No. 7 Penn State and former perennial foe West Virginia meet for the first time since 1992 when the two squads open the season on Saturday night.
The Nittany Lions have won 32 of the past 34 matchups, including a 40-26 road win on Oct. 24, 1992 when Kerry Collins was Penn State’s star quarterback.
The Nittany Lions left the independent ranks and moved into the Big Ten the following season and there was no room on the schedule to continue playing the Mountaineers. Penn State holds a 48-9-2 edge in the series and is 31-3 at home.
The contest is expected to be the starting debut of highly regarded quarterback Drew Allar, who in his first season on campus backed up Penn State all-time passing yardage leader Sean Clifford (10,661) in 2022.
Allar and Beau Pribula opened fall drills as the lone competitors for the starting spot.
The 6-foot-5 Allar passed for 344 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in 60 attempts last season. He has impressed coach James Franklin.
“I think the things that jump out to you right away is he can make a couple throws very few people on the planet can make,” Franklin recently told reporters.
Allar has embraced the buildup as he prepared to take over a team that went 11-2 last season and beat Utah 35-21 in the Rose Bowl.
“It’s really cool,” said Allar, “but it’s not just me that people should be excited for.”
Pribula redshirted last season in his first campaign on campus.
Penn State should have one of the top running back groups in the country. Nicholas Singleton (1,061 yards, 12 touchdowns) and Kaytron Allen (867 yards, 10 touchdowns) had big seasons on the ground as freshmen last season and former Minnesota starter Trey Potts transferred in to make it a trio.
Also, offensive tackle Olu Fashanu and cornerback Kalen King (three interceptions in 2022) were named preseason first-team All-Americans.
West Virginia (5-7 in 2022) also hasn’t formally named a starting quarterback but Garrett Greene is expected to get the call over Nicco Marchiol.
Greene has made two career starts. In three seasons with the Mountaineers, he has passed for 664 yards, five touchdowns (all in 2022) and three interceptions and rushed for 622 yards and nine scores.
Marchiol was 4-of-13 passing for 61 yards and one touchdown last season.
“They know,” Brown said Monday of the decision. “We just haven’t done anything real formal with it, but I think they have a good understanding. Here is the thing: We’ve got two really good quarterbacks. I feel good about both of them. One of them is a little bit further ahead, and that’s kind of where it is.”
Whoever wins the quarterback job will lead a team that was predicted to finish last in the 14-team Big 12.
Brown, who is just 22-25 in four seasons at West Virginia, was not thrilled with the prediction.
“Looking forward to proving everybody wrong on that front,” Brown said. “We won’t finish there.”
Defensively, the Mountaineers had a conference-low four interceptions last season. But they do return two solid playmakers in linebacker Lee Kpogba (team-high 92 tackles) and safety Aubrey Burks (66 stops).
–Field Level Media