YSU - Kurt Hess has been consistent in all three of the games so far this season. Last week against Albany, he was probably pressured more than he had been all season - even against Pitt. He made a few mental errors, but still hasn't thrown an interception yet this season. He's averaging 158.3 yards per game in the air and has a completion percentage of 63.6. What Hess does have over UNI is experience, as this is his third meeting against UNI.
UNI - A new player YSU will be unfamiliar with is redshirt freshman Sawyer Kollmorgen. But just because this will be his fourth career start, doesn't mean he doesn't have talent. In the first start of his career, against Wisconsin, he was 18 of 34, for 265 yards and three touchdowns. On the season, he's averaging 246.3 yards per game and has thrown for six TDs. He's also smart and has only thrown one interception this season.
EDGE - YSU
YSU - The Penguins had been keeping Jamaine Cook's carries limited over the first few games, but he was called on a lot against Albany - and answered the call. He rushed for 161 yards and three touchdowns in the victory. On the season, he now has 296 yards on the ground. A nice addition to the running game has been the play of Torrian Pace, who might not get the ball a lot, but makes it count when he does. He has rushed for 201 yards this season and had a big 1-yard punch in for a touchdown last week against Albany.
UNI - The Panthers are more of a two-back system then YSU, so the carries have been split between Carlos Anderson and David Johnson. Johnson has the edge in yardage over Anderson, having 30 carries for 100 yards. Anderson - who is listed as the starter - isn't far behind with 97 yards on 23 carries. Most of the scoring has been done through the air as Johnson is the only back to have a touchdown this season, and he only has one.
EDGE - YSU
YSU - The receivers had a few drops last week against Albany, and hopefully those are out of their system, because that can not happen against a very talented UNI secondary. Will Shaw leads the team with nine catches for 112 yards and three touchdowns. Andrew Stubbs has been quiet since his breakout game against Pitt. If he's utilized more against UNI it could be the difference maker.
UNI - This will probably be the biggest test for the YSU secondary this season. Kollmorgen likes to spread the love between Johnson, Terrell Sinkfield and Brett LeMaster. LeMaster has 224 yards receiving this year on nine catches, Johnson and Sinkfield both have 10 catches for 184 and 121 yards, respectively. They've also gone deep this season, as LeMaster has a long catch of 65 yards and Johnson is right behind with a catch for 55.
EDGE - UNI
YSU - The line did some great things last week against Albany. There were some plays when it looked like they were one big body the way they were moving and creating holes for Cook to run through. Then there were times that the line looked a little pushed around. Hess was pressured more than he had been all season and the line did give up the first sack of the season against the Great Danes. But the experience of this line I think will come through, and will be ready to line up against a strong UNI defense.
UNI - The line is experienced, with three fifth year seniors on the line. Due to the fact the teams UNI have played have been very physical teams, the front five have done a nice job of protecting the young quarterback, as he's only been sacked twice. The running game hasn't put up a ton of yards, but the line has given Kollmorgen plenty of time to pass, which has let the passing game excel.
EDGE - Even
YSU - A good thing for the YSU defensive line is that nose tackle Nick DeKraker is back in the starting lineup after sitting out the last few weeks with an injury against Pitt. He and defensive tackle Aronde Stanton will really have to get physical and stop the run game. It's been the one part of UNI's offense that hasn't taken off, and YSU can't afford for that unit to get going on Saturday. The line has been solid all year, only giving up 287 yards on the ground.
UNI - Give the defensive line credit, as it has matched up against some pretty physical and historically run-first teams. But numbers are numbers and the Panther defensive front has allowed 396 yards this season. What Iowa did well was wear down the defensive line by continually pounding the ball. Which then leads to the question, will the Panthers still be banged up and tired from the Iowa game?
EDGE - YSU
YSU - Travis Williams is listed first on the depth chart this week at the Will linebacker, and he's earned it. Williams has been a machine the last two games, registering 18 tackles this season, 3.5 for loss. He's also forced a fumble. Teven Williams is right behind him, with 16 tackles from the Mike spot. The biggest weakness of the defense this year is giving up short-yardage screen passes, so the linebackers have to stop those, and make sure they are sticking to their assignments.
UNI - Last season, the Penguins had to deal with L.J. Fort in the Panther linebacking corps. Fort is now with the Cleveland Browns, but YSU will now have to deal with middle linebacker Jordan Gacke. He's third on the team with 14.5 tackles, two for a loss. However, Gacke was limping off the field after the Iowa game. He's still listed as the starter. Another injury that occurred in this unit after the Iowa game was Zach Cutkomp. He's listed as second on the depth chart, as he seemed more injured then Gacke.
EDGE - Even
YSU - Coach Eric Wolford said Dale Peterman, who is second on the team with 16 tackles, is a day-to-day decision, but Peterman hopes and expects to play. There were more than a few times the defensive backs missed their assignments against Albany, and only because they flat out dropped passes, it didn't effect the score. These are without a doubt the best receivers the Penguins have faced this season - therefore they will need to have their best game.
UNI - The secondary has been the strongest defensive unit for the Panthers this season. Free safety Wilmot Wellington leads the team with 25.5 tackles and an interception. Garrett Scott is second on the team with 18 tackles at strong safety. Left cornerback Varmah Sonie has 14.5 tackles and is on almost every pre-season team and watch list.
EDGE - UNI
YSU - David Brown is 3 for 3 this season on field goals, but they have only been from 20 to 29 yards out. If YSU can get into this range, he'll be OK, but his career long is 33, and that was last season.
UNI - Place kicker Tyler Sievertsen kicked a 49-yard field goal against Iowa, beating out his career long of 48. He's 4 of 4 this season, two from the 20 to 29-yard range, and the other two from 40 to 49 yards. YSU needs to make sure this game does not come down to a field goal, as Sievertsen is 22 of 24 for his career.
EDGE - UNI
The only prediction I feel absolutely confident in is that this game is going to come down to the final minutes - which is what this rivalry has become known for. On the plus side for the Penguins, they are healthier then the Panthers. But, the Panthers still have a lot of playmakers that can cause some trouble. Call me crazy, call me an optimist, call me a gambler, but I think YSU is going to pull this off and end the streak. Hey, I picked the Pitt upset too!