2017 Prespring Rankings: No. 10 Penn State Nittany Lions
The 2017 prespring college football rankings, taking the first look at the Penn State Nittany Lions
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No. 10: Penn State Nittany Lions
Penn State Nittany Lions Prespring Status
It doesn’t matter that Penn State lost the epic Rose Bowl shootout to USC. The Nittany Lions had already won the season.
Going on a nine-game winning streak, getting by Ohio State, blowing past Wisconsin in the second half to take the Big Ten title – no one had any of this as a part of the 2016 master plan. And now the expectations will be there to do it all again, with the offense as fun as any in the country once it got rolling – a big first half, though, would be nice – along with a defense that was fantastic up until the trip to Pasadena.
WR Chris Godwin left early for the NFL, but nine starters return to the devastating attack. The defense has a few issues, but seven starters are back along with both kickers. 2017 was the year things were supposed to come together under James Franklin, but no one in Happy Valley is complaining about the moved up timetable.
Penn State Nittany Lions Biggest Issue
Penn State got defensive production in the backfield from just about everywhere – 25 players came up with a tackle for loss, and 12 cranked up at least one sack – so it shouldn’t matter if a few of the key parts are gone, right? Maybe, but it’s still a concern losing ends Evan Schwan and Garrett Sickels, along with LB Brandon Bell. These were three of the team’s top four pass rushers, and now one of the big focuses on spring ball will be to find the next disruptive force on the outside.
Penn State Nittany Lions Biggest Positive
Trace McSorley is a Big Ten champion quarterback now, Saquon Barkley might just be the best returning running back in college football, and while Godwin is gone, the other 12 players who caught at least one pass are back. And the offensive line that was such a disaster a few years ago? It’s going to be a rock, especially with four starters returning. Averaging 500 yards per game isn’t too lofty a goal after averaging 433 last year.
Really, Why Are The Penn State Nittany Lions Ranked Here?
Can the Nittany Lions really and truly be that good again? Can they turn on the gas in the second halves of games again, or will defenses start to fix the glitch? Welcome to Penn State as the hunted now as the Big Ten champ – as opposed to having the bull’s-eye on its back for other things – and can it handle any and all adversity?
Many will assume everything will pick up where it left off, but the team played with fire way too often and there’s a chance the great run through the Big Ten was a bit of an aberration. The expectations will be through the roof now – and rightly so.