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Staff Picks: Bold Predictions For Penn State Football’s 2022 Season

We like to think that we’re bold journalists here at Onward State, and that mentality extends to our football predictions.

Coming off a disappointing 7-6 campaign, Penn State football will try to right the ship and return to national prominence. In order for that to happen, James Franklin’s squad will need some breakout performances and bounce-back seasons from its players.

So, with just over one week left before Penn State’s prime-time opener against Purdue, some of our staffers have some hot takes about the Nittany Lions’ upcoming season

Adam Babetski: Penn State Will Defeat Ohio State

…but only win seven games on the season. Maybe this is just blind hope since I’m a senior, and partying downtown after beating the team from the worst state ever is on my bucket list. But, it’s more realistic than it sounds. The last time Penn State beat Ohio State, it was an unranked team with low expectations. The Buckeyes also have a history of overlooking their opponents who they don’t share a “rivalry” with.

Because of TV scheduling, Ohio State will [likely] play a rare noon game in Happy Valley. The Buckeyes might get caught sleeping, like most of us otherwise would be at that time on a Saturday.

Joe Lister: Christian Veilleux Will Start By The Second Half Of The Season

He isn’t the sexiest quarterback name in the room, but from the short looks we got last year, he seems to have some solid qualities. If Sean Clifford becomes just too frustrating for James Franklin, it wouldn’t be shocking to me if he makes a change.

Nolan Wick: Penn State’s Passing Game Will Thrive

Despite Jahan Dotson’s departure, there is reason to believe Penn State’s passing game will thrive this season. Perhaps the biggest reason for this is that there is finally stability with Mike Yurcich returning as the offensive coordinator, marking the first time Sean Clifford will have the same offensive coordinator for two consecutive seasons.

However, there’s more. Landing Mitchell Tinsley from Western Kentucky provides the offense with a major boost, and he has the potential to be one of the best skill players in the Big Ten. Meanwhile, Parker Washington and KeAndre Lambert-Smith have continued to develop into reliable targets in Yurcich’s system. Therefore, it is reasonable to be optimistic about this group.

Tobey Prime: Sean Clifford Will Win The Heisman Trophy 

I may catch heat for this take, but I believe Clifford’s last dance with the Nittany Lions will be truly magical. 

Say what you want about the Big Red Dog, but he’s our guy. He looked fantastic before that injury in Penn Sate’s loss to Iowa that dismantled the team’s season. However, with another year in Mike Yurcich’s offense and his last year enjoying $2 dirty sprites at Champs, I believe Clifford will flourish. 

Please give us a Kenny Pickett year, Sean. You’re the only quarterback I’ve watched during my time here at Penn State. Ball out, Big Red Dog.

Sam Fremin: The Linebackers Will Perform Better Than Last Year

They’ve been hearing it all offseason. With three linebackers entering the NFL Draft last year, the expected hole in the linebacking corps looms large. However, LBU is not known for being a question mark. It’s known for results.

Curtis Jacobs enters this season criminally underrated after he was left off the Butkus Award watch list despite a strong 2021. The highly experienced Jonathan Sutherland is permanently converting to a linebacker. Plus, defensive coordinator Manny Diaz has reported strong competition from the young players vying for starting spots.

Fans can expect Diaz will clean up some of the weak tackling that plagued the Nittany Lions last season. If the quality of Penn State’s depth is anything close to what the staff has reported, there’s no reason the unit can’t excel.

Ryan Parsons: Penn State Steals A Win In The Big House

By the time this game actually rolls around, this might not be that bold of a prediction because I think Michigan is massively overrated. The Wolverines currently have second-best odds to come out of the Big Ten, but I think Wisconsin and Penn State have a much better shot. Much of what made Michigan such a dangerous team last year is gone. A generational duo of edge rushers and coordinators on both sides of the ball have departed — and even that team was a few deep shots to Cam Sullivan-Brown away from dropping its game against Penn State.

A win over Michigan in Ann Arbor could open up massive opportunities for the Nittany Lions, who would be heading into a White Out against Minnesota and a date with Ohio State in the next two weeks. James Franklin is yet to win in the Big House in front of fans, but this might just be his chance to do it.

Frankie Marzano: Sean Clifford Will Break Trace McSorley’s All-Time Passing Yards Record

One might say it’s a given that Clifford will break the record since he will be entering his sixth year at Penn State, but it would still be an impressive feat. Nittany Lions legend Trace McSorley currently holds the record at 9,899 career passing yards, which is 2,060 in front of Clifford’s 7,839. Granted that he stays healthy, Clifford will have a career year and hold Penn State’s all-time passing yards record by the end of the season.

Gabe Angieri: Nicholas Singleton Will Rush For 1,000 Yards

Penn State hasn’t had a 1,000-yard rusher since 2018 when Miles Sanders totaled 1,274 yards on the ground. That’ll change in 2022.

True freshman running back Nicholas Singleton is going to make an immediate impact, folks. There’s been no shortage of praise for the Reading, Pennsylvania, native this offseason, and I expect him to eventually earn the bulk of the carries in the backfield.

It’s simple — run the damn ball.

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