Penn State Football: An Early Look into the 2011 Season
With National Signing Day in the books, attention can now shift to spring training and eventually the start of the 2011 season. Penn State showed some promise last season as the team looked unified under quarterback Matt McGloin. This slideshow will break down the Nittany Lions' 2011 schedule. I will look at the matchups and tell you my projected outcomes.
Week 1: Indiana State
Division I-FCS Indiana State finished last season at 6-5. That is all you need to know because Penn State will run all over the Sycamores. Penn State wins by 20 points.
Week 2: Alabama
Alabama finished its season with a huge 49-7 win over Michigan State. While the Tide will have to replace some key players, they should still be loaded on both sides of the ball. Penn State has the advantage of hosting the Tide this year, and hopefully there will not be a quarterback controversy this time around.
Penn State should play better than last year, but I think Alabama gets the win, 27-13.
Week 3: @ Temple
The old Temple Owls return to face Penn State yet again. Last year Temple gave Penn State a run for its money, but Penn State edged them out 22-13. This year Temple will have a new head coach, and I think that may make the game a little less competitive.
Penn State wins 31-10.
Week 4: Eastern Michigan
Another MAC team on the schedule. You probably didn't even know that Eastern Michigan was an FBS program. The Eagles went 2-10 last year—not exactly a juggernaut—but they are trying to build a team.
Penn State will win 35-10. This puts Penn State at 3-1 as Big Ten play starts.
Week 5: @ Indiana
Indiana finished 2010 with a 5-7 record. The Hoosiers played decent football and lost three of their games by less than a touchdown. The Hoosiers always play better when they are at home. Fortunately for them, they are at home in their matchup against Penn State this year.
Penn State defeated Indiana last year, 41-24. I expect a similar result with Penn State winning 38-17.
Week 6: Iowa
Here are the hated Iowa Hawkeyes. Iowa has had Penn State's number lately. Last season, Iowa won 24-3. I expect a much closer game this season.
Penn State seems to beat itself when it plays Iowa. If Penn State can keep things together and play good football, then I think it can win. This is the first matchup that really could go either way. I think that under the leadership of McGloin, the Nittany Lions pull out a close win.
Penn State wins 23-21.
Week 7: Purdue
The Purdue Boilermakers struggled to do much of anything last year, finishing 4-8. This game is at Happy Valley, and Penn State should pull out an easy victory
Penn State wins 35-13. This puts Penn State at 6-1, putting the Nittany Lions in the top 20.
Week 8: @ Northwestern
Northwestern had a good season last year, finishing 7-6. Northwestern had Penn State on the ropes last year as the Wildcats were up 21-0 on the Nittany Lions. Penn State roared back to win 35-21.
This year Penn State will win again, and I think it will be a comeback victory again.
Penn State will be down 10-0, before coming back to win 28-10. Penn State now stands at 7-1.
Week 9: Illinois
The Illinois Fighting Illini will be an interesting story this year. They showed some promise last year, finishing 7-6, losing three of their games by a combined 10 points.
Penn State lost last year to the Illini, but I can not see that happening again.
Penn State will win in a "closer than the experts think" game, 27-20.
Penn State is 8-1 as it heads into the bye week. The remaining opponents for the Lions are Nebraska, Ohio State and Wisconsin.
Week 11: Nebraska
This will be Nebraska's first year in the Big Ten. Last year the Cornhuskers went 10-4, losing three of their last four. This year will be different for the Cornhuskers, and I believe that this game will be a very close one. This game is at Happy Valley, so Penn State gets the edge on the Cornhuskers.
Penn State wins in overtime, 17-14, thanks to the Senior Day home crowd.
With two games left, Penn State is 9-1. Can they finish the stretch on a high note?
Week 12: @ Ohio State
The big rivalry game, Penn State vs. Ohio State. This matchup is in Columbus, which gives the Buckeyes the edge. Ohio State also has Terrelle Pryor finishing his career at the university.
I think Penn State will be walking into a mad house in Columbus. Ohio State rolls 35-14.
Week 13: @ Wisconsin
The Badgers had a spectacular season last year, finishing 11-2. Wisconsin will return as a power and may win the newly formed Big Ten. I think Penn State plays with heart and emotion, but emotion only goes so far.
Wisconsin will win a good game, 24-17.
Penn State finishes the regular season at 9-3 and will not make the Big Ten Championship game.
The Last Game
Penn State will still get to a January day bowl game. I think the Capital One Bowl may be its landing spot.
For an early prediction, let's say Penn State draws...LSU.
If that is the case, then Penn State will have a fight on its hands. Penn State usually plays well in bowl games, and the last time these two met, the Nittany Lions pulled out the victory, 19-17 in the 2010 Capital One Bowl.
I think Penn State will beat LSU, 26-21, and finish with a 10-3 record.
Penn State will come out on fire this seasonm as it should win eight of its first nine games. The real factor of the year comes in the final three weeks. If Penn State can manage to win all three games, then a Big Ten title and a National Championship might not be out of the question.
However, I see Penn State going 10-3, winning the Capital One Bowl.
Thanks for reading, leave your comments below.