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Penn State Closing Argument: It’s Not Easy Being Drunk All the Time

Maybe James Franklin should try some milk of the poppy during the fourth quarter in Columbus.

Penn State Blue-White game Abby Drey/Centre Daily Times/TNS via Getty Images

James Franklin has a lot of questions to answer in the upcoming 2019 campaign. The outspoken head coach hasn’t won more than seven games in a season at Penn State without Trace McSorley under center, and he still hasn’t jumped over the “beat a ranked team on the road” hurdle, if that still means anything to anyone. I’ll take my New Year’s Six bowl victory on the west coast against a Pac-12 opponent and feel just fine about it, but that’s just me.

I. Case History and Opening Statement

A. Case History

Franklin’s biggest bugaboo during his Penn State tenure has been fourth quarters. Two years in a row, Penn State led Ohio State and Michigan State in the final period, and two years in a row, both games ended up as heartbreaking losses. It’s one thing to be undone by the heroics of Buckeye greats like J.T. Barrett and Dwayne Haskins, but how does anyone blow a lead to the Spartans two years in a row with the way they’ve struggled on offense? I’ll answer my own question: because offense is just as important to maintaining a lead as defense.

Franklin’s up-tempo, big-play approach is great for coming from behind, but it doesn’t do anything to melt the clock when the Lions are looking to close out a game. Now that the more pocket-oriented Sean Clifford is the starting quarterback, I don’t expect Franklin and offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne’s approach to suddenly change. However, you have to wonder how effective the offense — which fit McSorley like a glove — will be with the sophomore under center.

B. Opening Statement

The offense may be a bit of a mystery, but Penn State’s defense has a chance to do some serious damage. Yetur Gross-Matos, Micah Parsons, John Reid, and Garrett Taylor all return for a unit that finished fourth in the Big Ten in scoring defense. It’s got the potential to be atop that category at the end of 2019. Even if the offense struggles, the soft non-conference schedule and experienced defense will keep Penn State from falling out of bowl contention.

II. Discovery

2019 Cocktail Party Preview

Quarterbacks and Cocktails

Offensive Line Woes

Mailbag Q&A

Fish and Linebackers

OTE Podcast

Ice Cream and Record Predictions

Why Do We Hate Penn State?

III. What We Can Learn From Pop Culture

Just like the Game of Thrones saga, Penn State’s matchups against Ohio State and Michigan State were looking great until James Franklin, David Benioff, and D.B. Weiss need to close. Aw, now I’m bummed out all over again. I’ll cheer up the mood with my favorite Tyrion Lannister quote.

Okay, one more.

IV. Closing Statement

I’m a big believer in Sean Clifford. It’s not just that he looked great in a small sample of garbage time last year. It’s more telling that Tommy Stevens stuck with the program so long only to transfer that shows how Clifford must have had a powerful hold on the starting job. If Penn State is to surpass expectations and challenge Ohio State and Michigan in 2019, it’s because of a breakout campaign from its new quarterback. I’m psyched to see him let it rip.

V. Verdict/Predictions

OTE Penn State Record Predictions

"Writer" Overall Prediction Big Ten Prediction
"Writer" Overall Prediction Big Ten Prediction
87townie 10-2 7-2
Aaron Yorke 8-4 5-4
babaoreally 9-3 6-3
beezer07 8-4 5-4
BigRedTwice 9-3 6-3
Boilerman31 8-4 5-4
BrianB2 7-5 4-5
Brian Gillis 9-3 6-3
Candystripes 10-2 7-2
Dead Read 9-3 6-3
MNWildcat 9-3 6-3
Ray Ransom 9-3 6-3
Stew 8-4 5-4
Thump 9-3 6-3
WhiteSpeedReceiver 11-1 8-1
Average 8.9-3.1 5.9-3.1

The good news is that everyone has Penn State beating Pitt, so I don’t have to go into rage mode. The soft non-conference schedule, however, later gives way to a rough Big Ten slate featuring five road games, including three against ranked opponents in Iowa, Michigan State, and Ohio State. Winning any one of those will be a tall task with a first-year quarterback. Plus, there’s a home date with Michigan to deal with. Even if the Lions get that elusive ranked road win, I could see them tripping up against Purdue, Minnesota, or Maryland.


How many games will Penn State win in the 2019 regular season?

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    11 or more
    (43 votes)
  • 28%
    (59 votes)
  • 23%
    (49 votes)
  • 20%
    (42 votes)
  • 5%
    Seven or fewer
    (12 votes)
205 votes total Vote Now