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Can the Nittany Lions claim the Big Ten title? – Times News Online

11-11 … That’s Penn State’s football record over the past two seasons.

What’s even more frustrating for Nittany Lions fans is that the .500 mark over the past two seasons follows a four-year streak that saw Penn State go 42-11, win a Big Ten title (2016) and qualify. for three New Year’s bowls.

So, needless to say, it’s been a frustrating two years at Happy Valley, but the start of a new season always brings hope and high expectations.

I’m here to break down the Nittany Lions schedule and give you my win/loss prediction for each game.

The 2022 season hinges on quarterback Sean Clifford remaining healthy and Penn State’s improving running game. Both of those things will depend on the offensive line adapting a more physical, meaner mentality up front. With a talented returning defense, if the offense can play to its potential, this could be a significant rebound year for the Nittany Lions.

Week 1

September 1 – at Purdue

Once again, Penn State will start the season on the road with a tough Big Ten opponent as they take on Purdue in a special Thursday night game. The Boilermakers lost two crucial playmakers a season ago, wide receiver David Bell and defensive end George Karlaftis. Talented quarterback Aidan O’Connell returns and will once again post big numbers this season on coach Jeff Brohm’s offense. The strength of the Nittany Lions defense, however, will be secondary and I don’t think O’Connell has such a talented arsenal at his disposal this season.

Prediction: Penn State 31, Purdue 17.

Week 2

September 10 – vs. Ohio

The Bobcats were just 3-9 a season ago. Ohio returns a strong offensive line and is effective in managing the football. But the Bobcats’ passing game and passing rush are areas of concern this season.

Prediction: Penn State 42, Ohio 10.

Week 3

September 17 – at Auburn

This game comes down to whether the Nittany Lions can hold off Auburn running back Tank Bigsby. If Penn State lets the Tigers control the game with the run, it could leave Jordan-Hare Stadium with a loss. But Auburn, which was just 6-7 last season, has uncertainty at quarterback, wide receiver and holes in defense. I think Penn State is simply the best team in all phases except running play.

Prediction: Penn State 24, Auburn 14.

Week 4

September 24 – vs. Central Michigan

Head coach Jim McElwain has done a good job with the Chippewas, going 20-13 since taking charge three seasons ago. However, Central Michigan lost a lot of talent on the offensive line and was absolutely poached on defense from the transfer gate, losing six starters. It will be difficult for the Chippewas to stop Penn State’s offense and protect their quarterback.

Prediction: Penn State 38, Central Michigan 7.

Week 5

Oct. 1 — vs. Northwestern

The Wildcats had a tough time as they finished last in the Big Ten last season. They should be improved this season, but they lack explosiveness in attack. Northwestern has a returning talented backfield and a strong offensive line as well, but holes in defense and their inability to find the big play on offense make this a good match for Penn State.

Prediction: Penn State 33, Northwestern 16.

Week 6

October 15 – in Michigan

This is a game where Penn State could run into trouble. Michigan’s offense is expected to be one of its most explosive offenses in recent years, with returning quarterbacks, running backs and a host of talented pass catchers. The Wolverines defense, however, is going to be thin up front and they have plenty of players to replace in the secondary. This game will come down to pressure from the Penn State defense from both the run and the pass, and the Nittany Lions haven’t been great in Ann Arbor lately.

Prediction: Michigan, 27, Penn State 24.

Week 7

October 22 – vs. Minnesota

In my opinion, this is the most important game on Penn State’s schedule this season. This game could either help the Nittany Lions stay in the Big Ten race or send them into another disappointing season. It’s white game and the Golden Gophers aren’t the type of team used to playing in hostile environments. Additionally, Penn State owes the Gophers their upset victory over the Nittany Lions in Minneapolis a few years ago. Again, I think Penn State is the better team here and I don’t think Minnesota has the offensive weapons or the defensive prowess to pull this one off.

Prediction: Penn State 35, Minnesota 21.

Week 8

Oct. 29 – vs. Ohio State

So this is where the Nittany Lions – like in 2016 – could really shake things up in the Big Ten. It looks like it will be a noon kickoff and while it won’t be the ‘white’ that the Ohio State game usually is, the crowd will still be electric, especially if the Nittany Lions are able to overcome. the Gophers. The only problem is that the Buckeyes are stacked. Quarterback CJ Stroud, wide Jaxon Smith-Njigba and running back TreVeyon Henderson are all returning and are likely each the best at their respective Big Ten position. Defense was the problem last season for OSU and it’s what kept them out of the college football playoffs, but this unit should improve with the hiring of new defensive coordinator Jim Knowles from the State of Oklahoma. I think Penn State’s offense will be able to move the ball against the Buckeyes, but Ohio State’s offense is just too good.

Prediction: Ohio State 38, Penn State 28.

Week 9

November 5 – in Indiana

Indiana is coming off a 2-10 season and it was 0-9 in Big Ten play. The Hoosiers basically have new players in every position and have a lot of work to do to return to their 2020 season wins. A big problem for Indiana is that they still have a lot of question marks on the offensive line. and defensive.

Prediction: Penn State 44, Indiana 10.

Week 10

November 12 – against Maryland

Maryland has the potential to have one of the most electric offenses in the Big Ten this season with Taulia Tagovailoa back at quarterback and a very talented wide receiver room. The Terps offense will certainly challenge the Penn State defense, but again the Nittany Lions secondary, which I believe is one of the best in the Big Ten, will make it difficult. Defensively, Maryland still seems to be in trouble.

Prediction: Penn State 34, Maryland 27.

Week 11

November 19 – at Rutgers

Rutgers picked up five wins a season ago and are improving under head coach Greg Schiano, who is in his second stint with the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers is excited about their new young quarterback, but all signs point to him struggling up front on the offensive line. The Scarlet Knights defensive line should possess a decent pass rush this season, but at the back they are very inexperienced at both linebacker and secondary. I think Rutgers will be a scrappy team all year, but just won’t have enough firepower to beat the big dogs.

Prediction: Penn State 31, Rutgers 13.

Week 12

Nov. 26 – vs. Michigan State

Quarterback Payton Thorne returns, as does a solid receiving core for Michigan State, but explosive running back Kenneth Walker III is gone and the Spartans have no one with his talent on this year’s roster. Couple that with a defense that looked like one of the worst pass-againsts in the country a year ago and I see the Spartans taking a step back this season.

Prediction: Penn State 27, Michigan State 17.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I have the Nittany Lions finishing at 10-2. The consensus over/under for wins this season for Penn State is 8.5. I think the Nittany Lions are a lock to win nine games in 2022 with the talent they have back. I’m going to take the James Franklin approach and let the offensive line prove itself, but if this unit plays better this season, this offense could be special with Clifford and receivers Parker Washington, KeAndre Lambert-Smith and proven playmaker Mitchell Tinsley, who transferred from western Kentucky. Add to that top rookies Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen along with veteran Keyvonne Lee and one of the best tight end rooms in the country and you could see an immediate change in the way Penn State plays offense this season. . As I noted, the defense is going to be good. This season hinges on the success of the attack. But bring that to 8.5 wins in the bank, you heard it here first!