EDITORIAL: Penn State Football Schedule Preview
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Penn State is 0-2 in conference play for the first time since 2010, dropping out of the Top 25 for the first time since 2016. However, Penn State has a great opportunity to turn it around.
The Nittany Lions welcome Maryland to Beaver Stadium next, and this game is very winnable. Penn State opened as 24.5 point favorites over Maryland, as the Nittany Lions have not allowed a touchdown to the Terps since 2016.
Maryland has an exciting offense with Taulia Tagovailoa at quarterback, but this game is set up to get Penn State its first win of the 2020 season.
Then, the Lions get their two crossover games as they will play on the road against Nebraska, and then return home to play Iowa. These are two wins on paper for Penn State, as they are by far the more talented team in both matchups.
The Lions will then play their toughest remaining game of the season, as they travel to Ann Arbor on Thanksgiving weekend to play Michigan. I think this is an extremely winnable game, especially after seeing Michigan lose to Michigan State at home last week.
I think Penn State will win this game because their talented defense will force turnovers, and the offense will make enough big plays to win the game.
Then the Nittany Lions finish the season with games against Rutgers and Michigan State, which should be two easy wins for the Nittany Lions.
Looking at this schedule, Penn State has a legitimate chance to be 6-2 come champions week in the Big Ten on Dec. 19. If this offense continues to improve in Kirk Ciarocca’s new system, and the defense bounces back after a tough week against the best offense in the Big Ten in Ohio State, this team is going to win games.
Sean Clifford needs reps with the young wide receivers, as they missed out on a whole spring, and it has shown in the first two games.
Parker Washington and Jahan Dotson broke out as playmakers on the perimeter with Pat Friermuth as the tight end. If the receivers continue to take necessary steps, fans will see the explosive offense that they had expected coming into 2020.
The defense lost arguably the best defender in the country when Micah Parsons opted out, which has made them extremely young at the linebacker position. Lance Dixon is a true freshman who is seeing a lot of playing time, and Brandon Smith is in his second year being asked to fill the shoes of Parsons.
This defense is extremely talented, but they need to get more reps under their belt before they become elite on that side of the ball.
Penn State is a team that has improved from week one to week two. I see a super talented team that if it stays focused, will be a contender for a New Year’s Six bowl game come January.
I think this team is one year away, but a 7-2 season with a New Year’s Six bowl game is definitely still a possibility for the Nittany Lions. Penn State will need to use the rest of the season to build some confidence and draw some positives to take into 2021, which has a chance to be a special one for the Nittany Lions.
Adam Sheetz is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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