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How Would An All-Nittany Lion Team Fare In Madden NFL 21?

Can’t wait until October 24 to get your Penn State Football fix? You’ve come to the right place.

With an abundance of former Penn State football stars appearing in this year’s iteration of EA Sports’ Madden, we once again decided to see how a team of Nittany Lions would fare.

Since there is still no “create-a-team” option in Madden 21 (sad!), we needed to take control of an existing team in franchise mode. The Houston Texans, coached by former Penn State coach Bill O’Brien, were the clear choice to host this fictional squad.

A full NFL roster consists of 53 players, so while we did have enough Penn State alumni to fill our starting lineups, we needed a few placeholders to fill out the rest of our roster.

The Roster

Offense: 73 Overall

For the Nittany Lions to be successful, they’re going to need to rely on their offensive weapons. Saquon Barkley (91 overall), Chris Godwin (88 overall), and Allen Robinson (88 overall) make for an elite offensive trio that should leave these virtual defenses quaking in their boots.

Unfortunately, past the skill players, this offense is extremely lackluster. Former Penn State captain Trace McSorley gets the nod at quarterback but comes in with a rough 54 overall rating. Without an offensive lineman scoring a rating over 70, it’s safe to say McSorley has his work cut out for him this season.

Defense: 72 Overall

Former Penn State safety Adrian Amos (86 overall) will try to pilot this otherwise young secondary, as he’ll mentor defensive backs Grant Haley and Amani Oruwariye, who both come in with a rating of 71. Veteran Sean Lee (76 Overall) and Anthony Zettel (71 Overall) make for a steady linebacker group, and rookie Yetur Gross-Matos (74 Overall) should apply solid pressure for this Nittany Lion defensive line.

Special Teams

Fifteen-year veteran Robbie Gould (82 Overall) should provide some stability to the Nittany Lion’s special teams unit, and rookie KJ Hamler will attempt to give the return game some electricity with his 94 speed rating.

Season Overview:

Record: 3-13

Offensive Rank: 32nd

Defensive Rank: 32nd

In familiar fashion, Hamler returned the season’s opening kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown. Unfortunately, it was all downhill for the Nittany Lions after that.

The Nittany Lion all-stars finished last in the AFC with a 3-13 record. A 54-overall quarterback and an offensive line that gives up a league-high 63 sacks is definitely not a recipe for success. Ranked the worst offense and defense in the league, the Nittany Lions didn’t have much going for them in their 3-13 season.

Despite his nonexistent line, McSorley actually had a solid season. The former Penn State captain threw for 2,700 yards and 21 touchdowns. McSorley showed flashes of the running ability we saw at Penn State, rushing for four touchdowns and 175 yards. His nine fumbles were cause for concern, but behind that putrid line, can you really blame him?

Thankfully, this simulation didn’t mirror the events of this NFL season, as star running back Saquon Barkley was able to stay healthy while rushing for 1,203 yards and 13 scores. Like McSorley, he struggled holding onto the ball, fumbling eight times after famously never fumbling in his Penn State career.

Second-year running back Miles Sanders (81 overall) surprised many by showing his ability to be a threat as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. Sanders caught 23 passes for 290 yards and five touchdowns from his former quarterback.

The surprise of this season came in the form of wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton (70 overall). An early-season injury to Chris Godwin allowed Hamilton to explode for team-highs of 976 yards receiving and 13 touchdowns.

McSorley found comfort in his former tight end Mike Gesicki (79 overall), as the former dynamic duo linked up for 706 yards and 11 touchdowns. Gesicki was also able to score AFC offensive player of the week honors, catching three touchdown passes in a win against the Indianapolis Colts.

Allowing an average of 35 points per game and ranking dead last in the league, the defense was nothing to write home about. The low point came in a Week 16 56-3 loss at the helm of future (fake) MVP Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals.

The Penn State secondary managed to put up some decent stats. Grant Haley totaled seven interceptions, which was good for second in the league. Adrian Amos led the team with 107 tackles and chipped in three interceptions, taking one 73 yards for a score.

Yetur Gross-Matos had a solid rookie campaign, sacking the quarterback 8.5 times while recovering three fumbles.

An injury to kicker Robbie Gould paved the way for former Penn State kicker Sam Ficken (63 Overall). Despite his low rating, Ficken converted on 14 of 16 field goals this season and was a perfect 31 for 31 on extra points.


Look, as much as we love Nittany Lions, they’re just not great to build a Madden team around. Do yourself a favor and opt to root for them in real life rather than on the virtual gridiron.

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About the Author

Jack Fiorille

Jack is a senior hailing from New York majoring in public relations. He is probably the only Indianapolis Colts fan you know. Follow him on twitter @jackfiorille if you don't take life too seriously.

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