At 7-1 and midway through the 2009 season, Penn State has reason to be happy with its performance along the way.
Although much remains between now and bowl season, the Nittany Lions should be satisfied thus far. Most of the issues arising in the offseason have been put to rest, mainly the questions of the offensive line, defensive secondary, and young wideouts.
Through eight games, none of those issues seemed to have given the coaching staff too much trouble. In fact, it’s not a young team but a relatively easy schedule that has been the team’s Achilles heel all year long.
Critics and poll voters alike have attributed Penn State’s 7-1 record to an easy out-of-conference schedule that included Akron, Syracuse, Temple, and Eastern Illinois.
True, in the only true test they’ve faced this year (which Penn State led part-way into the fourth quarter), the Lions fell short against a very talented Iowa Hawkeye team, which is currently ranked No. 6 in the BCS poll.
However, despite the close game and tough opponent, poll voters refuse to give the Lions too much credit, keeping them at No. 13 in the AP.
For comparison, USC is 5-1 and ranked much higher than Penn State, at No. 6 in the AP poll and No. 5 in the BCS, even after losing to an unranked 3-4 Washington team.
Explain that to me.
Rankings aside, the Nittany Lions are destined for another January bowl game, which would be its fourth in just five years.
Now to break down what’s brought us to this point in the season, and to associate a letter grade to the offense, defense, special teams, coaching, and overall performance.