Nittany Lions Ranked No. 24 In ESPN’s Future Power Rankings
Between the rescinded NCAA sanctions and James Franklin’s success on the recruiting trail, it’s fairly common knowledge that Penn State football is on the rise. The bigger question remains: Just how good will they be, and how soon?
At least one media outlet thinks Penn State can rank among the top teams in the country fairly soon — within a few years, to be exact.
ESPN released its future power rankings, which ranks college football teams and how good they will be over the next three years based on coaching, recruiting, current talent, how difficult the path to a championship would be, and how strong of a foundation the school has (i.e. tradition). Penn State came in at No. 24 overall, and fourth in the Big Ten, falling behind Ohio State (No. 1 overall), Michigan (No. 15 overall), and Michigan State (No. 18 overall), all of which are Big Ten East foes.
To nobody’s surprise, ESPN listed recruiting as Penn State’s strength, coming off of a top-15 class in 2015, with another projected top-15 class on the way in 2016. As evidenced by the three other Big Ten East teams ahead of the Nittany Lions, the team’s biggest weakness is its title path, as it will need to beat these three teams just to get to the Big Ten Championship. The Big Ten East has recently become one of the toughest conferences in college football, with not only the reigning National Champions topping the list of a number of talented teams, but Maryland and Rutgers both joining the fray after migrating in 2014 from the ACC and AAC, respectively.
While the ranking is great, the key for Penn State will be to deliver the wins to live up to the ranking, and 2015 is the perfect opportunity to make that happen. The Nittany Lions have what most consider a cakewalk non-conference schedule, followed by a loaded — but well-matched — conference schedule. The opportunity is there for James Franklin and company, they just need to put their money where their mouth is and take advantage of it.