Penn State football coach James Franklin has to be tired of hearing the same question every offseason. Is this the year you make the College Football Playoff? Every pundit and gas bag (including yours truly) puts the Nittany Lions atop every list of teams who’ll benefit most from an expanded playoff. That said, Penn State has every opportunity to break through in the last year of the four-team playoff.
The Nittany Lions’ record against the Buckeyes and Wolverines is a combined 4-12. In other words, Penn State does well against the rest of the Big Ten relative to Ohio State and Michigan (the Nittany Lions are 3-4 against Michigan State). Despite playing both teams tough most times, the record is the record.
Does Penn State football have a chance this season?
This season could be their best opportunity in a long time with the roster they have. The limitation that has always hindered Penn State was the quarterback. Trace McSorley and Sean Clifford were solid quarterbacks, but they weren’t CJ Stroud or Justin Fields as prospects. This season, however, Drew Allar takes the helm of the offense.
Franklin and his staff did not hesitate to put high-level talent around his star quarterback. The Nittany Lions went to the transfer portal and signed Kent State wide receiver Dante Cephas and Florida State wide receiver Malik McClain. Couple that with three outstanding prospects at tight end who could all challenge for snaps this fall and returning running backs Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen. Suffice it to say that the offense is going to be loaded.
This is all up to Drew Allar. Penn State’s defense should be solid again despite the losses of Joey Porter Jr., P.J. Mustiphar, and Ji’Ayir Brown.
With the Iowa game at home, Penn State gets Illinois, Northwestern, and Iowa as their Big Ten West opponents. They get Ohio State on the road, but the Buckeyes are unsettled at quarterback, and the Nittany Lions get Michigan at home.
Is this the year? Legendary football show host Chris Berman would tell you, “That’s why they play the game.”