Penn State Football: 4 Bold Predictions After Bill O'Brien's Third Straight Win
Don't look now, but the Penn State football team has found itself in the middle of a three-game win streak.
After dispatching Illinois 35-7 on Saturday, PSU is 3-2 and holds a newly found hope for the remainder of the season.
With a homecoming date against Northwestern Wildcats next on the schedule, let's take a look at four bold but plausible predictions for Bill O'Brien's squad.
1. Matt McGloin Leads the Big Ten in Passing Yards
A walk-on who never was given the starting job without strings attached, Matt McGloin is proving why Jay Paterno's two-quarterback system was completely unreasonable.
McGloin led the Big Ten in passing heading into Saturday's matchup against the Illini. He then proceeded to tack on 211 passing yards even while Penn State grounded the game away in the the second half.
Under O'Brien's pro-style offense, there's no reason to think the current state of affairs won't hold. With Denard Robinson and Braxton Miller relying more on their legs than their arms, McGloin's steepest competition comes from Nebraska's Taylor Martinez.
That Martinez already trailed McGloin by 128 yards heading into Saturday, it's easy to see that the Big Ten leader in passing yards will reside in Happy Valley.
2. Allen Robinson Tops the Big 10 in Receiving Yards
The loss of wide receiver Justin Brown and running back Silas Redd was supposed to cripple the Penn State offense. But that was before Allen Robinson burst onto the scene.
Robinson followed up his massive game against Navy (135 receiving yards, three touchdowns) with a five-catch, 82-yard effort against Temple and a three-catch, 35-yard effort in Saturday's 35-7 win over Illinois.
As the favorite target of the Big Ten's leading passer, Nittany Lion fans are looking at their first wide receiver to lead the Big Ten in receiving yards this century.
3. Penn State Wins the Leaders Division
Penn State will win the Leaders Division in 2012.
There. I said it.
Let's take a closer look.
The Lions blew a 14-3 halftime lead against Ohio to drop their season opener. Ohio remains undefeated and could realistically finish 12-0.
Penn State was the superior team at Virginia, but kicked the game away (missing four field goals and an extra point in a 17-16 loss).
Since then, the Lions have dismantled Navy, Temple and Illinois by a combined score of 93-27. The games haven't even been close.
Perhaps one would argue that Navy, Temple and Illinois are weak opponents, but look at what teams remain on PSU's schedule: A homecoming game against Northwestern, plus winnable road dates at Purdue, Nebraska and Iowa. Lackluster Indiana and Wisconsin pay a visit to Beaver Stadium to close out the season.
The biggest test?
A prime-time date with Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes. That game figures to determine the Big Ten Leaders champ. (Ironically, both teams aren't eligible for the Big Ten title game)
The game is in Happy Valley. It's the Rally in the Valley. It's the White-Out Game, and Penn State hates Ohio State.
If the Leaders crown does come down to that game, are you really going to bet against Michael Mauti and Penn State on their home turf?
4. The Recruiting Bubble Is Lifted
USC has done it. Ohio State has done it. And Penn State will do it.
And by it, I mean recruit successfully despite NCAA sanctions.
This 2012 team is only going to inspire more high school prospects to come to Penn State. Who wouldn't want to learn the game from the offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots? Talk about a perfect path to the NFL...
But that's not all.
Penn State is winning with pride. Winning despite the most severe penalties in NCAA history. Winning while writing a new chapter of history. But most of all, they're winning together. As one team.
Fight on, State.