It's that time of year where a lot of numbers start to be thrown around, so let's take a look by section.
PSU @ Alabama -9.5
Temple @ PSU -17.5
PSU @ Iowa -3
PSU -10 @ Minn
Michigan @ PSU -10
PSU @ OSU -7
MSU @ PSU -10.5
The general perception is that PSU is going to have severe growing pains early, bringing a new QB into Tuscaloosa and whatnot, and then gets it together by Big Ten play. I suspect this is overstated considering our biggest weakness, leadership on offense, is matched up against a ‘Bama team returning just two defensive starters. It's still a dynamic, though.
As for Big Ten play, the lines say we're an equal match for Iowa and slight dog to Ohio State on a neutral field. They're both away, however, so that's a disadvantage. The rest of the Big Ten save Wisconsin remains significantly behind per the lines.
The one other thing to point out: Adjusted for home field Wisconsin is a 3-point favorite against MSU, 6-point dog to Ohio State and pick against Iowa. In other words: picked to struggle more with MSU but perform exactly like Penn State against OSU and Iowa.
Which makes this kind of strange...
And yes, necessarily in that order. Odds of earning the BCS bid. I can't wait until 2011 when we can just call this "conference champion."
3591 Illinois +1500
3592 Indiana +2000
3593 Iowa +300
3594 Michigan +1000
3595 Michigan State +1000
3596 Minnesota +2000
3597 Northwestern +2000
3598 Ohio State +150
3599 Penn State +650
3600 Purdue +1500
3601 Wisconsin +300
Ohio State—no surprise there—followed closely by Iowa and a futher-back Wisconsin. Penn State sits at more than twice the odds of the Badgers.
Considering the lines of PSU and Wisconsin are about equal in terms of neutral field play, this brutal road schedule is effectively making it twice as hard to win the Big Ten as something more balanced. So don't understate it.
Still, I'm not buying the Wisconsin thing and it seems like a sucker's bet from here. Besides Iowa gets them at home.
But these things have to jump off from somewhere. And that place is probably this consensus pre-season ranking.
There's diversity in where the rankings come from but hardly any in thought. Ohio State and Iowa sit mostly in the top-10. Wisconsin, save one 6(!) and one 23, sit just outside that.
Penn State is a fair 20 considering the questions no one knows the answer to. PSU is as high as 14 (from SI) and as low as...well TSN left them out completely.
The not-quite nightmare this year is losses to the three top-10 teams we play on the road and perhaps one along the way. With no luck we end up with four losses. But last year four-loss teams were as high as 14th (Nebraska) and there was a five-loss team in there at 24 (Clemson).
Leaving Penn State out of your guess at the final poll is to predict complete fallout.
The Pre-Season Pryor of the Year Award Goes To(!) Early Heisman Odds:
Ingram is a safe and logical bet considering his status as returning Heisman winner. I'm done ragging on Pryor because it's getting old, but the logical counterpoint to his hype still stands: look at his numbers in every meaningful game (Toldedo and Indiana don't count): he has one good performance against Oregon in the Rose Bowl and one absolute debacle against Purdue in their loss. In every other game he was a role player compared to the guys in New York last year.
Yeah, Royster is in there, but he's basically "the field" behind Ingram and Pryor. And make no mistake about this: he's shooting Nerf crossbow arrows at skeets unless Penn State knocks of both Iowa and Ohio State on the road.
And one final note, from the statheads. Football Outsiders released their 11-25 ranking earlier this week, including a long list of "just missed the cuts." With Penn State a consensus ranking around 20 and this:
Total Draft Points Lost to 2010 Draft - Overall
1. Florida (86)
2. Oklahoma (68 -- 43 without Bradford and Gresham)
3. Alabama (58)
4. Texas (56)
5. USC (55)
6. Tennessee (51)
7. Iowa (49)
8. Penn State (40)
9. LSU (39)
10. South Florida (36)
10. Georgia Tech (36)
Well I anticipated a snub. I anticipated wrong, though:
No. 8 Penn State Nittany Lions
Proj. 2010 Offensive F/+ Rank: 14th
Proj. 2010 Defensive F/+ Rank: 8th
Top 25 Opponents: 3 (all away)
Keep in mind this is a "power ranking," based on a teams expected strength and not how the 2010 results will be screwed around with after the AP finishes taking all the logic out of them. The schedule sucks, no doubt, but FO says they're pretty darn good.