After beating Auburn last week, Penn State is now ranked No. 8 in the USA TODAY Sports AFCA Coaches Poll as they do battle with Villanova on Saturday at Beaver Stadium. A win against an FCS opponent is to be expected, but James Franklin will be sure to not have his Nittany Lions take one of the better FCS programs for granted.
Here are five reasons why Penn State should not have any issues in beating Villanova.
1.Build off momentum from Auburn game
Is this the year that Penn State finally breaks through and makes the College Football Playoff? The win over Auburn looks really good on their schedule but now the question is can they build off of it? A home game against Villanova offers Penn State a chance to fix a couple minor things before jumping back into Big Ten play for the remainder of the season.
2. Don’t overlook Villanova
When you first saw the schedule and saw that Penn State was playing Villanova this week, you likely thought the Nittany Lions should walk all over the Wildcats. A lot of people are taking this team lightly because of what’s going to happen next week as Penn State returns to conference play in a rematch against Indiana. This is the classic look ahead trap situation for Penn State, but Franklin is aware of that.
3. Can the defense keep up from last week?
Late in the game last week against Auburn the defense made the big stops when they needed. They have been doing it every game so far this season and that should be expected to continue this week.
4. Handling distractions
Going into the game against Auburn there were a lot of questions of how Penn State would handle the distraction of head coach James Franklin being linked to the USC job. It turned out they handled it pretty well! There hasn’t been as much chatter about the USC job this week, so perhaps any thought of a distraction is but on the shelf this week.
5. In-state bragging rights
It’s always exciting whenever you face a fellow team from within the state and knowing the fan base that Penn State and Villanova has this should be a very good game. But there is no reason to expect Penn State won’t add Villanova to its win total. Maybe this game doesn’t carry the same in-state magnitude as a game with Pitt or even Temple would offer, but the last thing Penn State fans will want us for Villanova to cause any sort of trouble Saturday.