Today I decided to take a break from the positions previews and jump right into the schedule. We all know by now that Penn State's schedule this year is unbelievably easy, perhaps easier than that. The schedule includes 8 home games, 4 road games, and no bye weeks.
Even though the schedule favors PSU, there are some teams that could cause the Lions some trouble in the fall.
This game will be similar to the Illinois game last year. Up to this point Penn State will have not been tested and who else but Iowa to be the first true test. The Lions will be hungry and looking for revenge against the Hawkeyes of Iowa. Every Penn State fan remembers what happened last year when Iowa booted Penn State out of national title contention.
This year Penn State gets Iowa at home in a "White Out". LBs Sean Lee and Navarro Bowman will put pressure on Iowa QB Ricky Stanzi to make life easy for the secondary. Also, the recent news of RB Jewel Hampton's knee injury could affect the outcome of this game, if it is serious. Regardless, I think Penn State pulls it out.
This game will be a toughy. Illinois had a rough 2008 campaign going 5-7 overall. I think that they will be an improved team. QB Juice Williams could possibly have a field day against the Penn State secondary by throwing to one of the nation's top receivers in Arrelious Benn. Last year Benn ran wild in State College having 110 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns.
Fortunately for the Lions, Illinois' doesn't have a stellar defense. The combination of RBs Evan Royster and Stephon Green will carry the Nittany Lions to victory. Also, if the defense can stop the option (unlike last year), Daryll Clark and the Penn state will have more opportunities to put more points on the board.
Last year Penn State finally ended the losing streak to Michigan. During the first half of that game, Michigan had the lead and was looking to make a huge upset. The Nittany Lions stepped on the gas and pulled away in the second half. While Michigan had that lead, RB Brandon Minor was running over the PSU defense with ease and proved to be their only bright spot that season.
Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez will have an improved team and will look for another upset. Penn State better be prepared for this game. This has "bear trap" written all over it. Brandon Minor will be better and if Fr. QB Tate Forcier plays well, it could be a close game. But, I don't see it happening. The Nittany Lions prevail in a big way.
11/07 Ohio State
Mark this date on your calenders because this game will be a good one. I think that these two teams will be on a collision course toward this date. Even though the Big Ten is weak, these two teams have had great battles since 2005. Terrelle Pryor vs Darryl Clark will most likely be the headline again going into this game. Last year was a great defensive battle between the two teams, with the Nittany Lions winning late.
Once again both of these teams are similar and a lot is at stake. Both teams have lost great receivers and defensive players. This will be T.P.'s first game at Beaver Stadium and the crowd is going to be loud and rauckus. Like last year, I can't choose a winner because both teams are evenly matched.
11/21 @Michigan State
Last year Penn State destroyed Sparty in a cold November night to end the season. This season the Nittany Lions won't have to deal with QB Brian Hoyer and RB Javon Ringer. Their defense should be improved with many of their starters returning, but Penn State should win this one on the road. But, you never know. We know what happened last year during the last road game in 2008 and in 2007. Both were games that they had leads going into the 4th quarter. This win could send the Lions to the national championship.
I'm boldly predicting Penn State to go undefeated ONLY if they can beat Iowa and Illinois. Those are great early season tests for Penn State. We shouldn't forget about Northwestern and Minnesota, they have improved greatly in 2008 and seem to be on the upswing. The Big Ten will be tough, will the Nittany Lions be tougher?