A bye week this early in the season is a rare occasion, but that's exactly what Penn State just enjoyed. Now it's time to get into the Big Ten part of the schedule, starting with a nighttime road trip to Maryland.
The Nittany Lions should be rested and ready to take on a dangerous Terps team. Playing the game on Friday evening will change the weekly schedule, but hopefully, the extra time off will help alleviate that.
When the Nittany Lions do take the field, they will certainly want to show that they have improved in some key areas. Despite starting the season 3-0, there are plenty of problems that need fixing, including the play of the offensive line and the secondary.
Of course, the success of the team hinges on everyone, not just three players, but when you sit down with your favorite beverage and tune in Friday night, pay close attention to the following Nittany Lions.
K Jordan Stout
I love highlighting Jordan Stout each week as a player to watch, because, let's face it, it's cool to show kickers some love. The Virginia Tech transfer kicker has quickly become an important player for the Nittany Lions and has arguably been the team's MVP up to this point.
Stout has a giant leg, and he's not afraid to use it. From constantly booting kickoffs out of the end zone, to making field goals from seemingly impossible distances, he's done it all.
The last time out against Pitt, Stout set a new school record with a 57-yard field goal. Will he take that number even higher this week?
Maryland is one of the best rushing teams in the nation so far this season, so Penn State's linebackers must be ready to step up. The Terps are No. 8 in the nation with an average of 277 yards on the ground per game.
Micah Parsons, Jan Johnson, and Cam Brown need to be ready. Those three guys lead the Nittany Lions in tackles so far this year, and they'll be counted on to continue their strong start.
Maryland will want to run the ball to control the game, especially early. "Linebacker U" better be up to the challenge. Penn State is ranked No. 9 in the nation, giving up just 71 yards on the ground per game (including a total of 28 rushing yards against Idaho and Pitt combined), so something will have to give in this matchup.
QB Sean Clifford
Sean Clifford wasn't as sharp against Pittsburgh as he had been in other games, but he still did enough to win. He's had a week to study the tape and analyze his own decisions, so I'm expecting to see him come out firing in this one.
Maryland is No. 10 in the nation in rushing yards allowed, so the Nittany Lions could struggle to run the ball. Conversely, they are just No. 63 in passing yards allowed, meaning Clifford could see several opportunities to make plays down the field.
If Penn State is going to get out of Maryland with a win, look for a big night from Clifford.