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This is my in-depth preview of the Notre Dame-Penn State football game on September 8th, 2007.

Table of Contents
1. Team Information

2. Series Background

3. Lineups

4. Impact Players

5. Score Prediction

6. A Look to Next Week

 

1. Team Information

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish

First Game: 1887
All-time Record: 821-269-42
Stadium: Notre Dame Stadium
Capacity: 80,795
Bowl Record: 13-15
Heismans: 7 (Most Recent: 1987 Tim Brown)

The Penn State Nittany Lions

First game: 1887
All-Time Record: 780-343-42
Stadium: Beaver Stadium
Capacity: 107,282
Bowl Record: 25-12-2
Heisman: 1 (John Cappelletti 1973)

2. Series Background

Notre Dame leads the series 9-8-1.  The Irish won last year's matchup 41-17.  The teams first met in 1913.  The only time Notre Dame has won at Penn State was in 1989.  The famed Snow Bowl game with Notre Dame stars Rick Mirer and Jerome Bettis in 1992 was against the Nittany Lions.

3. Lineups

Notre Dame

QB-Jimmy Clausen/Fr./7
RB-Travis Thomas/Sr./26
WR-David Grimes/Jr./11
WR-George West/So./19
WR-DJ Hord/Jr./1
TE-John Carlson/Sr./89
OT-Sam Young/So./74
OG-Dan Wenger/So./51
C-John Sullivan/Sr./78
OG-Mike Turkovich/Jr./77
OT-Paul Duncan/Jr./72

DE-Trevor Laws/Sr./98
NT-Ian Williams/Fr./95
DE-Dwight Stephenson/Sr./57
OLB-Anthony Vernaglia/Sr./54
ILB-Maurice Crum/Sr./40
ILB-Joe Brockington/Sr./52
OLB-John Ryan/So./90
CB-Darrin Walls/So./2
FS-David Bruton/Jr./27
SS-Tom Zbikowski/Sr./9
CB-Terrail Lambert/Sr./20

Penn State

QB-Anthony Morrelli/Sr./14
TB-Austin Scott/Sr./32
WR-Deon Butler/Jr./3
WR-Derrick Williams/Jr./2
WR-Jordan Norwood/Jr./24
TE-Andrew Quarless/So./10
OT-Gerald Cadogan/Jr./76
OG-John Shaw/Sr./78
C-AQ Shipley/Sr./57
OG-Lou Eliades/So./77
OT-Dennis Landolt/Jr./73

DE-Josh Gaines/Jr./47
DT-Chris Baker/Jr./93
DT-Jared Odrick/So./91
DE-Aaron Maybin/So./59
OLB-Tyrell Sales/Sr./46
MLB-Dan Connor/Sr./40
OLB-Sean Lee/Jr./45
CB-Justin King/Jr./1
FS-Tony Davis/Sr./11
SS-Anthony Scirotto/Jr./7
CB-Lydell Sargeant/Jr./10

4. Impact Players

Notre Dame

Offense: Jimmy Clausen/QB/Freshman-The Clausen era has started in Notre Dame.  The most highly touted football prospect since Ron Powlus will be starting in only his second game.  That is the earliest for a QB to start at Notre Dame.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.  The Irish were stomped last weekend with Evan Sharpley and Demetrius Jones taking most of the snaps.  On the six passes Clausen threw, he looked accurate, and he didn't force anything.  Against the very strong defense of Penn State, accuracy will be key.  The corners are great, and the linebackers are strong in coverage.  If the line for Notre Dame can give Clausen time in the pocket, then he can complete passes and move the ball up the field.

Defense: Trevor Laws/DE/5th Year Senior-Against Georgia Tech, Laws was the only standout on the team.  He blocked a field goal, had nine tackles, and deflected numerous passes.  Against Morelli last year, Victor Abiamiri and Derek Landri destroyed him, forcing turnovers.  If Laws can provide the same pressure on Morrelli that his predecessors did, then Penn State will have to depend on their running game, which now lacks Tony Hunt, a second round draft pick.  Laws was also excellent in the run.  When Penn State trys to run Off Tackles and Stretchs, Laws will have to step up and stop the run.

Penn State

Offense: Anthony Morrelli/QB/Senior-Did you know that Anthony Morelli was down to Notre Dame and Penn State four years ago?  Needless to say, he chose Penn State.  If Morelli had gone to Notre Dame, the quarterback controversy would have gone over a lot smoother to say the least.  Morelli was awful last year against Notre Dame.  The defensive line, and most of all, Tom Zbikowski devoured him.  This year, with ND only returning 5 starters, Morelli will look for revenge on the defense that pounded him in South Bend last year.

Defense: Justin King/CB/Junior-King is already drawing Deion Sanders comparison due to his blazing speed and football smarts.  If Penn State wants to stop Clausen, King will need to step up and take away David Grimes, Notre Dame's top receiver.  The Irish will want to establish the pass early to take pressure off of Travis Thomas, who had a terrible game last week.  If King can stop Grimes, then the safeties can focus on John Carlson, Notre Dame's All-American tight end.

5. Prediction

Penn State 27, Notre Dame 20: I want to pick the upset because my heart is telling me so, but my head is saying blowout.  I will go in the middle, and I will say Penn State scores on a last second touchdown run by Austin Scott.  For Notre Dame fans, think of this as a new season.  Last week's team will look nothing like this week's team.  The Nittany Lions are overrated, but I can't take Notre Dame.  They looked as bad as the Irish have ever looked.

6. A Look Ahead

Penn State

Next week, the Nittany Lions will face...BUFFALO!  The Buffalo Bulls are the worst team in college football.  They make Florida International look like Florida State.  They make Michigan look like Appalachian State.  The Lions have a weak schedule overall this season.  I expec them to go 10-2 and finish second in the Big Ten to Wisconsin.

Notre Dame

The Irish will travel to face Michigan next week.  I urge all Notre Dame fans to wear Appalachian State shirts to the game.  Even though Notre Dame got embarrassed, at least they lost to a 1A school!  Both of these teams will go into the game 0-2.  It will be a battle of lost seasons.  I expect Notre Dame to go 7-5 and make it to a bowl game around Christmas.  They will win their bowl game, and people can focus on next year's team, which will be a contender.

The Irish are not as bad as people think.  Look at New Orleans-Indianapolis.  New Orleans is not as bad as they showed out there on the field.  Indianapolis was just that good.  It's the same thing with Georgia Tech-Notre Dame.  I believe that Georgia Tech will go 11-1 and win the ACC.  The Jackets are amazing.  I will guarantee that Notre Dame will NOT miss a bowl game.  Purdue, Michigan State, Navy, Air Force, Duke, and Stanford are all winnable.  I also predict that they upset UCLA.  The Irish will surprise people, and they won't be as horrendus as people say.

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