How'd We Do? BSD Reflects on Our 2013 Preseason Predictions

We won't be tooting our own horns in this post. Ok, maybe a little. - Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Hint: we did not do very well.

Back in August, as we do every August, the staff of Black Shoe Diaries made some predictions on the season. As with most seasons, they were shaded through blue-tinted glasses; today, we're here to eat crow, and point out what we did and didn't get wrong.

Chide away in the comments.

*Editor's note: I might have made up some of the responses, as some of the staff have things called "lives" and "school" and stuff, and didn't get back to us in time for publishing.--CG

Ben

what he said then:

Syracuse is exactly the type of team I do NOT want to play to start the season, sporting a brand new Division 1A QB. That Scott Shafer dude runs out a new defensive formation for each of the first 20 plays, and blitzes the bee-jee-bus out of you all game long...UCF, conversely, might blitz twice all game, and maybe substitutes into a different look the same amount - that is, almost never. But, they gave Ohio State all they could handle at the 'Shoe last year...Kent State? I don't know, but they have a fast, little guy that's difficult to tackle, and they won 10 games last year... Penn State, on the other hand, has: a) 66 scholarship players; b) zero concrete idea about what to expect from the new QB, whoever he might be; c) a difficult time running a scout team o-line at tackle today, before injuries; and d) a schedule that is more difficult than last year, with conference opponents who should, all things considered, be better on average than they were last year. Eastern Michigan looks like the only opponent on the schedule against whom PSU could cough up three turnovers and still win. And young QB's tend to make non-pastry turnovers. But nothing bad has happened yet, they've faced zero adversity, and it's still officially summer. So put me down for 12-0.

what he says now:

"Eastern Michigan looks like the only opponent on the schedule against whom PSU could cough up three turnovers and still win. And young QB's tend to make turnovers."

Yup. Penn State turned the ball over in 2013 at nearly twice the rate (22) as in 2012 (13). And everyone, save Eastern Michigan and Kent State minus Dri Archer, ended up being a tough out for our Lions this year. Go figure.

However, Penn State coughed up FOUR turnovers against both Syracuse and Michigan - and won both games (though the defense got 3 back in each game, as well). Those two small miracles, and the +3 margin against Bucky the Badger, made 2013 one of the best 7-5 seasons I can remember. Hard to believe the guys down 20-odd scholarships beat two different ranked teams this year. We'll remember both of those games for a long time.

Bill

what he said then:

Games they definitely should win -- Eastern Michigan, Kent State, at Indiana, Illinois, at Minnesota, Purdue...Games they probably should win -- Syracuse, UCF...Games they probably shouldn't win -- Michigan, Nebraska, at Wisconsin...Games they shouldn't win -- at Ohio State. Of those first two lists, I think they win every game...Of those last two, I think they lose at Ohio State and at Wisconsin...I think the Ohio State game is closer than the Wisconsin game...I think Penn State beats Michigan -- it's Michigan's second road game of the year, Beaver Stadium will be rocking, it's homecoming weekend, and I hate Michigan more than any other school, among other reasons. As for Nebraska, I think Penn State loses that game...End of the day, Penn State is 9-3.

what he says now:

I got Bortles'd and jinxed the team by going to the Indiana game. I predicted that Penn State would go 9-3 on the season, and I wasn't TOO far off. I got Bortles'd, jinxed the team by going to Indiana, and completely underestimated Minnesota (although to be fair, who didn't?). However, I also had zero faith that PSU would stand any chance against Wisconsin. Got that one wrong. Glad that happened.

Despite that, I still stand by my "bowl ban gets lifted, 11-1 and a Rose Bowl in 2014" prediction. Why? Because it's going to happen, that's why. Please don't leave Allen Robinson.

Cari

what she said then:

I'm going to say 7-5...I know, I know, we return a heckuva lot and we have great potential. And if we didn't have depth issues, and if I didn't think we'd wear down by the end of the season, I'd pick us 9-3 or 10-2. I just think that by the end of the season, we'll be tired...so, 7-5 it is, with losses to OSU, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Michigan. But, Cari, you say! That's only four losses! And to that I say, you're right. Math is hard (unless you're John Urschel). The fifth loss is a toss up for me between UCF and Indiana (yes, Indiana--those shirts will be vintage soon). It won't be a horrible season by any stretch, but I don't think it'll be as inspiring as last year.

what she says now:

Sometimes it's fun to be right. This is probably not one of those times, as I would have loved nothing more to have been proven pessimistic. That being said, I was still right, huh? And I'll take a loss to Minnesota (that I didn't see coming preseason) matched with a dominant victory at Wisconsin (especially coupled with a four-overtime Homecoming thriller over a previously undefeated opponent) in a 7-5 year any time.

I hadn't remembered I predicted we might lose to Indiana, but perhaps that's why I wasn't as bent out of shape as so many others--the streak had to end sometime, and I'm glad it was this year and not when PSU was at full strength. And we won two of the games I had penciled in, preseason, as sure losses--and ending the season on an uplifting, program- and offseason-building win is always a good thing.

Dan

what he said then:

While the trio of Thunder (Zack Zwinak), Lightning (Bill Belton) and OMGGETTHEHELLOUTOFTHEWAY (Akeel Lynch) look to be a formidable backfield for any defense to have to stop, the Lions will have to pass the ball at some point...a lot will be riding on the shoulders of either (or both) Tyler Ferguson/Christian Hackenberg in 2013. ..If depth issues are going to take place this season, it's going to happen on the defensive side of the ball. And while this isn't your grandfather's "three yards and a cloud of dust" Big Ten, the Penn State defense will still need to show up healthy and ready to go each week for every team's best shot...The non-conference schedule has three games that Penn State cannot take lightly and the likes of athletic quarterbacks such as Devin Gardner, Braxton Miller and Taylor Martinez later in the season when injuries will begin to take their toll definitely leave me unsettled...I believe in BOB. I believe in Larry Johnson and Ron Vanderlinden to hold serve when the defense gets run ragged...Put me down for another 8-4 season (losses to Michigan, Ohio State, Nebraska and a surprise).

what he says now:

Nothing, because he's dead to us *sobs*.

Devon

what he said then:

It's hard to say just how good this Penn State team will be, if for no other reason than because, as I write this, we still don't have a quarterback...If either can be an unspectacular game manager, then this is an 8-win team. If either can step in from day one and produce like McGloin did, then we might be looking at a 10-win group. And if either struggles--in that situation, if both struggle--well, you'd have to think the schedule and the defense and the running game will be enough to get this team to 6 wins...A loss to Syracuse wouldn't come as a shock, but it wouldn't be the portent of a long year...Gun to my head, I'll say 8-4, but there's very little that would surprise me in BOB's second year.

what he says now:

I don't know, the opposite?

Jared

what he said then:

The secondary is much deeper and experienced than at this point last year. ..the defensive line has the potential to be one of the best units of the past several seasons...the inexperience at quarterback could cost the team a game against Syracuse or Central Florida...Our defense could be easily attacked if one or two of the starters at linebacker have to miss playing time...I have a weird feeling that this is the year Indiana finally gets its first win against Penn State...Penn State manages to go undefeated in non-conference play, followed by a 5-3 B10 showing. These games include a cathartic win against Nebraska and a surpisingly solid win at Wisconsin. On the flip side I'll predict a 17-point loss to Ohio State after another rough second half against the Buckeyes, a heartbreaking last-minute loss to Michigan, and a beyond-frustrating loss to the Hoosiers where everything that can possibly goes wrong, does.

what he says now:

Looking back, I was definitely predicting from my heart, not my head. I wasn't too far off, but 9-3 was a tad too generous considering the team would be breaking in a true freshman quarterback and would field a team with 30 less players than their opponents all season. The two biggest misconceptions I had coming in was that the offensive line would be one of the most dominating in the Big Ten, and that the dropoff in the linebackers would be minimal. I firmly believed Penn State would field its best offensive line since 2008 based on the experience across the board, as well as the fact they had another offseason in Fitz's program under their belt. They played well throughout the season, but were far from dominating. As for the linebackers, I thought Mike Hull would pick up where Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges left things last season. Unfortunately, Hull had to deal with nagging injuries for most of the season. I expect him to bounce back in a big way in 2014. The other linebackers have a lot of promise, but I learned that Penn State can't just throw any three linebackers on the field and have them play like All-Americans simply because they're Linebacker U.

Finally, I must offer a #humblebrag and point out that I successfully predicted a frustrating loss to Indiana and a "surprisingly solid" win at Wisconsin.

Nick, the original

what he said then:

I'm going with 9-3. From the distant view of August, the only game on the schedule that I'm really sour on is Ohio State in Columbus, but I also expect injuries and depth issues to cause some problems late in the year. To be honest, I would not be shocked by 7-5, or 12-0 for that matter, there's still a lot of uncertainty and this team lost a lot of important guys from last year and it'll depend how the next man up steps in until I can get a better grasp on the floor/ceiling for this squad.

what he says now:

This was the most mysterious Penn State team I ever remember entering a season. Even with a new staff last year, there were enough returning players to give us a hint at potential, with continued coaching change and the loss of those bedrock seniors from the prior season, very little was known. I went with 9-3, but would have been shocked by 7-5, or 12-0. We got 7-5, were "10 plays from 10-2," and just as far from a 3-9 season.

The offense was inconsistent, as expected, with a true freshman QB that only had fall practice to get acclimated and had to rely on a defense that struggled against teams with QB’s capable of a modicum of accuracy. Most disappointing were the two performances coming off a bye week, even if Ohio State was the one team I already conceded a loss to in August. The bright side was the offense ended the year looking better in every way and the team pulled off the improbable win in Madison to ride a positive wave of energy into the offseason.

Nick version 2.0

what he said then:

I'm going to be bold and say 10-2...I think when we meet with Ohio State (and lose to Ohio State), it will be a battle of undefeated teams. Aside from Michigan (Whiteout, Night Game, we ain't losing), the schedule is pretty soft up until we face off with the Buckeyes...the other loss is going to come to either Nebraska or Wisconsin. As much as I want to say this will be the year we beat Nebraska, I'm just not sure if I see it...I just get a bad feeling from the Cornhuskers...As far as Wisconsin, we are clearly the superior team.

what he says now:

I was a little too ambitious with my preseason prediction. I would have correctly predicted the UCF loss had Bill not talked me out of it (Life Tip: Never listen to Bill about anything). I correctly predicted losses to O$U and Nebraska, though, so points in my favor there. I somewhat called the win over Wisconsin, although I used the reasoning that we were the clearly superior team. There was lots of optimism in this post, guys, but I did get a lot of things right for such an inaccurate prediction. That's how you know I'm a true champion. Go State.

Nikki

what she said then:

Being the dreamer that I am, my eternally optimistic football predictions might be a little too much to hope for...we’re not going to lose in September...I don’t think Michigan will beat us at home, at night, it’s a White Out...do I need to keep going? Ohio State will be a challenge, but since I’m writing this from the porch of my house in Athens, Ohio, I think I’m actually obligated to say that we’ll beat OSU...I think we can beat Wisconsin again but Nebraska will be tough...I’m going with 12-0, because I love the Nittany Lions and they’re perfect and they can never do anything wrong. And don’t tell me I took the easy way out. It’s hard to be this optimistic.

what she says now:

Guys, I think we lost Nikki.

Tim A

what he said then:

Nothing, because that was amidst his self-imposed exile from BSD. Supposedly.

what he says now:

Now that this 2013 PSU football season is in the book, allow me to say that I secretly predicted back in August that the team would go 7-5, losing a couple games they shouldn't (UCF and Indiana), but also beating a superior-on-paper Michigan squad in a White Out and shocking a sleepwalking Wisconsin team still hung over from the their Thanksgiving tryptophan overdose. I simply didn't want to play my hand too soon, hence why I'm telling you all of this now in December after the fact.

Eat your heart out, Dave Jones.

Tim H

what he said then:

Nothing; he must've missed the preseason memo.

what he says now:

I did not make an official preseason prediction here on Black Shoe Diaries, and I can't recall why I didn't, but if I had made an official preseason prediction here on Black Shoe Diaries, I can assure you that my preseason prediction would have been a dire and depressing one.

When the sanctions were first handed down, I remember thinking that Penn State by the 2013 season would probably be not only the worst team in the Big Ten, but quite possibly one of the worst teams in the entire nation; I mean, I envisioned some truly miserable times. For context: I have a good friend who went to Indiana, and I told him around that time, on more than one occasion, that because of these sanctions, Penn State would fall so far as to make a loss to the Hoosiers not only a very real possibility, but a strong probability.

As it turns out, that latter prediction was correct (I still can't figure that game out, by the way, and I say that with the greatest of respect to Kevin Wilson and Indiana), but the former clearly wasn't. Against all odds, Bill O'Brien managed again this season to field a team that, despite obvious disadvantages, was able to more than hold its own in the Big Ten. The dynamics of the Penn State fan base are what they are, and O'Brien is never going to make everyone happy, but anyone who actually understands college football and actually understands what this program is up against knows what an amazing job this guy is doing. A 7-5 record given the restrictions he's operating under isn't quite a miracle; but it certainly represents a job well done.

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