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Midweek Musings - Midseason Expectations

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Is Penn State who we thought they were?

Heather Weikel

The Penn State Nittany Lions are 7-0, 4-0 in Big Ten conference play, and are the No. 6 team in the country according to the AP Poll.

Midweek Musings asks: does this currently meet, exceed, or fall short of your preseason expectations?

Many people, myself included, predicted that Penn State would finish the season 10-2, with a loss likely against Ohio State, and that the team should be skilled enough to go 2-1 against the Iowa-Michigan-Michigan State gauntlet.

Well, having gone 2-0 against the first two teams in that triumvirate, the Lions can go no worse than 2-1, and if they can escape East Lansing with a win this weekend, would be 3-0 against the hardest stretch of their schedule.

And shoot, if it comes down to just one game against Ohio State for Big Ten East supremacy, we all know that flukes can happen.

Personally, I think my expectations are a bit of a mix when considering my preseason prognostications.

On the one hand, that the Lions have locked up 2-1, and can reasonably go 3-0 against The Gauntlet, thus pushing closer to an 11-1 kind of season, has me over the moon. 11-1 teams that have neither won their conference nor their division have actually made the playoffs - it’s that dang second loss that has bitten Penn State in the past.

On the other hand, the way the Lions have gotten to 7-0 has me feeling more than a little frustrated.

We all knew coming into the season that the defense would be stellar, and that the offense would take some time to work the kinks out.

If the offense were still utterly inept, that might be one thing. But we’ve seen them flash, so much so that when they struggle for half of a game, it’s increasingly noticeable, and increasingly concerning.

The team that won 59-0 over Maryland is a playoff team. The team that went up 28-0 over Purdue in the first 16 minutes of the game is a playoff team. The team that went up 21-0 over Michigan in the first 23 minutes of the game is a playoff team.

The team that then went 7-7 against Purdue in the final 44 minutes is barely bowl eligible. The team that went 7-14 against Michigan in the final 37 minutes is good, but not great, let alone elite.

Of course, it’s unreasonable for me to expect any team to score a touchdown on every single drive. But the hot and cold streaks have made games against Pitt, Iowa, and Michigan way more stressful than they needed to be.

So yeah, that’s a bit of a long ramble to basically say that while I think this Penn State team can hang with most anyone in the country, and that they realistically could be a playoff-worthy team, their inconsistencies just have me feeling a bit angsty overall.

What say you all? Has this team performed better, worse, or about as expected relative to your preseason expectations?