Penn State Football: Will the Nittany Lions Win a Game This Season?
After today's soul-crushing, 17-16 loss to Virginia, Penn State fell to 0-2 for the first time since the 2000 season when they finished 6-6, 4-4 in the Big Ten. That year, the Nittany Lions opened their season by losing to USC, 29-5, and Toledo, 24-6.
At least this year's team has scored more than 11 points in its first two games. However, unlike the 2000 team, this year's club probably won't score 67 in its next game like the 2000 team did against Louisiana Tech.
But, after two lackluster games with an inept offense and a defense that cannot hold a lead, will this Penn State team win at least one game?
Let's go through each of Penn State's remaining 10 games and see if we can find a victory.
Saturday, Sept. 15, vs. Navy
Looking at their remaining 10 games, this may be Penn State's best chance at victory. Navy finished 2011 with a sub-.500 record of 5-7. Not to mention that Navy lost 50-10 to Notre Dame in its opener.
However, while Navy still knows how to do one thing very well: run the football.
That could be the reason the Midshipmen take down Penn State, as the Nittany Lions gave up 175 rushing yards to Ohio in Week 1.
Score: Penn State 27, Navy 21
Saturday, Sept. 22, vs. Temple
With the struggles of Penn State and Pittsburgh, it's shocking to think that Temple is the best FBS team in Pennsylvania.
Sure, the Owls may not have as many talented players as those other two schools, but they're the only team with a win through two games this season.
Temple, like Navy, will have an extra week to prepare for Penn State. This will give Temple's defense an extra week to figure out how to put pressure on the Penn State passing game, which will make the Nittany Lions one-dimensional.
Plus, with the extra week, Temple's offense will have time to find holes in the Penn State defense that has failed to hold leads in back-to-back losses.
Score: Temple 31, Penn State 13
Saturday, Sept. 29, at Illinois
With no answers for a passing game and a running game that is struggling, Penn State could limp into its Big Ten schedule with an 1-3 record.
However, Illinois could be having the same problems. Last year, Penn State and Illinois struggled to find any offense, as the Nittany Lions won 10-7.
This year, the combined points could be the same, but the end result different, with Illinois coming out on top.
I could see Penn State having a 7-3 lead heading into the forth quarter only to give up a touchdown late.
Score: Illinois 10, Penn State 7
Saturday, Oct. 6, vs. Northwestern
As the calendar turns into October, the Penn State season moves into the thick of the Big Ten and some of its toughest competition.
Northwestern will not be in the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis, but the Wildcats will finish the year eligible for a bowl game. This Northwestern team has a dangerous offense that will put up a big score on the Nittany Lions.
Penn State will be forced to play catch-up, which is a game they can't win against any Big Ten team.
Score: Northwestern 38, Penn State 24
Saturday, Oct. 20, at Iowa
There is only one offense that is more inept than the Nittany Lions' and that is the Hawkeyes'.
Iowa barely pulled out a win in its first game against Northern Illinois, relying on running back Damon Bullock, who rushed 30 times for 150 yards and one score. On top of the rushing game, Iowa only produced four field goals.
This game will be full of defense, like Penn State's game against Illinois, but with the Nittany Lions doing enough to hold on to a victory.
Score: Penn State 12, Iowa 6
Saturday, Oct. 27, vs. Ohio State
After earning its second win, Penn State will come back down to earth when the Buckeyes come to Happy Valley.
This Ohio State team just has too much talent on both sides of the ball for Penn State. Plus, Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller will want to atone for his first game against Penn State when he only completed seven passes on 17 attempts for 83 yards.
You can expect Miller to have more than 300 total yards and four touchdowns as Ohio State rolls.
Score: Ohio State 45, Penn State 10
Saturday, Nov. 3, at Purdue
Purdue has a solid team that by November will be clicking. However, while Purdue will be getting solid contributions from its offense and defense, Penn State will be struggling to find ways to score points, which will put pressure on the defense to hold leads.
I could see Penn State heading into halftime with a 17-7 lead, only to find a way to allow Purdue to score 21 unanswered points in the second half.
Because of an offense that has no skill players who can break a game open, Penn State will suffer another defeat.
Score: Purdue 28, Penn State 17
Saturday, Nov. 10, at Nebraska
Penn State heads to Nebraska to face a team that may be contending for the Legends Division title and a spot in the Big Ten championship game. That means that the Cornhuskers will not be holding anything back.
I'd expect quarterback Taylor Martinez and running back Rex Burkhead to have huge games, with two touchdowns apiece, in a blowout victory for Nebraska.
On top of that, each player could finish with more 150 rushing yards, while Martinez finishes with more than 200 passing yards.
Score: Nebraska 49, Penn State 13
Saturday, Nov. 17, vs. Indiana
Indiana finished last year with only one win and scored 10 or fewer points three times.
However, that was last year. This year's team has already won a game —defeating Indiana State 24-17— and looks to be well on its way to defeating Massachusetts to go 2-0.
The Hoosiers are an improved team, and this game should be another in which Penn State can't hold a lead in the second half.
I don't know if the reason for this loss will be on the offense, defense, special teams or a combination of all three, but Penn State will find a way to lose to the Hoosiers.
Score: Indiana 21, Penn State 20
Saturday, Nov. 24, vs. Wisconsin
The final game of the Penn State season mercifully arrives, and Senior Day for those athletes who stuck around after the NCAA sanctions will not turn out the way they would have hoped.
Yes, Penn State will keep this game close, but the Nittany Lions' defense won't be able to contain Wisconsin running back Montee Ball.
Ball will carry the Badgers past the Nittany Lions with a 35-carry, 242-yard and three-touchdown performance.
Score: Wisconsin 31, Penn State 20
Final Record: 2-10
A season that started with promise, as Penn State held leads in the second half of both of its first two games, will end in disappointment.
Because of a defense that can't protect a lead and an offense that hasn't shown ability to help the defense out, that trend of losing late in games will continue.
That being said, Penn State ends 2012 with a 2-10 record.
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