Penn State Football: Predicting Every Game of the 2012 Season

Nate Scaccia@@TheNateScacciaAnalyst IIIAugust 25, 2012

Penn State Football: Predicting Every Game of the 2012 Season

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    The countdown is on. In one week, Penn State will begin the toughest season it has ever encountered. By now, everyone has heard about the sanctions handed down by the NCAA. These sanctions would make it difficult for any head coach to build a program.

    Add in that Penn State has a new head coach for the first time in 46 years, and you have a reasonable excuse to doubt the program and its future.

    I am not one of those doubters. If you have been following Bill O'Brien and the Penn State football team like I have, you know  there is hope for a new Penn State.

    This season will not be a total failure as many in the media and across the nation seem to think.

    Here's my game-by-game predictions for Penn State in 2012.

Week 1: Ohio Bobcats

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    Date: Saturday, September 1st

    Time: 12 p.m.

    Location: University Park, Pa.

    Television Broadcast: ESPN

    Penn State's first game is not an easy by any stretch of the imagination. Last year, the Bobcats won 10 games for the first time since 1968. The Bobcats also claimed the program's first bowl victory, defeating Utah State 24-23 in the Famous Idaho Potatoes Bowl.

    Ohio, which is picked to win the MAC, returns its star quarterback, junior Tyler Tettleton, who threw for more than 3,000 yards. Tettleton also scored 38 touchdowns last season, 28 passing and 10 rushing.

    Since this is the opener, the new Penn State team will be learning its strengths and weaknesses.  O'Brien will also get his first real taste of being a head coach on the big stage.

    With that being said, the Nittany Lions will use the packed crowd of more than 100,000 fans, plus raw emotion to pass this test. These Penn State players are out to prove they are still Penn State, and they will do just that.

    Penn State, 31-13.

    Record: 1-0.

Week 2: Virginia Cavaliers

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    Date: Saturday, September 9th

    Time: 12 p.m.

    Location: Charlottesville, Va.

    Television: ABC

    Yet another game that many may think is not that challenging. However, Virginia is a talented team that went 8-4 in the regular season last year and ended a four-year post-season drought by appearing in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

    Virginia's main problem this season will be replacing more than half of its starters on offense and defense.

    Luckily for Virginia, senior running back and team captain Perry Jones will make that recovery a little easier. Jones is a dual-threat running back. Last year, he rushed for 915 yards and racked up 506 receiving yards. He also scored five rushing and three receiving touchdowns.

    This is where Virginia's luck runs out, Penn State is and has always been great at stopping running backs. Penn State isn't called "Linebacker U" for nothing. The Penn State defense will shut down Virginia and the Nittany Lions will win.

    Penn State, 24-7

    Record: 2-0.

Week 3: Navy Midshipmen

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    Date: Saturday, September 15th

    Time: 3:30 p.m.

    Location: University Park, Pa.

    Television: ABC/ESPN 2

    Special Notes: PSU Military Appreciation Day

    Navy's unique triple-option offense creates problems for most opponents because of its uniqueness.

    Traditionally, Navy is a very competitive football team. Last year, however, the Midshipmen finished 5-7. . In Navy's defense, five of their seven losses were by a touchdown or less, including a 24-21 loss to then-No.10 South Carolina.

    All that aside, Penn State should handle Navy thanks to its defense.

    Penn State, 28-10.

    Record: 3-0.

Week 4: Temple Owls

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    Date: Saturday, September 22nd

    Time: TBA

    Location: University Park, Pa.

    Television: TBA

    Last season, Temple gave Penn State a scare, but the Nittany Lions were able to pull off the 14-10 victory.

    Watching that game, I remember thinking, "Wow, Temple is a pretty good team." The Owls would go on to finish the regular season 8-4. Temple's program has come a long way, and this season it moves to the Big East.

    I also remember that the Penn State offense played terribly in that game. That a MAC school could hold Penn State to only 14 points was unbelievable. Well, Temple will not have such luck this year.

    Penn State is now aware that Temple will be a formidable opponent. The new and improved O'Brien offense will enable the Nittany Lions to score more against against Temple.

    Penn State, 35-10

    Record: 4-0

Week 5: Illinois Fighting Illini

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    Date: Saturday, September 29th

    Time: TBA

    Location: Champaign, Ill.

    Television: TBA

    Last year, Penn State was able to defeat Illinois 10-7. As usual, Penn State's offense was terrible. The defense won it for the Nittany Lions.

    This year, Illinois is in total rebuild mode. They have a new head coach and, like Penn State, that means a whole new philosophy.

    Illini coach Tim Beckman, former head coach of the Toledo Rockets, has already drawn attention to his team and himself. Beckman sent six assistants to Penn State to recruit its players. What impact will this have on the game? I hope it will have a big impact.

    That act of him sending six assistants to recruit players really infuriated me. I hope Penn State knocks Illinois around, and I think they will.

    Penn State, 28-7

    Record: 5-0


Week 6: Northwestern Wildcats

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    Date: Saturday, October 6th

    Time: 12 p.m.

    Location: University Park, Pa.

    Television: TBA

    Special Notes: Homecoming

    I have a lot of respect for Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald. He comes off as a great guy and I think he is a good football coach. Fitzgerald has been at Northwestern for seven years, the second-longest tenure of any Big Ten coach. His players respect him and so should his opponents.

    Penn State will not have an easy game on their hands for homecoming weekend. Northwestern will come out swinging and jump on the Nittany Lions early. The homecoming crowd will help bring Penn State back into the game and lead them to victory.

    Penn State, 24-10

    Record: 6-0

Week 7: Bye Week

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    At this point, I have Penn State at 6-0. By now some of you probably think I'm crazy. But honestly, Penn State should be favored in every game up until this point. Much like last year, Penn State's tough opponents do not come until the last few weeks of the season.

    If there is any doubt, I would like to point out that I was perfect with my Penn State predictions up until Week 11 last year.

    Have faith in me, PSU fans!

Week 8: Iowa Hawkeyes

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    Date: Saturday, October 20th

    Time: 8 p.m.

    Location: Iowa City, Iowa

    Television: Big Ten Network

    No matter what, it seems Penn State always struggles with Iowa. Penn State fans will surely remember the 24-23 loss that knocked Penn State out of the national title picture in 2008.

    As much as it pains me to say it, Penn State will lose this game. I think it will be due to a variety of factors, not just one. Sitting at 6-0, Penn State will come into the game a little cocky. The Nittany Lions will also surely have injuries that will hurt their depth in key areas. I also think this will be quarterback Matt McGloin's worst game.

    Call it a hunch, but Penn State's offense will really struggle against Iowa.

    Iowa, 17-7.

    Record: 6-1

Week 9: Ohio State Buckeyes

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    Date: Saturday, October 27th

    Time: 6 p.m.

    Location: University Park, Pa.

    Television: ESPN/ESPN2

    Penn State and Ohio State will renew their heated rivalry again on a cool autumn night. The Penn State crowd will be dressed in all white. First-year coach Urban Meyer will need to be on his A-game against Penn State as his Buckeyes will get all they can handle.

    The problem in this game will be Penn State having too much emotion. Trying to avenge its loss to Iowa, Penn State will take a few unnecessary risks that don't pay off. Meyer's veteran college football mind will keep Penn State guessing all game long as well.

    Ohio State, 28-13

    Record: 6-2.

Week 10: Purdue Boilermakers

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    Date: Saturday, November 3rd

    Time: TBA

    Location: West Lafayette, Ind.

    Television: TBA

    Traditionally, this would be the perfect timing for a game against the Purdue Boilermakers. It is no secret that Purdue has struggled recently. However, last season the Boilermakers finished 7-6. Add in that Purdue returns a Big Ten-high 19 starters and you have the foundation for a good season.

    Regardless, after dropping two games to Iowa and Ohio State, Penn State will be hungry for a win. This will be a case of the wrong place at the wrong time for Purdue.

    Penn State, 23-10.

    Record: 7-2

Week 11: Nebraska Cornhuskers

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    Date: Saturday, November 10th

    Time: TBA

    Location: Lincoln, Neb.

    Television: TBA

    Another rivalry game, this time against cross-country foe Nebraska. Penn State and Nebraska always have entertaining games that come down to the final moments. Last year, Nebraska defeated Penn State 17-14. This year, Penn State travels to Lincoln to try to return the favor.

    The way Nebraska's schedule is set up does not bode well for Penn State. For five weeks in a row, Nebraska must face Wisconsin, travel to Ohio State and Northwestern, host Michigan and travel to Michigan State. All of those teams, with the exception to Northwestern, are ranked in the top 25.

    I think Nebraska will lose to Michigan and Wisconsin, with Michigan State being a toss-up game. That makes the Penn State game a must-win for the Cornhuskers, and they will win.

    Nebraska, 28-17.

    Record: 7-3

Week 12: Indiana Hoosiers

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    Date: Saturday, November 17th

    Time: TBA

    Location: University Park, Pa.

    Television: TBA

    Last season, Indiana finished 1-11 and did not beat a FBS team. I'm going to keep this one short and sweet. Penn State will win. If the Nittany Lions lose at home to Indiana, the good vibe of the season would really take a hit.

    Penn State, 35-10

    Record: 8-3

Week 13: Wisconsin Badgers

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    Date: Saturday, November 24th

    Time: TBA

    Location: University Park, Pa.

    Television: TBA

    The toughest test of the season comes in the last game. Wisconsin is always a tough foe Penn State, and this year will be no different.

    Wisconsin has a new quarterback, Maryland transfer Danny O'Brien, to replace Russell Wilson, who has moved on to the NFL. The Badgers also have Heisman candidate Montee Ball at running back.

    The game is at home, and Penn State will want to give the fans something to remember. The Nittany Lions will need a big trademark win to cap off a season filled with turmoil.

    This is Penn State's bowl game. But win or lose, Wisconsin is still in the Big Ten title game. Due to that, Wisconsin loses a little of its edge.

    Penn State takes the Badgers to double overtime but falls short.

    Wisconsin, 26-23

    Final Record: 8-4, 4-4 in the Big Ten


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    Bill O'Brien's first season as head coach of Penn State will be a success. An 8-4 record gets him off to a good start. However, only winning four conference games leaves room for improvement.

    O'Brien sets himself up with a strong foundation for next season and proves that he and his team can overcome any and all obstacles. Recruits will now have faith in a proven coach and will give Penn State the consideration it deserves.

    The postseason ban for three more years will not matter. Penn State will not go away quietly.

    The outsiders to Penn State will probably not understand how I can be optimistic about this program, but I have never been more excited for a PSU football season. Why am I so optimistic?

    Penn State can't fail anymore. The Nittany Lions have nowhere to go but up. The nation expects nothing from Penn State for the next 20 years.

    Many expect us to fade into a shadow of our former glory, our tradition becoming nothing more than a fleeting memory. They think our team will become so sub-par, it will begin to resemble a Division II school.

    I tell you now, everyone will remember this time in Penn State history. This is the time of a new beginning. A time of a new era, one that will lead Penn State back to the glory that the program had before it was tarnished.

    Penn State is not dead. The football program will emerge from this period of sanctions more united and stronger than ever before.

    In four years, Penn State will emerge as the next "feel good, American underdog story." Like it or not, Penn State is here to stay. The new era has only just begun.


    *All date, time, game location and television broadcast information was obtained at