The staff of Writing Illini gives their opinions about what the Big Ten Conference should expect from the Penn State Nittany Lions in 2013. The Nittany Lions are in the second year of their four-year bowl ban and look to build from their 8-4 record from a year ago.
Ricky: I was surprised by the kind of season that the Penn State Nittany Lions experienced in 2012. I thought that the NCAA sanctions from the Sandusky case and the Silas Redd transfer would be a death sentence. However, Coach O’Brien made his team believers and they finished 2012 with an 8-4 record.
2013 will be a different story and its all because of the schedule. PSU will play the same conference opponents this year, except for Northwestern and Iowa. Those foes are being replaced by Michigan and Minnesota. The game against Minnesota will be a toss up, but they will lose against the Wolverines. I also think that their games against Illinois and Wisconsin could turn out differently in 2013. I give the Nittany Lions five wins at best this season.
Austin: Penn State could go one of two ways this season. Let’s be honest, they fared better last year than I expected. They played well under heavy adversity and scrutiny. The coaching staff did well together, and the Nittany Lions surprised a lot of people. That being said, I expect a Penn State team this year that finishes in the top half of their division. I would see them challenging to play in the Big Ten title game, but they won’t because of NCAA sanctions. However, they can expect to be in the mix for a successful season.
Ryan: Tom Dienhart, of BTN.com fame, released his Spring rankings and he called for Penn St. to be 7th overall in the Big Ten this season. It might be a little high, but not by much. Penn St. closed last season out by winning 8 of their final 10 games en route to an 8-4 overall record, 6-2 in the Big Ten.
I could see them slipping behind Minnesota this season as well, but they do return the league’s best WR in the form of Allen Robinson. All he did last season was burst on to the scene with 77 catches for 1,018 yards and eleven touchdowns. They also return 1,000 yard rusher Zach Zwinak. Their first on field problem, however, will most likely be at the QB position as they graduated Matt McGloin and will be looking for a replacement. Their other major issue is going to be depth as they have only 65 scholarship players on hand now thanks to the NCAA sanctions from the Sandusky case. Expect a fall from the top half of the conference and you probably won’t be too far off.
What do you think, Illini nation? Should Illinois and the Big Ten expect a fight out of PSU this year?
The Writing Illini staff includes lead editor Ricky Widmer along with staff writers, Austin Jabs and Ryan Kraemer.
Follow Ricky on Twitter @RickyWidmer.
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