Are the 4-0 Nittany Lions for Real?

Eric QuackenbushSenior Analyst ISeptember 21, 2008

Watch out for Penn State. At 4-0 already this season, this team looks to be rolling on all cylinders, and everyone knows that it's almost impossible to stop the proverbial "runaway train" that is the Nittany Lions.

At this point in the season I feel that Penn State is a team that will be a lock for a bowl game, maybe even the BCS championship game.  The only obstacle right now is that they have not played a meaningful game against an opponent who will test their strengths and expose any weaknesses. As of now they seemingly have no weaknesses.

There is no doubt in my mind that the Nittany Lions will compete in the Big Ten's championship game. I don't think this team has peaked yet. There is too much veteran experience on this team for their record to be considered simply lucky. And I'm not one to play the luck card. Games are won by mental and physical strength with a touch of finesse, not luck.

In order for this team to win the Big Ten and move on to a bowl game (quite possibly the BCS championship game), they will rely on the passing game.  Penn State will need to mix it up with a good running game where speedy back Stephfon Green can eat up the yardage when he is given any holes to blast through.

The Nittany Lions have a very accurate quarterback in Daryll Clark, but they also have three senior wide receivers to complement his passing skills in Jordan Norwood, Deon Butler, and Derrick Williams.

The Penn State defense looks to make a name for itself, having a total of seven interceptions for 88 yards. In four games that averages out to 1.75 interceptions for 22 yards per game!

I must also count head coach Joe Paterno (who watched the second half of yesterday's victory from the press box due to soreness in his leg) as a huge and leading factor in this team's success. He has played an integral part in getting Penn State's football program to where it is today, and I hold the man in utmost respect.

It's impossible not to give credit to the man affectionately referred to as JoePa, who is 81 years old and has been a part of Penn State's football program for almost 60 years.  Paterno passed Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden to take sole ownership of first place with 376 career major college coaching victories, when FSU lost to Wake Forest last night.

I really don't see a whole lot of areas that would need major improvements. I do see a small area, however, and that lies in what could account for costly turnovers against better teams. Otherwise I am very happy with the way this Penn State team is looking. They carry themselves with a lot of confidence, and there is pride in this team.

As Joe Paterno said after yesterday's victory, "I got a bunch of guys out there, fighting all kinds of adversity, different lineups, hanging in there, and you're worried about my leg."