clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

8 Fearless Predictions for Penn State Football in 2018

New, 359 comments

Here’s a few things WE ARE expecting from the Nittany Lions this fall.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Penn State Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Trace McSorley’s (Regular) Season Ends in New York City

What else is there to say about Trace McSorley at this point? To say he has exceeded expectations during his two seasons as Penn State’s starting quarterback is a complete understatement. The last we saw of McSorley, he had perhaps his best game, highlighted by this insane stat: 12/12, 193 yards and two touchdowns on THIRD DOWN passes alone. McSorley continues to get better, and his senior season, surrounded by immense talent on offense, could be the stuff of legends.

Juwan Johnson has at least 10 Touchdown Receptions

This may seem hard to believe, but Johnson has only one career receiving touchdown (although it’s an incredibly memorable one). Now it’s time for him to shine as he likely becomes McSorley’s top receiver in 2018. Johnson is a huge target with outstanding speed, and should be able to find the end zone much more often this fall. He really turned the corner toward the tail end of 2017, and could now emerge as one of the nation’s best receivers.

Penn State Wins a Game Where They Allow 40-plus Points

The Nittany Lion offense should be in great shape, despite the losses of Saquon Barkley, DaeSean Hamilton and Mike Gesicki. The defense, on the other hand? They will need to rely on some inexperienced players from the start and hope they catch on quickly. There will be some weeks where the youthfulness rears its ugly head, and the defense has a tough time getting off the field. This should result in at least a couple spectacularly entertaining and nerve-shredding games along the way.

Blake Gillikin Blasts an 80-yard Punt

It’s no secret that Gillikin has given Penn State a major boost in the field position battle- not only can he flip the field with a booming punt, but also has the precision to bury an offense deep in their own territory with a corner coffin kick. His previous long was a very nice 69-yard punt in 2016, but this year he tops that with a boomer that will have Penn State Twitter abuzz.

Trace McSorley Breaks School Record for Most Passing Yards in a Game

Do you know which Nittany Lion holds this record? It happens to be Christian Hackenberg, who tossed for 454 yards against Central Florida in James Fraklin’s first game as head coach to kick off the 2014 season. Throwing for 455-plus yards in a single game is a tall order, but nothing that McSorley can’t accomplish. McSorley continues to get better over time, and will now be the focal point of the offense for the first time in his Penn State career now that Saquon Barkley is off to the NFL. With a bevy of talented receivers at his disposal, McSorley is ready to let it up and should put up some eye-popping numbers throughout the season.

Miles Sanders Rushes for 200 Yards Against Pitt

Sanders finally exits the shadow of Saquon Barkley after playing a small part in Penn State’s offense during his first two years in State College. Now, the former five-star prospect and top-rated running back in his class is ready to break out on his own and show the world what he can do as the team’s primary back. What better way to for the Pittsburgh native to make a statement than a huge week two performance against the Panthers? He certainly won’t lack any motivation to make a statement as he helps quash any hopes of an upset in his own backyard. Something tells me he comes out hot, and Ricky Rahne is more than happy to keep feeding him the ball.

Shareef Miller Named 1st-Team All-Big Ten Defensive End

Miller is about to get at it this season, along with many of his position mates at defensive end. The redshirt junior has made an impact since the first time he stepped on the field, and continues to get better. Not only will Miller be improved as an upperclassman, he will also greatly benefit from the up-and-comers at defensive end like Shaka Toney, Yetur Gross-Matos and Shane Simmons, who defenses will need to pay more attention to, freeing up Miller to get after the quarterback on a steady basis.

Penn State makes its third consecutive NY6 Bowl

I’m just not able to predict a Big Ten Championship or College Football Playoffs berth for the Nittany Lions with all the productivity that needs to be replaced and inexperienced players who will need to learn on the fly. However, I believe this team will find itself invited to a NY6 bowl for the third consecutive year. And with all the talent James Franklin and co. have stockpiled along the way, we can reasonably expect Penn State to be in the thick of the playoff race on an annual basis. The future is incredibly bright, my friends.