A Look At How Penn State Football’s Opponents Fared This Season
Heading into the season, Penn State football was deemed to have a weak schedule. Well, after the dust has settled, it looks like the Nittany Lions’ schedule may not have been so bad after all. Let’s take a look at how Penn State’s opponents fared this season.
Temple Owls (10-3)
The Owls’ 27-10 win over Penn State was merely the beginning of arguably the most dominant season in school history, and easily the most exciting in recent memory for a Temple team that went winless in 2005.
Temple ripped through the opening half of its AAC schedule en route to a 7-0 start and a No. 21 ranking before losing a heartbreaker to Notre Dame 24-20 on Halloween Night. Behind star linebacker and Nagurski Award winner Tyler Matakevich and running back Jahad Thomas, the Owls went onto win the AAC East Division crown, but fell to Houston in the AAC Championship. Things are still looking up for Temple, though — it just signed Matt Rhule to a six-year extension, and will finish its season against Toledo in the Boca Raton Bowl.
Buffalo Bulls (5-7)
The Bulls proved to be a tough opponent for the Nittany Lions, and they remained a tough opponent throughout the season. First-year head coach Lance Leipold had Buffalo needing just one win in order to gain bowl eligibility with Northern Illinois, Akron, and UMass remaining on the schedule. Unfortunately for the Bulls, they dropped their last three games, and will be at home watching the bowl games like the rest of us.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights (4-8)
This was a difficult season for Penn State’s New Jersey-based conference “rival.” Despite Kyle Flood earning himself a three game suspension, the Scarlet Knights managed to go 3-3 through six contests, and had a real chance at becoming bowl eligible.
Instead, Rutgers finished the season losing five of its last six games, and Flood was shown the door after one of the worst second-half collapses in program history. Former Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash was recently named the program’s new head coach, and will be counted on to right the ship in Piscataway.
San Diego State Aztecs (10-3)
San Diego State came into its week three matchup in Happy Valley with little fanfare, and after falling to Penn state 37-21, the Aztecs didn’t lose a game the rest of the season. They ran through the Mountain West conference slate, winning every contest by at least two touchdowns. San Diego State then took down a talented Air Force team in the Mountain West Championship, and will wrap up its season against Cincinnati in the Hawaii Bowl.
Army Black Knights (2-9)
The Black Knights came close to knocking off Penn State, but the rest of their season was a disaster. Army’s only two wins this season came against 1-11 Eastern Michigan, and 4-7 Bucknell from the Patriot League. The year isn’t over quite yet — all eyes will be on the Black Knights when they meet Navy on December 12 in one of the best rivalries in college football.
Indiana Hoosiers (6-6)
Kevin Wilson’s fifth season couldn’t have started any better. The Hoosiers were 4-0, and nearly knocked off Ohio State, but Indiana couldn’t keep its momentum, and dropped to 4-6. Still, the Hoosiers were able to salvage the season, winning their final two games over Maryland and Purdue to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2007. They’ll meet up against Duke in the Pinstripe Bowl.
Ohio State Buckeyes (11-1)
The Buckeyes had high hopes coming into the season, but they couldn’t live up to National Championship expectations. Ohio State rolled through the rest of the Big Ten, but Michigan State again proved to be Urban Meyer’s kryptonite, defeating the Buckeyes and knocking them out of the College Football Playoff picture. Ohio State will have to settle for a Fiesta Bowl matchup against Notre Dame — what a rough life in Columbus.
Maryland Terrapins (3-9)
The Terrapins lost to Bowling Green, West Virginia, Michigan, Ohio State, and fired Randy Edsall in the middle of the season. They then lost to Penn State, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Indiana. After months of rumors that Bill O’Brien and Chip Kelly were in play for Maryland, the Terrapins hired former Michigan defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin to resurrect the program, along with former head coaches Scott Shafer and Mike London to serve in assistant roles.
Illinois Illini (5-7)
Despite firing Tim Beckman just days before the season opener, interim head coach Bill Cubit had the Illini on the right track in leading the school to a 4-1 start. Unfortunately for the Illini, the success couldn’t last. The wheels fell off the bus, and Illinois finished the season 1-6 and failed to qualify for a bowl game. The interim tag was taken off Cubit, who was named head coach and signed to a two-year contract.
Northwestern Wildcats (10-2)
Northwestern does have a terrific 16-6 win over Pac-12 Champion Stanford, and while it deserves credit for winning a number of high-profile games, it could be the least impressive 10-win team from a Power-5 conference. In eight of Northwestern’s 10 wins, the Wildcats won by only 10 points or less. They’ll face a much stiffer test in the Outback Bowl, when they meet up with a red-hot 8-4 Tennessee team that hasn’t lost since Oct. 24.
Michigan Wolverines (9-3)
After taking over a 5-7 program, Jim Harbaugh’s first season with the Wolverines went about as well as it could have. Michigan’s three losses came against three upper-echelon teams — Utah, Michigan State, and Ohio State — meaning it’s safe to say that things are looking up in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines will look to cap off their season with a victory over Florida in the Citrus Bowl.
Michigan State Spartans (12-1)
The Spartans navigated through a difficult schedule, going on the road and beating Michigan and Ohio State, and then scoring a late touchdown to win the Big Ten Championship over a previously undefeated Iowa. Michigan State was reward for its stellar season by earning a spot in the College Football Playoff, where it’ll square off against Nick Saban and Alabama in the semi-final.