Penn State is ranked No. 11 in ESPN.com‘s way-too-early 2018 Top 25 rankings for 2018 by Mark Schlabach. The Nittany Lions check in behind a top ten that features three Big Ten teams ahead of them – No. 3 Ohio State, No. 6 Wisconsin, and No. 9 Michigan State.
Schlabach explains his reasoning behind Penn State’s position in the poll well, noting that the Blue and White have to replace Saquon Barkley, Joe Moorhead, and eight defensive starters. Not to mention the fact that Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin all appear on the 2018 slate.
However, Schlabach notes that all but the Michigan game will take place in Beaver Stadium.
Schlabach finishes his quick outlook on the 2018 Nittany Lions by touching on the potential shown by new offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne. With Trace McSorley matched up with Rahne and a plethora of experienced skill position players around him, Schlabach thinks he might be a darkhorse Heisman contender.
Last year, Schlabach ranked Penn State at No. 4, ahead of Ohio State, Clemson, and Wisconsin. The ESPN writer also correctly predicted Alabama as this season’s national champion.
Michigan is the only other Big Ten school featured in the poll, coming in at No. 13.
Joe Moorhead’s Mississippi State Bulldogs garnered some love of their own, as the SEC West squad locked up the No. 19 ranking. That sits good enough for fourth overall in the SEC.