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An Early Look At Penn State Football’s Updated 2020 Schedule

Last week, the Big Ten released its updated conference-only football schedules and gave fans a look at what college football might look like amid the coronavirus pandemic.

As rumors surrounding the season’s potential cancellation continue to swirl, the Nittany Lions are just about four weeks away from kicking off the season against Northwestern.

Although we can’t predict if the team will actually wind up taking the field, we can fire up the crystal ball and envision how Penn State’s upcoming season will play out through its updated 10-game schedule.

Week One: September 5 vs. Northwestern

Northwestern really, really struggled last year, and I don’t see that changing in 2020. The Wildcats finished with a 3-9 record in 2019, and I expect the Nittany Lions to roll over a team that likely hasn’t improved much since an ugly season.

Pat Fitzgerald’s squad seems to always play scrappy on defense, and I don’t think Penn State’s offense will explode during the first game of the year. Despite that, I see Brent Pry’s unit shutting down a Northwestern team that averaged just 16.3 points per game last season.

Prediction: Penn State 30, Northwestern 6

Week Two: September 12 @ Indiana

The Hoosiers kept it close against James Franklin’s squad at Beaver Stadium last fall, but the Nittany Lions will make sure to win in a more convincing way in Bloomington during week two.

Penn State’s offense will hit its stride against Indiana while the defense holds its own. I expect Sean Clifford to showcase his experience by throwing for a few scores and leading the Nittany Lions to a three-possession victory.

Prediction: Penn State 35, Indiana 14

Week Three: September 19 @ Michigan

The Wolverines are going to come into this game pissed off after losing a heartbreaker at the 2019 White Out. While Jim Harbaugh’s squad will technically have home field advantage, things will be plenty different in a nearly empty Michigan Stadium.

Michigan will likely have some talent in young quarterback Dylan McCaffrey, and I expect him to have a fairly impressive day against the Nittany Lions. Harbaugh’s squad will hang in throughout, but a couple of big runs from Journey Brown will help seal the deal for Penn State.

Along with a well-executed two-minute drill to close things out, I expect the Nittany Lion defense to force multiple key turnovers to help swing the die throughout. Expect Penn State to leave Ann Arbor with a victory by the skin of its teeth.

Prediction: Penn State 24, Michigan 20

Week Four: September 26 vs. Michigan State

The Spartans always seem to play Penn State close, and an empty Beaver Stadium won’t do any favors for the Nittany Lions.

Despite the weird vibe that’ll surround Beaver Stadium during what’s normally an anticipated match up, I expect Penn State to get the win. Sean Clifford will stay hot against a solid Sparty defense and Jahan Dotson will hit his stride as a key receiving target by hauling in multiple scores.

It may be tight, but expect the Nittany Lions to move to 4-0 on the season to finish up September.

Prediction: Penn State 31, Michigan State 24

Week Five: October 3 @ Rutgers

Rutgers is bad at football, folks.

The Scarlet Knights didn’t win a game in the Big Ten last year, and that’s not going to change against the Nittany Lions. Penn State won’t struggle much against Greg Schiano’s squad on the way to its fifth win of the season.

Prediction: Penn State 48, Rutgers 3

Week Six: October 17 vs. Maryland

After an easy victory against Rutgers during week five, Penn State will continue to roll when the Terps come to Happy Valley after a bye week.

On their way to another win, I think the Nittany Lions will find a way to get some time for second-string players against Maryland. After Sean Clifford does his thing, James Franklin will likely get some time for Will Levis under behind center.

Along with Levis, some young defensive players will make a couple big plays for the Nittany Lions en route to a week six victory.

Prediction: Penn State 38, Maryland 7

Week Seven: October 24 vs. Iowa

Iowa is a gritty football team, and it will play hard against the Nittany Lions during this late-October battle.

Kirk Ferentz’s squad kept it close in a defensive clash against Penn State last fall. Even without home field advantage, I expect the Hawkeyes to play a similar game this time around. Penn State’s #LawnBoyz will need to step up while Sean Clifford may struggle against a stingy defensive unit, but the Nittany Lions should get enough stops to roll to another win.

Prediction: Penn State 20, Iowa 13

Week Eight: October 31 @ Nebraska

Scott Frost is trying to bring Nebraska back to national prominence, but I don’t think the Cornhuskers will arrive just yet in 2020. The Nittany Lions will manage their eighth straight victory against Nebraska thanks to the fact that they’re quite simply a more talented football team.

Sean Clifford will bounce back after a tough day against Iowa, and Jayson Oweh and the rest of Penn State’s defense will dominate Nebraska’s offensive line.

It’s officially November, folks, and the Nittany Lions remain undefeated.

Prediction: Penn State 45, Nebraska 14

Week Nine: November 7 vs. Ohio State

A whole lot is going to change in the world of college football this fall, but Ohio State’s continued dominance over Penn State will remain.

Justin Fields is extremely tough to stop, and has plenty of other options on offense. On defense, it seems the Buckeyes develop and reload talent year after year. Penn State is clearly a great football team, but I don’t think they’re quite on Ohio State’s level just yet.

If Penn State had the advantage of the White Out on its side, things may be different, but that clearly isn’t the case. The Nittany Lions may hang around early, but Ohio State will pick up its fourth consecutive victory against James Franklin’s squad.

Prediction: Ohio State 38, Penn State 27

Week Ten: November 21 @ Illinois

The Illini were the 10th Big Ten team added to Penn State’s conference-only schedule. I see the addition as a victory for the Nittany Lions, as Illinois finished at a mediocre 6-7 last season.

After an unprecedented and strange season, Penn State will be inspired to finish off the year with a big victory over Illinois. I expect the offense to dominate and put up their first 50-burger of the season against Lovie Smith’s squad, while the defense will take care of business.

Prediction: Penn State 52, Illinois 10

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About the Author

Will Pegler

Will is a senior majoring in digital and print journalism and is an associate editor for Onward State. He is from Darien, Connecticut and is a lifelong Penn State football fan. He loves a good 80's comedy movie, Peaky Blinders, The Office, and the New York Yankees and Giants. You can catch some of his ridiculous sports takes on his Twitter @gritdude and yell at him on his email [email protected]

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