Penn State Football: Predicting Each Remaining Game on the Schedule

Tim Tolley@@TimTolley_BRContributor ISeptember 24, 2013

Penn State Football: Predicting Each Remaining Game on the Schedule

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    The Penn State Nittany Lions have navigated their out-of-conference schedule and come away with a record of three wins and one loss. 

    With a four-game sample behind the Nittany Lions and a better feel for each remaining opponent, here's a look at the Big Ten schedule Penn State will face following its first bye week.

At Indiana, October 5

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    Opponent's Record: 2-2

    The Good: The Hoosiers opened up with a 73-point offensive output against Indiana State and possess the 14th-best scoring offense in the country, averaging 44.5 points per game. Their 348.5 passing yards per contest is good enough for 11th in the country.

    The Bad: Along with suffering home losses to Navy and Missouri, Indiana is allowing almost 33 points per game defensively. Their two wins are over Bowling Green and FCS Indiana State, which scored 35 points in the contest.

    Evaluation: Penn State's secondary will be tested, but it appears that this Indiana team is very similar to the recent editions.

    Chance of a Penn State Win: 85 percent


Vs. Michigan, October 12

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    Opponent's Record: 4-0

    The Good: Michigan opened the season clicking on all cylinders in a 59-9 win over Central Michigan. It followed that up with an impressive win over Notre Dame under the lights in the Big House. 

    The Bad: In the Wolverines' last two games, they've been taken to the brink by Akron and UConn, two teams who have struggled thus far in 2013. Since Week 1, the Michigan offense has been far from intimidating. 

    Evaluation: Beaver Stadium will be glowing white when Michigan comes to town for the biggest game of the year in Happy Valley. The result will depend on which Wolverine team shows up, but it looks more promising now that it did in August.

    Chance of a Penn State Win: 51 percent

At Ohio State, October 26

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    Opponent's Record: 4-0

    The Good: The Buckeyes have scored at least 40 points in each game thus far and are averaging 311 rushing yards per contest. They might also have the two best quarterbacks in the conference, and they're on a 16-game winning streak.

    The Bad: They haven't faced a real test yet this year and their young defense has been suspect against the pass.

    Evaluation: This Ohio State team doesn't look like it has the goods to go undefeated again, but it will be favored in each game that it plays.

    Chance of a Penn State Win: 14 percent

Vs. Illinois, November 2

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    Opponent's Record: 2-1

    The Good: Illini quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase seems to have finally figured it out. He is completing over 64 percent of his passes and is leading the Big Ten in passing yards per game. The impressive win over Cincinnati was the result of a complete game by the Illini.

    The Bad: There are several questions on defense, and the home loss to Washington made it look like maybe Illinois just isn't ready to take the next step. Its lack of a running game will be something to watch once conference play begins. 

    Evaluation: Illinois will enter the Penn State game on the back end of a grueling month that sees it face Nebraska, Wisconsin and Michigan State. It could be out of gas, and the Nittany Lion fans will be especially fired up when Tim Beckman comes to town.

    Chance of a Penn State Win: 76 percent

At Minnesota, November 9

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    Opponent's Record: 4-0

    The Good: The Golden Gophers are averaging 282 rushing yards and 41.8 points per game. While they haven't faced any stiff competition, they've eliminated each foe with relative ease. 

    The Bad: Minnesota doesn't have a receiver with 100 total yards this season and it ranks 118th in passing yards per game. It'll need to be more diverse if it wants to maintain this early success.

    Evaluation: While it appears bowl-bound, with no hint of a passing game, it will be a long day for Minnesota against Penn State's front seven. 

    Chance of a Penn State Win: 91 percent

Vs. Purdue, November 16

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    Opponent's Record: 1-3

    The Good: The Boilermakers beat Indiana State and kept it close against Notre Dame. There haven't been many bright spots this year for Purdue.

    The Bad: Purdue ranks near the bottom of the country in points scored (117), points against (94), passing yards (102) and rushing yards (116).

    Evaluation: Anything can happen, but it looks like the Boilermakers will be in over their heads for most of the season.

    Chance of a Penn State Win: 97 percent

Vs. Nebraska, November 23

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    Opponent's Record: 3-1

    The Good: Nebraska has gotten solid quarterback play again and is running the ball as well as usual, averaging 280 yards per game on the ground. QB Taylor Martinez has thrown for nine touchdowns despite sitting out the last game with an injury.

    The Bad: The Cornhusker defense has been invisible and the fans are calling for head coach Bo Pelini's head. Nebraska has a chance to right the ship between now and the end of the season, or it could all come crumbling down around it.

    Evaluation: Nebraska has enough talent on offense to keep it above water until the defense comes around. This could be a big game in the making if Nebraska wants to play for the Big Ten championship.

    Chance of a Penn State Win: 43 percent

At Wisconsin, November 30

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    Opponent's Record: 3-1

    The Good: It appears the Badgers haven't missed a beat in the absence of Bret Bielema. They're boasting the nation's third-best rushing offense and are only allowing 10.5 points per game. Wisconsin is a few bad refs away from being undefeated going into a marquee game at Ohio State this weekend.

    The Bad: The stats could be inflated after wins over Tennessee Tech and UMass. In its only true test of the year, Wisconsin couldn't pull out the win over Arizona State. Also, 198 passing yards per game might not be enough once conference play begins.

    Evaluation: The Badgers may have the best stable of running backs in the country and a defense good enough to keep them in any game. That's a dangerous combination in Madison late in November.

    Chance of a Penn State Win: 40 percent

Final Prognosis

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    Four games into the season, these Nittany Lions are pretty much who we thought they were. They're a little better offensively than most thought they'd be, and there are a few questions on defense that didn't exist before the season, but overall they look like an eight-win team. 

    If Penn State can stay healthy, there is no reason why it can't repeat the success of last year's team. If it slips up, 7-5 is certainly possible, and this team might be good enough to win a game or two that it isn't favored in. 

    Has your opinion on this version of the Nittany Lions changed? Do you think they'll win more now than you expected in August? Less?