- Dublin, Ireland. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: PSU 0-0, UCF 0-0. Away Record: PSU 0-0, UCF 0-0. Neutral Record: PSU 0-0, UCF 0-0. Conference Record: PSU 0-0, UCF 0-0. Series Record: Penn State leads, 2-1.

GAME NOTES: The Penn State Nittany Lions are set to usher in the James Franklin era in Dublin, Ireland, as they take on the UCF Knights at Croke Park Stadium on Saturday morning.

This marks the first game played on international turf in the 128-year history of Penn State's football program. Franklin, the former Vanderbilt head coach who replaced Bill O'Brien in January, takes over a Nittany Lions squad that won seven games and became bowl eligible for the second straight year. Led by sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg and buoyed by Franklin's first impact recruiting class, the team has high hopes for another successful campaign despite a continued postseason ban through 2015 from the fallout of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal.

UCF has won nine straight games dating back to last season, the third-longest active winning streak in the FBS. The Knights went 12-1 and swept their American Athletic Conference schedule, then knocked off high-powered Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl, 52-42. After earning their first AP top-10 finish in school history (No. 10), and giving the AAC a BCS bowl victory in the league's first year, the Knights must now move on while star quarterback Blake Bortles (drafted No. 3 overall) and all-conference running back Storm Johnson (7th round) are both suiting up on Sundays.

PSU owns a 2-1 lead in the head-to-head series, although last season the Knights came into Beaver Stadium and claimed a 34-31 victory.

Hackenberg's debut season in Happy Valley netted him the Big Ten Freshman of the Year award. He threw for nearly 3,000 yards (246.2 ypg) with 20 touchdowns and 10 interceptions and seemed to get a better feel for major college football as the season progressed, culminating in a four-touchdown effort against Wisconsin in the final game. Hackenberg has worked on developing chemistry with a new receiving corps after losing all-conference wideout Allen Robinson to the NFL. Top rushers Zach Zwinak (989 yds, 12 TDs) and Bill Belton (803 yds, five TDs) both return.

Defensively, Penn State brings back seven starters led by senior defensive end C.J. Olaniyan, who posted 11 tackles for loss, including five sacks, and three forced fumbles in 2013. The unit will be counting on Olaniyan to continue being a disruptive force and replace some of the production lost from departed defensive tackle DaQuan Jones (11.5 TFL). At linebacker, senior Mike Hull is a popular preseason all-conference pick after ranking second on the team with 78 tackles in only 10 games last year. In the defensive backfield, the Nittany Lions return three starters. Cornerback Jordan Lucas and safety Ryan Keiser both picked off three passes a year ago, and that duo combined for 27 passes defended.

UCF's offense must find a new identity without Bortles and his 3,581 passing yards and 25 touchdowns from a year ago. Head coach George O'Leary named redshirt freshman Pete DiNovo the starting quarterback a little more than a week into preseason camp, setting the stage for DiNovo to become the first UCF freshman QB to start a season opener since Daunte Culpepper in 1995. With Storm Johnson no longer around after piling up 1,139 yards on the ground, William Stanback moves up the depth chart at running back. Last year as a true freshman, Stanback ran for 443 yards and six scores on 105 carries as Johnson's backup. The receiving corps is locked and loaded with leading pass catchers Rannell Hall (57 rec, 886 yds 5 TD), J.J. Worton (47-721-7) and Breshad Perriman (39-811-4) all back in the mix. The offensive line returns two starters.

The Knights ranked among the top-20 in the country in scoring defense last season (21.3 ppg), while allowing just 362 yards per game. Anchoring the unit is first-team all-conference linebacker Terrance Plummer, who finished with 110 tackles to go along with 2.5 sacks and a pair of interceptions. Troy Gray is another starter who will help out in the middle. The strength of the unit lies in the secondary, where safety Clayton Geathers and cornerback Jacoby Glenn roam. Geathers racked up 100 tackles last season while Glenn had 52 stops and 15 pass breakups, and both picked off two passes. Safety Brandon Alexander (63 tackles, three INTs) led the team in picks last year and cornerback Jordan Ozerities racked up 59 tackles. Up front, defensive tackle Demetris Anderson (seven TFL) and end Thomas Niles (eight TFL, four sacks) both return.

It will be interesting to see how, if at all, the time difference and unfamiliar atmosphere impacts each team. Even without their two biggest playmakers from a year ago, the Knights are certainly no pushover. But the Nittany Lions are more experienced where it counts, as Hackenberg looks to build on his successful first season under center.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Penn State 34, UCF 24

08/29 15:15:54 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
CREI 65
NCCU 45
 
Final
NCSU 68
SFLA 65
Final
MIA 94
CHA 93
12:00pm Today
UWGB
ECU
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
LAC
 
Final
MIA 94
CHA 93
Final
MEM 107
LAC 91
Final
BOS 88
POR 94
Final
OKC 86
GSW 91
Final
LAL 94
DEN 101
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
LAC
 
7:00pm Tonight
CLE
ORL
 
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
POR
 
7:30pm Tonight
TOR
PHO
 
8:00pm Tonight
HOU
NYK
 
8:30pm Tonight
DAL
IND
 
9:00pm Tonight
UTA
CHI
 
Final
GMAS 60
COC 61
Final
FSU 69
UMASS 75
Final
SHSU 53
WOFF 64
Final
UNCG 67
YOUNG 76
Final
CMICH 75
ARKPB 43
 
Final
ILLCH 60
SILL 67
Final
MORE 46
AMER 51
Final
CORN 59
DREX 61
Final
CCST 60
COOK 65
Final
ARKLR 94
CSNO 88
Final
LEH 44
CLMB 54
 
Final
USB 89
MERMAR 54
 
Final
NMU 51
TEXAM 64
Final
STLU 56
TAMCC 62
 
Final
FAIR 80
SD 72
Final
EMICH 79
LONG 48
Final
ND 74
PROV 75
Final
RAD 88
CATAWBA 52
 
Final
DEN 80
COPST 54
 
Final
UAB 58
JST 50
 
Final
WICHS 105
NWM 57
Final
OKLA 90
NWST 68
Final
KSU 59
YALE 66
Final
CREI 65
NCCU 45
 
Final
NCSU 68
SFLA 65
Final
UCR 102
STKAT 49
 
Final
PSU 63
USC 61
Final
HC 101
NICHOLSCOL 70
 
Final
BC 53
DAY 65
Final
MON 75
TOWS 79
Final
HOF 93
WAGN 71
 
Final
CIN 54
EILL 49
Final
UGA 74
FATL 61
Final
BRAD 58
NCAT 50
 
Final
LATU 76
PBY 48
Final
RUTG 76
Terriers 73
 
Final
SAMF 64
UMKC 55
Final
NAVY 70
BING 68
Final
SHU 85
GWEBB 67
Final
UNT 58
IONA 78
Final
KENT 86
MNTST 28
Final
FORD 57
MLOWELL 64
 
Final
UCF 76
USCU 69
 
Final
SCAR 63
AKR 68
Final
WVU 78
UCONN 68
Final
CALST 70
DEL 52
 
Final
HOW 78
HOOD 51
 
Final
OSU 106
SHU 48
Final
VANDY 78
TENST 46
Final
NE 65
MAN 51
Final
COLST 75
MERC 62
Final
MISS 80
NARZ 74
Final
WASH 76
PAC 69
Final
LMU 82
SDCHR 60
 
Final
CHAR 58
MIAMI 77
Final
GAELS 72
UCI 69
Final
ILLST 64
ODU 45
Final
UCLA 77
LBSU 63
Final
SEAT 62
MONT 66
 
12:00pm Today
UWGB
ECU
 
1:30pm Today
WEBER
NEV
 
2:30pm Today
FRES
EVAN
 
2:30pm Today
KYST
PURD
 
4:00pm Today
LSU
CLEM
 
4:00pm Today
ALCOR
DILL
 
4:30pm Today
CHIST
UGST
 
4:30pm Today
DET
MDES
 
5:00pm Tonight
ARZ
MIZZ
 
5:30pm Tonight
INDST
PEAY
 
6:00pm Tonight
FLGC
MAR
 
6:00pm Tonight
LALAF
UWMIL
 
6:30pm Tonight
ODU
GWEBB
 
7:00pm Tonight
MD
ARST
 
7:00pm Tonight
TOL
BUCK
 
7:00pm Tonight
JMU
COL
 
7:00pm Tonight
WINT
ETST
 
7:00pm Tonight
GSOUT
FIU
 
7:00pm Tonight
BST
GRAM
 
7:00pm Tonight
APP
HAMP
 
7:00pm Tonight
MAST
JVU
 
7:00pm Tonight
XAV
MURST
 
7:00pm Tonight
WAKE
NICST
 
7:00pm Tonight
MSU
SCU
 
7:00pm Tonight
LOU
SAV
 
7:00pm Tonight
TENT
SELA
 
7:00pm Tonight
VCU
VILL
 
7:00pm Tonight
OU
WCU
 
7:30pm Tonight
IND
EWASH
 
8:00pm Tonight
ILL
BRO
 
8:00pm Tonight
MSST
CLAYST
 
8:00pm Tonight
BEL
LIP
 
8:00pm Tonight
TCU
MVSU
 
8:00pm Tonight
IOWA
PEPP
 
8:00pm Tonight
MEM
PVU
 
8:00pm Tonight
KU
RIDE
 
8:00pm Tonight
BAY
STEPH
 
8:00pm Tonight
INCWORD
A
 
8:30pm Tonight
USF
HAW
 
8:30pm Tonight
OKST
ORST
 
9:00pm Tonight
WYO
FAM
 
9:00pm Tonight
MARQ
YALE
 
9:00pm Tonight
CHAM
PITT
 
9:00pm Tonight
ILLST
SHU
 
9:00pm Tonight
NMST
STET
 
9:30pm Tonight
ISU
ALA
 
9:30pm Tonight
SDKST
CHADRON
 
9:30pm Tonight
NCOL
CCHR
 
9:30pm Tonight
OREG
MICH
 
10:00pm Tonight
SDU
WMICH
 
10:05pm Tonight
PORST
SIUE
 
11:00pm Tonight
AUB
TULSA
 
11:30pm Tonight
SDST
BYU
 
Final
WIN 2
STL 4
Final
NYR 5
MON 0
Final
ANA 2
ARI 1
Final
VAN 4
CHI 1
7:00pm Tonight
NYI
PHI
 
7:00pm Tonight
BOS
PIT
 
7:30pm Tonight
FLA
MIN
 
7:30pm Tonight
DET
OTT
 
Final
HOU 13
CIN 22
Final
ATL 24
CLE 26
Final
NEP 34
DET 9
Final
MIN 21
GBP 24
Final
IND 23
JAC 3
Final
CHI 21
TAM 13
Final
PHI 43
TEN 24
Final
SEA 19
ARI 3
Final
SDC 27
STL 24
Final
DEN 39
MIA 36
Final
SFX 17
WAS 13
Final
NYG 28
DAL 31
7:00pm Tonight
BUF
NYJ
8:30pm Tonight
NOS
BAL