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Putting Penn State Football’s 2022 Regular Season In Perspective

Penn State’s regular season is over, folks.

Coming into the season with low expectations, the Nittany Lions finished their season with a 10-2 record and earned themselves an invitation to the Rose Bowl. On the surface, that seems like a solid season, right? But this one means much more than that, as it sets the Nittany Lions up for a potential run at a national championship in the next few years.

First of all, give credit where credit is due — to James Franklin.

Albeit very frustrating ones, Penn State’s only two losses of the season were to now-playoff teams. Yes, Penn State needs to win those games if it wants to compete for a national title, but let’s momentarily put that aside.

Outside of their two losses, the Nittany Lions outscored opponents 382-131 this season. Their closest win came in the first game of the season at Purdue when Sean Clifford led the offense down the field to set up a game-winning touchdown pass to Keyvone Lee.

In the following weeks, the Nittany Lions won each game by double digits. That’s a pretty significant step in the right direction — especially for a team that was coming off a combined 11-11 record over the last two years.

Consider the 2018 season. The Nittany Lions made fans sweat against Appalachian State at home in the season opener, then dropped a game they weren’t supposed to against Michigan State shortly after. There have been many similar examples over the years, repeatedly frustrating fans. To get to the point, there is a lot of value in consistently crushing teams that you’re supposed to.

Looking toward the future, it’s apparent that Penn State’s window to compete in the College Football Playoff is open for at least the next two years with former top-ranked quarterback recruit Drew Allar at the helm. Even though fans have been calling for Allar to start since the beginning of the season, I believe that his development went perfectly.

Allar took more snaps as a true freshman than other notable signal-callers such as CJ Stroud, Hendon Hooker, and Bryce Young. The Medina, Ohio, native got the perfect amount of game action to be able to build on that this offseason.

His experience of seeing an appropriate amount of action in all but three games this season could set him up for major success next season. Keep in mind, the learning curve between seasons is much bigger when players are younger.

The same could be said for true freshman running backs Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen.

Without this duo, Penn State could have been a 7-5 team. But the two running backs tore up opposing defenses to give Mike Yurcich’s offense an incredibly valuable asset. The development of these two young backs will only get better, and both of their dominant seasons could precede unbelievable sophomore years for each.

The Nittany Lions will also be returning some key weapons on both sides of the ball, such as offensive lineman Olu Fashanu. If injured wide receiver Parker Washington also stays in Happy Valley for another season, the Nittany Lions will have really only lost Mitchell Tinsley as a big piece of the offense.

Tinsley provided Penn State with a lot of value this season, but Omari Evans and Trey Wallace both showed flashes of being able to step into the starting rotation when needed. Again, their development will only improve in the offseason, setting up a potential juggernaut of a Penn State attack in 2023.  

Realistically, it’s hard to imagine this past season going any better for James Franklin and his squad. Penn State’s success depended on its young players to step up in their starting roles, and that’s exactly what happened. Looking at true freshmen Kaytron Allen, Nick Singelton, and Abdul Carter, it’s hard not to be impressed with the seasons they had. The same can be said for first-time starters Kalen King, Chop Robinson, and Daequan Hardy.  

It’s unlikely to turn a program around in just one year, but going 10-2 and earning a trip to the Rose Bowl is pretty good — especially after the Nittany Lions’ last few years. This season showed us that James Franklin appears to have this team heading in the right direction, which should leave Penn State fans feeling nothing but excitement for the future.

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About the Author

Frankie Marzano

Frankie is a senior accounting and economics major from Long Island, NY. You can probably recognize him as the typical Italian-American with slicked back black hair. He is an avid fan of the New York Rangers and Mets, along with every Penn State Athletics team. Follow him on Twitter @frankiemarzano for obnoxious amounts of Rangers and Penn State content or email him at [email protected].

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