Analyzing Post-Ohio State Reactions For Penn State Football
October was quite the month for Penn State football.
James Franklin’s group has dropped its last three games, including a baffling nine-overtime defeat to an inferior Illinois squad two weeks ago. Now with their 5-3 record, the Nittany Lions’ most recent loss was a bit more understandable. Penn State hung tough with Ohio State at the Horseshoe on Saturday but ultimately fell to Ryan Day’s squad by nine points.
With a trip to Maryland on the horizon, the Nittany Lions sit in a strange spot entering their last four games of the season. There’s not a whole lot of positivity at the moment, but let’s take a look at some of your takes surrounding Penn State.
‘Penn State Can Still Win Out And Make A New Year’s Six Bowl’
Will Pegler: Losing to Illinois is a blunder that can’t be ignored. However, if Penn State runs the table over these last four weeks, it’ll be a fun New Year for Nittany Lion fans. This squad would have a 9-3 record with wins over Wisconsin on the road, Auburn, Michigan, and Michigan State on the road. While moral victories don’t matter, James Franklin’s team also deserves credit for hanging tough with Ohio State — in my opinion the best team in the conference. That’s a damn good resume. Plus, with the fan base Penn State always brings to bowl games, they’d absolutely deserve to be playing in a top-tier postseason contest.
Sam Brungo: Without a doubt. If Penn State wins out, which I think it can and will, it has to be recognized as one of the top teams in the country — even with three losses.
Gabe Angieri: If Penn State wins out, I think it could make a New Year’s Six Bowl. Boasting a 9-3 record with close losses to Ohio State and Iowa on their resume, the Nittany Lions would be well-positioned for a bowl game of that kind. However, I personally think Penn State will drop one more game this year, either against Michigan or Michigan State.
Ryan Parsons: It’s hard to know what version of Penn State we’re going to get going forward. If you subscribe to the theory that losses against Iowa and Illinois only came because of injury, they could win out. But, that loss to Illinois is still a huge scarlet letter. Kenneth Walker III will absolutely demolish the Nittany Lions’ defense if it shows any semblance to the Illinois game. Ohio State’s backs were managed well, save for a few plays, so that could be a good sign moving forward. Yes, a NY6 bowl is still possible, but Penn State will really need to buy in and buckle down.
‘Penn State’s Wide Receiver Group Is Going To Have A Dominant Finish To This Season’
Will Pegler: Jahan Dotson and Parker Washington both had 100-yard nights against the Buckeyes and are clearly trending in the right direction. Along with that, KeAndre Lambert-Smith had a couple of clutch third-down grabs after coming off a touchdown against Illinois. With a healthy Sean Clifford, these wideouts can ball out against any defense. Considering how bad Penn State’s rushing attack has been, each of those guys will continue to play a massive role in Mike Yurcich’s offense.
Sam Brungo: This is one of the best position rooms in the country. All three starting wideouts are reliable and are game-changers. The prediction that they finish dominant stands true as long as the person throwing them the ball stays healthy and reliable, as well.
Gabe Angieri: I agree with this. Jahan Dotson is a stud, and Parker Washington and KeAndre Lambert-Smith are on the rise. As Sean Clifford continues to get closer to 100%, it’ll just increase the number of opportunities for the wideouts.
Ryan Parsons: Maybe. There’s no doubt that guys like Dotson and Washington are the real deal, and KLS has shown plenty of flashes as well. But, even with the success Penn State’s receivers have had so far, the lack of a real deep ball is concerning. Dotson is certainly a deep threat, but he’s rarely truly taken the top off the defense. Clifford will need to complete on more long balls in order to be “dominant.”
‘The Nittany Lions Can Still Prove They’re The Second-Best Team In The Big Ten’
Will Pegler: I see it as a very real possibility that Penn State wins its last four games. If that indeed happens, the Nittany Lions are absolutely the second-best team in the conference. Let’s be honest here and acknowledge that Penn State would’ve beat Iowa if Sean Clifford didn’t get hurt. It’s pretty tough to explain the Illinois game, but if James Franklin can beat Michigan and Michigan State down the stretch, the eye test says his team is No. 2 in the conference — behind the big bad Buckeyes of course.
Sam Brungo: Win out and that spot belongs to Penn State. Honestly, I already think the Nittany Lions are. After watching the Michigan-Michigan State game, I feel that Penn State can handily take care of the rest of the opponents on its schedule, just as it would’ve against Iowa had Clifford not been injured.
Gabe Angieri: If Penn State wins out, yes, this is true. However, I don’t think the Nittany Lions will win out, which would put them as the third or fourth-best team in the conference, in my opinion.
Ryan Parsons: Penn State can do this, but I don’t know if it will. Even if the Nittany Lions end up boasting wins over Michigan and Michigan State, the Illinois loss is hard to ignore. They would really need a dominant home stretch to prove it’s the second-best team, which is clearly Sparty right now. Even with a head-to-head win over Michigan State, Penn State would need to do a lot to prove it’s No. 2.
‘If Penn State Loses To Maryland, Someone Is Losing Their Job’
Will Pegler: I don’t think Penn State is going to lose to Maryland…right?
But seriously, I see the Nittany Lions finally getting the monkey off their back and taking down the Terrapins in a “revenge” game. If they manage to choke in College Park and drop yet another, I’m sure folks will immediately be calling for James Franklin’s job. Whether or not that’s a fair reaction is a whole other discussion, but you can all hope we don’t have to discuss it.
Sam Brungo: Not sure which is more of an overreaction: that the Nittany Lions will lose to Maryland or that if they do, someone will get fired. Both smell unlikely to me.
Gabe Angieri: Even if Penn State loses to Maryland, I doubt someone on the coaching staff would lose their job. It seems unlikely a change would be made midseason, but it could lead to some changes being made after the season.
Ryan Parsons: This is hilarious, but it’s an overreaction. Maryland is sneaky good this year under Taulia Tagovailoa, so a loss to the Terps wouldn’t be as bad as the loss to Illinois. Heads aren’t going to roll right away.
‘A Lack Of A Run Game Will Be The Barrier To Winning Out’
Will Pegler: I’m not a football coach nor an expert in offensive scheme, so I’m not going to act like I can clearly point to the issues in Penn State’s rushing attack. Whether, it’s guys not hitting holes or holes not being there because of offensive line struggles, the fact of the matter is it’s really, really bad. If the Nittany Lions struggle to do anything against Big Ten defenses, namely the Spartans and Wolverines, it will be because they simply don’t have to respect the run game.
Sam Brungo: Okay, I give in. The run game is dead. I’ve tried to stay optimistic about this group, but they just seem so lost. It stood in the way against Illinois, so there shouldn’t be much hope that it will step up down the stretch.
Gabe Angieri: Penn State can’t run the ball, and that’ll be one of the reasons why it doesn’t win out.
Ryan Parsons: Yup. You gotta run the football. Penn State clearly cannot. I think John Lovett is a real stud and Keyvone Lee has potential, but these guys aren’t going to just suddenly pull everything together at this point. It’s hard to win against good teams when your offense is so one-dimensional. Sean Clifford threw the ball more than 50 times against Ohio State, which statistically led to some costly mistakes.
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This marks the first time the Nittany Lions are left out of the preseason poll since 2016.