Here are my predictions for the 2009 Penn State football season:
Sept. 5 vs. Akron: W 38-10
This one is obviously going to be an easy one for the Nittany Lions, unless Akron pulls off an Appalachian State, which is highly unlikely. Evan Royster should be able to put up some good numbers against a fairly weak defense, and same goes with Daryll Clark on the passing game. Maybe the young WR's can get some experience in these first few non-conference games.
Sept. 12 vs. Syracuse: W 41-13
Just like the Akron game, this one will be an easy matchup for the Nittany Lions. Royster and Clark could both have big games again and put up some good numbers. Syracuse's HB Curtis Binkley ran for 1,164 yards last year, but in a fairly easy conference. And, QB Cameron Dantley only had a completion percentage of 48.2 percent, which isn't so good for being in the Big East. So you can see that they shouldn't pose too much of a problem for a good PSU defense.
Sept. 19 vs. Temple: W 35-14
Temple could give PSU a little more competition than the first two non-conference games, but just a very little difference. Temple HB Kee-arye Griffin rushed for 394 yards, but on 96 carries, so his avg. was about four yards per carry. They pass a lot more than run with Temple QB Adam DiMichele a 58.0 percent pass completion. They shouldn't be any threat what so ever to PSU.
Sept. 26 vs. Iowa: W 28-20
The Iowa Hawkeyes are definitely all about defense for the most part. With Iowas Big Ten rushing yards leader Shonn Greene leaving, Iowa is going to hurt a little on offense, but the Iowa defense is very good and could give Penn State a run for their money. But, with the return of Sean Lee coming off an injury at linebacker for PSU, the PSU defense is greatly improved. Richard Stanzi had a decent year last year with 59.1 percent of his passes completed. In the end, Penn State will get revenge on last years heart-braking loss.
Oct. 3 at Illinois: W 21-20
The Illini have a spread offense with the speed of Juice Williams who is returning for his senior year in 2009. Juice, who was the top rusher for the Illini with 719 yards on 175 attempts also has 3,173 passing yards and 57.5 percent completion percentage. But, like I said earlier, with the return of Sean Lee, running the ball will be a lot more difficult for opponents. Look for this to be a very close game, but the Lions come out on top.
Oct. 10 vs. Eastern Illinois: W 51-14
PSU is going to absolutely stomp all over Eastern Illinois. The stats from Eastern Illinois players really mean nothing because of the fact that they are Division II. This one speaks for itself. Eastern Illinois will score two TD's only because PSU has taken out their starters.
Oct. 17 vs. Minnesota: W 30-14
Minnesota is mostly a passing team with their HB DeLeon Eskridge with only 187 carries and 678 yards. Although their quarterback Adam Weber has a completion percentage of 62.2 percent, which isn't bad at all with 410 attempts. One of the weaker parts of PSU's defense is their secondary which could let Adam Weber pass around a little, but I don't see too much damage done.
Oct. 24 at Michigan: W 27-10
Rich Rodriguez is still adjusting in Michigan after a losing season that was expected after losing so many big name players. Michigan is going to struggle again this year most likely even when they are playing with their fans behind them. Michigan running backs Brandon Minor and Sam McGuffie both got about the same amount of carries each. Minor got a little less than McGuffie and still got 533 yards to McGuffies 486 yards. Steven Threet had a pass completion percentage of 51.0 percent with 200 attempts, while backup QB Nick Sheridan had a completion percentage of 46.0 percent with 137 attempts. PSU should be able to handle Michigan quite well and take the W.
Oct. 31 at Northwestern: W 35-10
Northwestern has two key losses in QB C.J. Bacher and HB Tyrell Sutton. With younger players coming and taking their shoes, I don't think the Northwestern offense will be able to put up many numbers against the defense of PSU, especially on the ground. So look for this to be one of the easier Big Ten games PSU has.
Nov. 7 vs. Ohio State: W 17-14
The loss of Beanie Wells is what sways this in PSUs favor. They still have to deal with Pryor, but he is a lot less threatening. Penn State beat OSU in their house last year without Wells, they can do it again in a whiteout Beaver Stadium. Pryor has about a 60 percent completion rating, but does some damage on the ground which I think will be hampered a bit with Sean Lee in there now. Look for a heart-stopping close game, but PSU comes out on top.
Nov. 14 vs. Indiana: W 38-14
With the loss of Marcus Thigpen, the Hoosiers are looking even worse off than last year. Kellen Lewis is a decent QB with a 57.0 percent completion rating in 193 attempts. With Thigpen gone, expect a lot more passing attempts from Lewis. Although, Lewis doesn't have the right receiving weapons around him to complete many passes.
Nov. 21 at Michigan State: W 24-10
With the loss of HB Javon Ringer and QB Brian Hoyer the Spartans are going to struggle a lot more on offense. Penn State shouldn't have to much trouble at all stopping the Spartans' running game. Penn State looks like the better team overall and the win goes to them.
Overall Record: 12-0
Bold prediction? Maybe, but with a lot of big name losses around the Big Ten, like Beanie Wells and Javon Ringer, Penn State could very well run the table with a lot of key games in Beaver Stadium including against Ohio State.
It may be a little bold, but I think they can do it this time around. Obviously they don't have the schedule strength to go to a National Championship, unless there are some big losses along the way. So with Penn State focusing on every game, and with some key losses of other teams like Florida and Oklahoma, Penn State could very well be looking at a National Championship trip this season.