No. 5 Penn State tunes up for Big Ten against Georgia State
Georgia State (0-1) at No. 5 Penn State (2-0), Saturday 7:30 p.m. (BTN).
Line: Penn State by 38½.
Series Record: First meeting.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
The Nittany Lions get a final tuneup before starting their Big Ten title defense at Iowa next week. There are things Penn State could stand to clean up before then, namely a passing offense that was spotty against Pitt last week. In its eighth year of competition, Georgia State is still looking for a win against a Power Five opponent. The Panthers scared Wisconsin last season and led the Badgers early in the fourth quarter.
Georgia State’s secondary vs. Penn State’s receivers. Certainly, the Panthers will crowd the line to try and slow RB Saquon Barkley. Eventually, they’ll have to stop a group of wideouts that includes speedsters DaeSean Hamilton and DeAndre Thompkins and TE Mike Gesicki, who has caught 16 passes for 230 yards and seven touchdowns in his last five games. Barkley caught a 46-yard touchdown pass last week, so there’s that too.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Georgia State: WR Penny Hart. Back after missing nearly all of 2016 with a broken foot, Hart is the Panthers’ biggest playmaker on offense. He set a Sun Belt record with 1,099 receiving yards as a freshman.
Penn State: QB Trace McSorley. The junior quarterback attributed some of his off-the-mark throws to early “jitters” last week. Considering he’s completed 61 percent or more of his passes in four of his last five games, it’d be reasonable to think he’ll bounce back.
FACTS & FIGURES
Barkley leads the Big Ten and is second in the nation with 215 all-purpose yards per game. . Gesicki will tie Penn State’s record for career touchdown catches by a tight end with one more. . Penn State hasn’t hosted a team from Georgia since Georgia Tech visited Happy Valley in 1923. . Georgia State is coming off a bye. . The Panthers are 0-8 against Power Five teams. . This game will be Georgia State’s first on natural grass since 2015.