This Saturday at 1 p.m., Penn football (1-0) will take on Lafayette (1-2) in its second game of the season, hoping to avenge last year's week two loss against the Leopards. Four Daily Pennsylvanian Sports reporters make their picks ahead of the Quakers' last game before beginning Ivy competition.
Penn 21, Lafayette 10 – Eashwar Kantemneni, Deputy Sports Editor
Last week was an impressive win for the Quakers, aided by a dominant second half after being down 11 at halftime. I expect the Quakers to carry their momentum forward Saturday to beat the Leopards at Franklin Field.
Though Lafayette might be a similar opponent to Colgate rankings-wise, they are one that has a familiarity with Penn, having played the Red and Blue last year, and returning most of the starters on a strong, veteran defense. Last year, the Leopards beat the Quakers 24-14, while picking off three passes from then-quarterback John Quinnelly. After one game, though, it seems that this offense is light-years ahead compared to last season's with Sayin and Swanstrom at the helm and can easily take advantage of Lafayette’s relatively weak pass defense this year.
Defensively, Penn might face some challenges against the Leopards' passing attack, but it shouldn’t be anything that the likes of senior defensive backs Jaden Key and Kendren Smith cannot handle. And like last week, I believe limiting turnovers will be key for the Quakers’ chances at victory.
I do think that the Quakers will struggle somewhat out the gate, like last week, but can once again take over in the second half with a more open offense and motivated defense.
Penn 31, Lafayette 12 – Brandon Pride, Former Senior Sports Editor
The Quakers will avenge a disappointing season-opening loss from last year, this time relying on a strong quarterback who will build on a solid performance last week. An improved Red and Blue defense will shut down a struggling Lafayette offense that is averaging under 10 points per game through three contests. With Lafayette starting freshman quarterback Ryan Schuster, the Leopard attack will live up to its name and be quite spotty.
Sophomore quarterback Aidan Sayin of the Quakers will make fewer mistakes than last week, but in just their second game Penn’s offense still won’t be perfect. Even so, the Quakers' chances will seldom be in jeopardy on Saturday as they use it as an opportunity to tune up for the following week’s all-important Ivy-opener versus reigning co-champions Dartmouth on the road.
Penn 28, Lafayette 10 – Joey Piatt, Senior Sports Associate
As will be the case for the Quakers’ entire season, Aidan Sayin and the Penn passing game will be the biggest factor in the team’s Saturday matchup with Lafayette.
Last week against Colgate, the sophomore quarterback spread the wealth, connecting with 10 different Penn receivers. He picked apart the defense with a mix of short completions, many of which were directed to junior Joshua Casilli, as well as chunk passing plays, like his 30-yard connection to junior Sterling Stokes. A similar recipe will be key against an above-average Leopards passing defense; Lafayette ranks 59th in the FCS in passing yards allowed.
Another key will be avoiding turnovers. In last season’s 24-14 loss to the Leopards, it was a trio of interceptions that doomed the Quakers.
Expect Sayin to lead an efficient passing attack, and don’t be surprised if he throws for 300+ yards and three touchdowns in a convincing win.
Penn 24, Lafayette 7 – Walker Carnathan, Sports Reporter
After a lackluster first-half performance against Colgate last week, the Quaker offense came alive in the second half to earn a rousing 25-14 victory. But the more consistent unit was the same one that I believe will lead Penn to a victory over Lafayette: the defense.
Going back to last season, the Penn pass defense has smothered opposing air attacks, a trend which continued when Colgate quarterback Michael Brescia managed just 149 yards passing. Luckily for the Quakers, Lafayette features one of the more anemic offensive units in college football. The Leopards have scored just 27 points over their first three games, and their lone victory came in a 6-0 snoozer against Sacred Heart in their season-opener.
Expect a dominant showing for the Quaker defensive unit, and look for them to force both their first and second turnovers of the season, both by way of interception. Offensively, Penn will perform well enough to earn a comfortable victory and head into Ivy League play undefeated.