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2017 Preview and Predictions: The Penn State Nittany Lions

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Penn State Will Repeat as Big Ten Champions

NCAA Football: Minnesota at Penn State Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Case History/Opening Statement/Timeline of Events:

Case History

Last year was…unexpected.

In the How Many Games will the Nittany Lions win in 2016 poll last year, the consensus was eight games. Roughly 24% said seven wins, 24% said nine wins and a handful (6%) of drunk BSD patrons said ten or more.

And then the season happened and those drunk BSD’ers looked prescient.

Opening Statement

Here’s what I said in the closing arguments last year:

I can honestly tell you that I was surprised as hell. I was shocked that we lost to Pitt and pissed when we got rolled by Michigan. But the second half of the season was pure, Christmas morning, “there’s a pony under the tree,” joy.

Yep, that kind of joy. He is just so much fun to watch. Soak it up, because Barkley’s level of talent doesn’t show up that often...and usually doesn’t play in the B1G.

Last year I got a couple things right. We had one big upset (we beat Ohio State – did you know that?). Franklin’s staff made him look very, very good. And we made some teams look silly… How you doing, Wisconsin?

The year didn’t end the way we wanted it to. But a 3 point loss in overtime to USC wasn’t the end of the world. Quite the opposite. I believe it’s the beginning of a bright spot for Penn State football.

Penn State football hasn’t been here in a long time. This generation of fans hasn’t ever been here. The older folks, mea culpa, fondly remember the great teams. It wasn’t quite this much of a circus back then - we didn’t have social media, doncha know.

However, the electric feeling surrounding preseason is the same.

But many of you remain skeptical. You didn’t watch any of the games and still believe PSU is all YOLO ball all the time. Let me quote from Penn State’s Offensive Coordinator Joe Moorhead at you:

He has a point. Now I know Chris Godwin was good, but he wasn’t that good.

Penn State comes back loaded at Wide Reciever. We replaced Robinson with Godwin. We’ll replace Godwin with Blacknall or Hamilton or one of the gigantic youngsters like Irvin Charles.

YOLO doing work, baby! He makes it look so easy, doesn’t he? Can’t wait to see him play this year.

Our bad offensive line should be much improved. It’s addition by subtraction - graduate the duffers and let the talented younger kids play. That is the area we’ll improve greatest. How many times did Barkley get the ball to meet a wall of backs last year? Not a crease or a crack to be found. It won’t take much to improve on that.

The big unknown for Penn State is on the other side of the ball. We have to replace two great defensive ends and leader Brandon Bell at linebacker. This is another area where our recriuting should help.

We have a raft of talented defensive ends like Shareef Miller, Torrence Brown, and Shane Simmons. We had glimpses of them last year, but now we’ll see what they can do full time. We won’t know what we have until the first game.

Last year linebacker play was a patchwork affair of putting bodies in as guys fell to injury. According to Bill Connelly, in his preseason review, linebacker was a problem last year. The only player to appear at LB in all 14 games was a walk-on.

Senior Jason Cabinda is healthy and the leader of the defense...Iowa fans may remember him from this play:

Manny Bowen comes back and Koa Farmer will probably start at outside backer. Koa Farmer, who tormented quarterbacks from Maryland, Iowa, and Wisconsin will get a look at full time backer this year. He had a breakout sophomore season last year. Don’t be surprised to see him get defensive player of the week nods at some point this season.

In summary, this should be a fun year. The offensive power from last year returns almost unscathed. The defense lost the most, but should reload with new talent from guys with game experience.

The largest hole is actually in special teams. Joey Julius - The Big Toe - is no longer with the team. I know that will help Jourdan Lewis sleep better at night...

Sadly, Joey is battling some internal demons. We wish you well buddy. Get healthy.

Schedule of Events:

Source: ESPN

II. Discovery

What we wrote in the offseason:

Penn State Cocktail Party Preview

Penn State’s Offense Will be Better in 2017

It’s finally time for Pat Chambers to prove himself as a major-conference head coach

Penn State's defense outperformed the offense in 2016. Can they do it again?

How Did Franklin Go From Hype to Hero?

Penn State’s Tempo, YOLO, and Moorhead for all!

What Saquon Barkley Needs To Win The Heisman

Four Big Ten teams in Top 10 of the Coaches Poll

ESPN Announces the Best Running Backs in the Nation and 3 are From the Big Ten

What we can learn from Pop Culture:

As the father of two kids under the age of 13, I don’t think you can learn anything from pop culture right now. The mantra of “shake yer ass...git paid” wears on my sensibilities.

Instead, I brought you a little glimpse of Pennsylvania’s pop culture:

III. Emotional Plea

I didn’t spend much time thinking about this, because most of you are too stubborn, wrong-headed and set in your ways to change.

But that’s okay, because it’ll make this season all the more fun. I have to say, I laughed my head off during the B1G Championship game. So many of you put aside your differences to root for the mighty Badgers. Solidarity, comrades!

Your big fear was a raft of arrogant Nittany Lions flooding the site. That didn’t happen. Certainly not to the extent of the Sparty invasion or the Iowa “Long Legend” plague of 2015.

Sorry to distort your preconceptions. Penn State fans are too busy celebrating to come partake of your distinct blend of mid-western self loathing and passive aggressive dislike of everyone not wearing your particular set of colors.

Here’s the thing. Penn State has a shiny new toy of an offense. It’s fun as hell to watch, as both the B1G Championship and the Rose Bowl games showed. You don’t have to tell anyone, but you should tune in for some of the games this season. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

Even Eeyore had fun some of the time, so you can too.

I firmly believe we will be in the hunt for the Big Ten Championship at the end of the year. Ohio State is good, but they have a tough schedule. Michigan is gutted and starting over. They have some talented kids, but not enough to get through their schedule.

Penn State should end up with a record comparable to them. It will likely come down to head to head wins again for the East. We may not win it all, but we’ll be in the mix. That’s more than I hoped for at this time last year...and I’ll take it.

In a word, I expect this year to be fun.

Fun Football, Y’all!

In the B1G!?

Who’da thunk it?

The Verdict:

As you can imagine, we run the gauntlet in expectations. I’m a little nervous now that I see the high expectations. The good news is that most of the “writers” expect us to lose 2 games in conference - Ohio State and Michigan.

Challenge accepted.

Here are the results:

You gotta love Ray, at least he’s consistent. The consensus is essentially 10 wins (I round). That makes me a little nervous to see so many people as fired up about Penn State as I am.

That said...15-0 or GTFO!

Your Friend,

Townie