STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- Kent State coach Paul Haynes made the decision to save injured star Dri Archer for Mid-American Conference competition. There was no point having the dynamic running back face Penn State on Saturday.
The Golden Flashes (1-3) totaled just 190 yards and nine first downs against the Nittany Lions and were shut out, 34-0 -- the Golden Flashes' third straight loss since opening the season with a 17-10 win over Liberty.
Archer and Trayion Durham combined for 2,745 yards last season for the nationally ranked Golden Flashes, but Archer injured his left ankle in the season-opener and has played sparingly since.
Durham was held to just 38 rushing yards and Penn State limited redshirt freshman quarterback Colin Reardon to 12 completion in 28 attempts for just 100 yards.
"We made the decision early he wasn't going to play," Haynes said. "Hopefully we'll have him this week (against Western Michigan). That's those tough decisions you make: Do you play him against Penn State or do you wait to play him in the conference?"
Archer is on a list of injured players that grew on Saturday when defensive tackle Chris Fairchild limped off with a lower right leg injury and did not return. Defensive nose guard Nate Terhune broke a leg against LSU last week.
"Year in and year out, to me that's the luck of football," Haynes said. "When people talk about being lucky, you have to stay healthy. We're banged up, we're getting a lot of guys banged up but that's no excuse. The next guy has to step up and we tell our guys every guy has to prepare because you never know when you can go."
The Golden Flashes dropped to 0-10 against Big Ten opponents, and fell to 0-4 against Penn State. The Mid-American Conference team has now been shut out in consecutive games against the Nittany Lions following a 24-0 loss at Happy Valley in 2010.
Haynes yanked Reardon for the first possession of the second half in favor of senior David Fisher before returning for the following series. That was in Kent State's game plan as well.
"We made that decision early in the week," Haynes said. "He hasn't played much and he's one play away from getting reps. So no matter what we were going to play him."
Penn State' road to the end zone was aided by a three-man rushing attack of Zach Zwinak, Bill Belton and Akeel Lynch. The trio combined for 287 yards, including a career-best 123 by Lynch. The Nittany Lions have now totaled 731 yards rushing in their past three games.
Belton opened the Lions' initial scoring drive by capping a nine-play, 87-yard set by diving into the end zone to convert a third-and-goal from the 15.
Kent State could have taken the lead on its opening drive but Anthony Melchiori missed a 31-yard field goal.
"Especially away, you want to try to get momentum with points on the board and it's definitely in Anthony's range from there, and he just pulled it. We'll take those three all the time."
But opportunities weren't plentiful after that as Penn State forced 10 punts by Melchiori, who averaged 46.5 yards per punt including one for 54 yards.
Penn State's Belton ran for 93 yards and set up two of Zwinak's three scores that included a nifty 28-yard run that eventually led to Zwinak's 2-yard plunge 5-1/2 minutes in the second quarter.
Zwinak had 65 yards rushing for Penn State, which now gets an extra week off before opening its Big Ten Conference schedule against Indiana on Oct. 5.
Penn State improved to 10-3 in its past 13 games. And coach Bill O'Brien is off to a better start after opening his first season last year at 2-2.
Quarterback Christian Hackenberg went 13 of 35 for 176 yards with a touchdown and interception. The freshman had difficulty finding his rhythm on a sloppy day as rain fell for much of the afternoon.
Safety Ryan Keiser had four tackles, a sack and a key interception that came one play after Hackenberg was picked off by Dylan Farrington to give Kent State the ball at midfield midway through the third quarter.