2015-2016 Football Previews (Big Ten)- Nittany Lions
Penn State was definitely hit hard by the probation and penalties put on them by the NCAA from the Sandusky scandal, but I think the Nittany Lions have stayed on their feet better than most believed they would.
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Big Ten 2015-2016 College Football Preview – Penn State Nittany Lions
Head Coach: James Franklin
2014 Record: 7-6
Odds to Win College Football Championship (from BetOnline): +10,000
Odds to win Big Ten (from BetOnline): +2,500
Season Win Total (from 5Dimes): 8
James Franklin did a really nice job in his first year with the team last season. Franklin proved in his time at Vanderbilt that he could maximize his talent, and I think over time he’ll prove to be a great hire for the Nittany Lions.
Penn State now has 83 scholarship players, so the depth problems they have had in the past few years shouldn’t be there this season. Penn State returns 15 starters (8 offense and 7 defense) and the Nittany Lions expectations are definitely moving higher.
Do they have the team to be a surprise contender, or are they a year or two away?
Christian Hackenberg has taken a lot of heat during his time at Penn State, but I’m convinced he’s still a good quarterback. Just about every program wanted him coming out of high school, and the skillset is still there. What has the problem been so far for Hackenberg? The offensive line in front of him has been a catastrophe, and that hasn’t allowed Hackenberg to show off his skills. With an improved line this year, look for Hackenberg to be much better.
Penn State has a tremendous group of wide receivers. The Nittany Lions have a nice combination of possessions receivers as well as downfield threats. I expect the line and quarterback play to be better this year, and that means guys like DaeSean Hamilton and Geno Lewis will shine. Chris Godwin is a very good sophomore who could have a breakout season also.
The entire defense could be seen as a strength, but I think the strongest unit is the Penn State secondary. Six of their top eight guys return from a unit that was very good last year. Remember, Ohio State had a lot of trouble moving the ball (especially through the air) on Penn State last year.
The Nittany Lions secondary is elite.
The running game is a weakness for Penn State. Penn State averaged 2.9 yards per carry last year which is just atrocious. They should be better this year, but it is still a weak spot. Akeel Lynch shows signs of being a good back, but the consistency hasn’t been there yet.
The offensive line should be better, but it is still one of the weaker parts of this team. Since they have been so bad the last two years, this is a unit that will have to prove it before I can rate them highly at all. Opponents sacked Hackenberg a stunning 44 times last year! If they don’t improve in a big way, Penn State will struggle.
Penn State Nittany Lions 2015-2016 Prediction: 10-3
I’m calling for a big improvement this year from Penn State. Their schedule is one of the easiest in the Big Ten. While I don’t see them winning at Michigan State or Ohio State, the Nittany Lions have a lot of very winnable games at home this year. I really like the Nittany Lions season win total over.
They are a notch below Ohio State and Michigan State, but Penn State is quickly improving.
Penn State Nittany Lions 2015 College Football Schedule
|9/19/15||8:00 PM ET||RUTG|
|10/10/15||12:00 PM ET||IND|
|10/17/15||8:00 PM ET||@OSU|
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