Penn State Football: Bold Predictions for Remainder of Nittany Lions' Season
Well, this isn't quite how Penn State wanted to start the 2012 season.
After a brutal, program-changing offseason, the Nittany Lions were hoping to forget—or least overshadow—the past six months with their play on the field.
So much for that.
MAC powerhouse Ohio came in to University Park in Week 1 and spoiled Bill O'Brien's debut with a convincing 24-14 victory. Penn State then had to travel to Virginia and proceeded to lose a game it absolutely should have won.
The only place to go from here is forward. Let's take a look at what to expect from the troubled program for the rest of 2012.
How many wins will Penn State win in 2012?
Penn State hosts Navy and Temple over the next two weeks. They should easily coast to a 2-2 record heading into Big 10.
Unfortunately for the Nittany Lions, things could get ugly in conference play. The Big 10, in general, seems to have taken a step back this year and Penn State will avoid both Michigan and Michigan State, but Penn State's offense is stagnant at best.
Because of that, and because of an unreliable (understatement of the year?) kicking game, upsets will be hard to come by, regardless of how solid the defense has looked.
That leaves Indiana at home—all the way in November—as the only remaining win.
Illinois, Iowa and Purdue are potential wins, but inconveniently enough, all of those games come on the road.
A three-win season would be Penn State's worst since 2003 (They won 11 and the Orange Bowl just two years later. Yay!), or as far as the record books are concerned, a three-win increase over last year.
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Penn State has made Ohio and Virginia look like LSU and Alabama.
Fifteen points per game, 0.191 points per play, 4.3 yards per play, 57.14 scoring percentage in the red zone, 3.3 yards per rush, 52.75 completion percentage and 5.2 yards per pass.
What do all of those stats have in common? They put Penn State 80th or worse in each category, which is downright anemic.
Lots of the problems start with the offensive line, but the running backs have looked painfully mediocre. Matt McGloin, despite being the clear maestro of this offense, doesn't provide a ton of excitement and if the first two weeks are any indication, he will have trouble staying healthy.
At some point, it will be time to see what the youngsters can offer during what will likely turn into a lost season.
It's not like the Nittany Lions have a bunch of 5-stars waiting on the bench, but don't be surprised when you see plenty of Steven Bench under center and Akeel Lynch in the backfield this year.
They are the future.
2 Conference All-Americans at the Same Position
If there's a reason to be excited about this Penn State squad, it's the defense. And the leaders of that defense reside right in the middle of the field.
Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges.
The senior duo was tremendous against Virginia. Mauti, the clear heart of the team, had a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, nine tackles, a pass deflection and countless other plays that didn't put him in the statsheet.
Hodges, meanwhile, covered every square inch of the field en route to a fumble recovery and eight tackles.
There may be other more-talented linebackers in the conference, but no one has motors like these these two. The extra time they'll get to spend on the field will also help them both secure First-Team Big-10 selections.
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