Can Penn State Win the Big Ten?
Now that the mighty have fallen (Michigan) or struggled (Wisconsin and Ohio State), there seems to be a growing consensus that Penn State is the class of the Big 10.
While the other big guns have had rough starts, the Nittany Lions have been dominant. But do they really have an edge in the race for the Big 10 title?
Let's look at what everyone's calling PSU's three advantages:
1. Penn State's defense is the kind that wins championships.
This statement is extremely true. Let's get it out of the way right now: THIS IS THE BEST DEFENSE IN THE NATION.
Show me another unit that has so many elite players. King and Connor are tops at their respective positions, and Lee, Scirotto, Sargent, and Wallace would all be the best defensive player on any team north of LSU and west of USC.
2. Anthony Morelli is much improved and can carry this team to big things.
This statement has been proven false through two games.
When the going got tough against Notre Dame, Morelli was nowhere to be found—and his wideouts had to save his butt. I'm not saying he won't turn into one of the 25 best QBs in the country by the end of the year, but he's not close yet.
3. Penn State gets Michigan in a down year.
This is extremely false. Penn State winning in the "Big House" has become way more than a talent thing—it's now mental.
The 2005 Michigan team was "down," but they got their two seconds and a win. The Wolverines will give PSU a game, there's no doubt in my mind about that.
So with all that said, will Penn State win the Big Ten? I would say they have a 65 percent chance—but they have to beat Michigan before anyone starts talking about a championship.
Rumblings from Atop Mt. Nittany
* The "White House" was amazing on Saturday. The fact that all those alumni wore their whites was inconceivable to me. The atmosphere was electric, and all the former players in attendance put the icing on the cake.
* I wrote in my preview of the ND game that the playcalling needed to be better than last year's for Penn State to win. While it was a little better, it amazes me that the coaches didn't realize after watching the ND/Georgia Tech game that PSU needed to throw the ball downfield and run Austin Scott outside. I saw way too many dives and quick outs against a poor ND defense. The Lions got lucky that the bad playcalling didn't hurt them.
* Dan Connor was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. He's the second Nittany Lion in as many weeks to win that award.
* This week's prediction? PSU 48, Buffalo 0.
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