Thursday, July 31, 2008

Prelude to a Season... #20

#20.) Penn State

What You Need to Know: Happy Valley hasn't been so happy lately. The yearly springtime circus about Joe Paterno's future began again with vigor. ESPN took it upon themselves to basically do a one-sided hackjob on JoePa and Penn State, found here. As if criminal proceedings are anything to even raise an eyebrow over in college football anymore.

All that aside, the Nittany Lions have a good team but not a great team. And their "good" status is in jeopardy as well, considering All-American candidate LB Sean Lee went down in spring practice with a season-ending torn ACL. All things considered, what is helping Penn State stay in the OTP Top 25 are three things:
1.) A soft non-conference schedule
2.) Depth on the O-line, WR, LB, RB as well as a strong defensive unit
3.) Michigan/Illinois/Michigan State all at home

Who You Need to Know and Their 07 Stats:
RB Evan Royster: 513 yds, 5 TD
WRs Jordan Norwood, Deon Butler, Derrick Williams: Combined for 142 rec, 1646 yds, 12 TD

Game To Watch: Penn State is 0-4 against rivals Michigan and Ohio State in their last two years (both 9-win seasons). So those two loom large in the minds of the fans. But the game that will define whether or not Penn State has a shot at a special season is October 11th, a night game in Madison against a strong Wisconsin team. Win and the Nittany Lions announce themselves as a contender for the Big Ten. Lose, and it means they will probably have to sweep OSU and UM, no easy feat.

They'll Do Well If...: They win their out of conference games and beat Wisconsin.

Season Outlook: The odds of Penn State continuing their streak of nine-win seasons are slim. But eight wins and a Top 5 finish in the Big Ten should be expected.

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