Your Penn State Football Bye Week Rooting Guide

While it seems as though Penn State football’s campaign just kicked off under the lights during its home-opening battle with West Virginia, the Nittany Lions are nearly halfway through their regular-season slate with the bye week looming. 

James Franklin’s squad has since ripped off five-straight wins, outscoring opponents by 31 points per game behind complementary, grind-it-out offensive play paired with the nation’s top-ranked total defense manning opposing attacks.

Although it’s a tall order for Penn State fans to adhere to Franklin’s patented “1-0” mantra without the Nittany Lions taking the gridiron this weekend, several matchups across college football’s landscape could potentially shake up the blue and white’s spot in the national polls on Sunday afternoon. 

With Penn State preparing for a two-week stretch comprised of UMass and Ohio State, let’s dive into what games to keep an eye on during the Nittany Lions’ off week. 

Who To Root For

Keep it simple, folks. Root for Ohio State and Michigan — hard. 

Penn State’s path to eclipsing college football’s four-team postseason is simple. If the Nittany Lions are able to win the remainder of the contests they’ll play as likely favorites, Franklin’s crew will have two battles hanging in the balance with top-four units. 

Between the Buckeyes’ bout with Penn State in two weeks, head coach Ryan Day’s team is prepped to square off with Maryland and Purdue over its next two showings. The Terrapins are 5-0 behind Taulia Tagovailoa’s steady presence under center as the Big Ten’s current passing leader and took Ohio State to a four-quarter bout in College Park a year ago. 

When the Nittany Lions head to Columbus in two weeks, all parties involved would prefer if the Buckeyes remained undefeated for one of the sport’s most anticipated games of the regular season. 

Before embarking to Happy Valley for a November road trip, Michigan’s next four opponents boast a combined 9-11 record, with a prime-time matchup at Minnesota looming. 

While Huntington Bank Stadium has proven to provide the Golden Gophers with a raucous, home-field environment when top 10 units travel to the Twin Cities, the Wolverines enter Saturday as three-score favorites and are expected to roll over the eighth-best defense in the conference. 

Outside of the Big Ten, Penn State fans should continue to pay close attention to West Virginia’s sudden ascension. The Mountaineers are 4-0 since falling in Beaver Stadium, and with a depleted Houston group up next, Neal Brown’s team could sneak into the AP Top 25 with another victory. 

Who To Root Against

At this point in the season, Penn State fans should root against squads that could likely block the Nittany Lions out of the four-team dance with an 11-1 finish. 

If Texas A&M takes down Alabama at Kyle Field, the SEC’s path to representing two teams in the College Football Playoff becomes much more narrow. With a loss, the Crimson Tide’s national title hopes would effectively end, and either the Aggies, Kentucky, or Ole Miss would need to pull off a slew of late-season upsets to receive playoff consideration. 

Moreover, Nittany Lions’ fans should put on their Linebacker U apparel, settle in, and root against Florida State in favor of former defensive coordinator Brent Pry’s Virginia Tech squad. 

The Seminoles are more than 21-point favorites at home, but the nation’s fifth-ranked group hasn’t put together a complete game since knocking off LSU in week one behind a 342-yard display from quarterback Jordan Travis. 

With a Florida State loss, the ACC would almost entirely remove itself from playoff contention as a conference, with Miami, Louisville, and North Carolina standing as the only remaining units that could potentially steal a bid from an 11-1 Penn State team at the season’s conclusion. 

Nittany Lion fans should also root against Georgia and Notre Dame on Saturday, but other than Oklahoma possibility upsetting Texas in the Red River Showdown, it would be hard to imagine Penn State being jumped in the polls entering next week’s Homecoming showing with UMass. 

While nothing beats fall Saturdays at Beaver Stadium, the bye week should undoubtedly be used to regroup, relax, and tune into other high-profile matchups across the Big Ten and beyond throughout the week-six slate. 

In just eight short days, the Nittany Lions will return to the Greatest Show in College Sports for a late out-of-conference matchup before heading to Columbus for a current top-six bout with the Buckeyes.

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About the Author

Connor Krause

Connor Krause is a senior from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania double majoring in journalism and business. He is a lifelong Penn State football and basketball fan and enjoys rooting for Pittsburgh sports teams. In his free time, Connor can be found playing golf or pick-up basketball. You can follow his Twitter and Instagram @ckrause_31.

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