Penn State finally appears on Paul Myerberg's Preseason countdown of all 120 FBS teams (seriously...the man is a machine). The other B1G teams to have appeared so far (ranking): Indiana (103), Minnesota (92), Purdue (76), Illinois (57), Michigan State (41), Iowa (38), Northwestern (35), and Michigan (29). That leaves Nebraska, Ohio State and Wisconsin to appear with Penn State in Myerberg's Top 20.
His analyses are in depth and are consistently a good read. If you don't feel like heading over for the full read, here is Paul's conclusion:
SEASON BREAKDOWN & PREDICTION
In a nutshell Could a program like Penn State ever really come in under the radar? Maybe back in 2005, when this program was at its nadir, but today? I’d side with no, but I’m extremely surprised with the lack of faith in this team’s ability to return to the Rose Bowl hunt. Perhaps all it took was a slide to seven wins to temper expectations, but consider the following: last year’s team got nothing at quarterback, did not do a good job running the football, couldn’t muster up any pass rush and suffered an almost ridiculous number of injuries. Partner those factors with a wholesale lack of experience and you get 7-6, in short. And you know what? Each of those negatives are fixable; each can be offset with time, practice and snaps, minus the injuries. Offensively, Penn State is going to land improved play under center — it’s up to Bolden, but he has the talent to take the requisite step forward. Can the offensive line be more physical? That’s a mental task, and an incalculable one at that, but the line should be better thanks to last year’s experience. Now, the defense: I think it’s going to be great. If not great then at least very good; great if the pass rush returns to 2009 form, very good if the pass rush improves only slightly. In the big picture, you have to consider Penn State a contender for the Big Ten crown. Getting Wisconsin on the road sets back those Rose Bowl hopes quite a bit, and the three-game stretch to end the year is going to prevent the Nittany Lions from getting back to 10 wins. But in my mind, this is a team with nine-win potential. That resume would include a loss to Alabama and losses in two of three against Nebraska, Ohio State and the Badgers — and means no slip-ups against Iowa, Illinois or Northwestern. The ceiling is high, like B.C.S. high, if everything falls into place. But others teams do have fewer question marks, to be fair, so placing Penn State inside the top 20 and alongside the Buckeyes for second place in the Leaders division is a logical spot.
Dream season A marquee win over Alabama sets the tone for a perfect regular season, complete with additional victories over that deadly trio to end the year.
Nightmare season For the second straight year, it’s 7-6. This time, Penn State can’t blame injuries and inexperience.