2009 Penn State Football: Breaking Down the Schedule

Derek ReedCorrespondent IMarch 9, 2009

The Penn State Nittany Lions come back as defending Big Ten champions and are fresh off a Rose Bowl appearance. There are many questions as to how far this team will go with the departure of their senior receivers and key offensive line positions.

With the right recruits and strength of their defense there is a legitimate chance to repeat as conference champs and return to a BCS bowl game.

*Will signify a conference opponent.

Akron - Week One:

Ever since Appalachian State pulled off the miracle in Michigan teams and fans alike have been wary of who they schedule for the opening game. Despite a perennial MAC power like the University of Akron Zips, playing in Beaver Stadium is a safe gamble. Prediction: Win

Syracuse - Week Two:

A long standing rival of Penn State shouldn't put up much of a struggle. Positive is they play in the Big East. Prediction: Win

Temple - Week Three:

In another intere... Who are we kidding. Prediction: Win

Iowa* - Week Four:

The first big test of the year. Last season the Hawkeyes knocked off an undefeated Nittany Lions team ranked No. 2 in the coaches poll. Penn State will definitely be looking for some payback after falling short of a shot at the national championship. the departure of Senior RB Shonn Greene will hurt their running attack against a solid defensive line.

The Hawkeyes will put little pressure on quarterback Daryll Clark and with Evan Royster to lighten the load Penn State should take advantage of their fourth straight home game. Prediction: Win

@ Illinois* - Week Five:

Another rebuilding year for the Illini, this time they face Penn State at home. While they feature talent on offense the Illinois defense can be taken advantage of, even with weapons missing. Prediction: Win

Eastern Illinois - Week Six:

A hapless I-AA team traveling to Happy Valley. Prediction: Win

Minnesota* - Week Seven:

Don't be surprised if the Golden Gophers show talent in the run game. One thing you can be sure of is that this will not be a close score, this series usually does not come down to that. Come October 17, Penn State will be ringing the Governor's Victory Bell trophy in Beaver Stadium. Prediction: Win

@ Michigan* - Week Eight:

Up until last season seeing Michigan on the schedule would make Nittany Nation cringe. Since the decline of the Wolverines and the dominating performance over "that team up north" the feelings have subsided.

Experts believe that it will take Rich Rodriguez at least another year to perfect the spread offense in Ann Arbor. In the mean time the Big Ten (and many others) are taking their shots at the Maize and Blue.

Even if it the score comes down to a field goal the Penn State offense will have enough talent to win, especially behind their defense provided it remains intact. Prediction: Win

@ Northwestern* - Week Nine:

The defensive secondary will be the key to this game. The Wildcats quarterback is a stat stuffer, he'll throw as many touchdowns as he does interceptions. Capitalizing on turnovers is a must. The Penn State offense should not have trouble picking up big plays down field with a few decent wide receiver recruits. Prediction: Win

Ohio State* - Week 10:

The Buckeyes are coming, the Buckeyes are coming! In the past four years the Big Ten has been a slug fest between the two schools vying for the title. Just like the Lions, Ohio State is losing a lot of talented players from offense and defense.

The one weapon that their success will hinge upon is QB Terrell Pryor. His quick athleticism will confuse the Penn State defense but not having Chris "Beanie" Wells is an Achilles heal for them. Ohio State is still the old guard of the Big Ten and until something shows otherwise they will remain on top. Prediction: Loss

Indiana* - Week 11:

The Hoosiers are the perennial basement team of the conference. Look for Penn State to come out swinging for a high poll ranking. Prediction: Win

@ Michigan State* - Week 12:

Careful, they bite! Nothing in particular shows that the Spartans will win the season finale, just the way they play with Penn State can put up a red flag. The most effective way to take Penn State out of their rhythm is neutralizing the run game. The offense should have a big day though. Prediction: Win

There you have it, an 11-1 record (7-1 in the Big Ten) and enough to win the conference title or share it with Ohio State. While the Nittany Lions can beat the Buckeyes, the prediction of loss is by close margins.

Until the season unfolds the pick will be a precaution until we see how the two teams seasons unfold. Regardless, Penn State will be going to a BCS bowl game.


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