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Herbstreit Stans Nittany Lions For Playoff, McSorley For Heisman

ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit may be an Ohio State graduate, but he’s still completely in love with Penn State football.

He not only picked quarterback Trace McSorley to win the Heisman trophy, but he also projects that the Nittany Lions will be one of the last four teams standing once the College Football Playoff is announced at the end of the year.

In an interview with USA Today, Herbstreit poured on the praise for McSorley and Penn State head coach James Franklin. The “College GameDay” personality may have picked Georgia’s Kirby Smart as his coach of the year, but he commended Franklin for his work on the recruiting trail.

“I think James Franklin is a great coach,” Herbstreit told USA Today. “I’m a huge fan. He won at Vanderbilt, he won at Penn State. Think about what he inherited … I know Bill O’Brien did a good job. But he’s made it cool to go to Penn State again. You know how hard that is after all they went through? When kids in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey say, ‘I’m going to Penn State,’ it used to be like, ‘Oh, that’s your only [major] offer.’ He did that.”

As for McSorley’s chances to win the most famous trophy in college sports? Vegas has him in a tie with Will Grier for the third-highest odds to win at 15/1 behind Tua Tagovailoa and Khalil Tate. But Herbstreit thinks McSorley can get over the hump, picking Penn State’s signal caller to become the first Nittany Lion to win the Heisman since John Cappelletti took it home in 1972.

“He’s the Baker Mayfield of this year as far as intangibles, what he means to this team, attitude, how he plays with a chip on his shoulder,” Herbstreit told USA Today. “I’m not talking first [overall] pick, just what he means to his team in 2018 reminds me a lot of Baker. … I think they’ve got a chip because people made it seem like it was more about Saquon Barkley, and I think they’re out to prove to people, ‘No, no, no, we have more in this program than Saquon Barkley.’”

Despite his clear infatuation with Happy Valley, Herbstreit doesn’t think his heartthrobs can top the quality shown by college football titans like Alabama and Clemson.

He put the Nittany Lions and Washington in his four-team CFP field along with the Crimson Tide and Tigers, citing those two team’s dominance as impossible to pick against. According to Herbstreit, Penn State will lose to Dabo Sweeney’s program in the national semifinals, setting up another Clemson-Bama final.

This is certainly not the first time Herbstreit has had nice things to say about Penn State football. He’s praised Penn State’s student section numerous times, wants his four sons to emulate Penn State’s players, and even called the team’s 2016 Big Ten title run college football’s story of the year. And even though he didn’t pick them to go all the way, we still appreciate the attention. 

We love you, too, Herbie. And don’t worry — we won’t let Brutus find out.

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

In the most upsetting turn of events, Mikey graduated from Penn State with a digital & print journalism degree in the spring of 2020. He covered Penn State football and served as an editor for Onward State from 2018 until his graduation. Mikey is from Bedminster, New Jersey, so naturally, he spends lots of time yelling about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey also loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is really hard. If you, for some reason, feel compelled to see what Mikey has to say on the internet, follow him on Twitter @Mikey_Mandarino. You can also get in touch with Mikey via his big-boy email address: [email protected]

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