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Penn State football vs. Appalachian State: Time, TV schedule, game preview, score

Nittany Lions host Moutaineers in season opener

Penn State QB Trace McSorley is one of the best returning players in the Big Ten. (Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

UNIVERSITY PARK, Penn. – No. 9 Penn State said goodbye to perhaps the most dynamic player in college football but they have plenty in place to stay at or near the top of the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions begin another season with high expectations with a tricky opener when they play host to Appalachian State on Saturday.

TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network. LINE: Penn State -24

Saquon Barkley, who electrified the Penn State program while scoring a school-record 51 touchdowns in three years, is now a rookie with the New York Giants, yielding the full glow of the limelight to senior quarterback Trace McSorley - the second-leading passer in program history.

A late collapse and a one-point loss at Ohio State followed by a last-second defeat at Michigan State kept the Nittany Lions from a chance at a second straight Big Ten title last year, but they've won 14 straight at home.

The Mountaineers are no pushover after picking up 30 wins - including a 3-0 bowl record - over the last three years and garnering six first-place votes in the Sun Belt Conference preseason coaches' poll. They pulled off one of the biggest upsets in college football history exactly 11 years to the day with a 34-32 triumph at a highly-ranked Michigan team.

ABOUT APPALACHIAN STATE (2017: 9-4)

Zac Thomas will take over under center and can lean heavily on senior running back Jalin Moore, who had 1,037 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground last year. Thomas Hennigan hauled in seven TD catches as a freshman in 2017 and will lead a talented receiving corps.

The defensive side features a standout in the secondary in Clifton Duck, who led the Sun Belt with six interceptions as a sophomore last year after winning league Freshman of the Year honors the prior season.

ABOUT PENN STATE (2017: 11-2)

McSorley lost three of his top four targets and Barkley yields to Miles Sanders, who averaged 6.2 yards per carry as his backup a year ago.

"I can't wait," Sanders told reporters of his chance to start. "I don't like doing too much talking. That's never been me. I'm just ready to show what I can do, show the Big Ten, show everybody."

Juwan Johnson (701 receiving yards) and DeAndre Thompkins (443) step into the spotlight in the passing game, while a committee of tight ends is expected to try to fill the void left behind by Mike Gesicki, the program's all-time leader in catches, yards and TDs at the position.

EXTRA POINTS 

1. McSorley (7,369 career passing yards) needs 1,089 to pass Christian Hackenberg and become the school's all-time leader. 

2. Moore has 3,170 rushing yards, 688 behind the school's all-time leader (Marcus Cox, 2014-16).

3. This will be the first meeting between the teams.

PREDICTION: Penn State 42, Appalachian State 16

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