And now, the annual roundtable you’ve all been waiting for...the BSD staff chimed in on their record predictions for 2019 and much like with the bajillion other college football/sports sites, the predictions varied between doom-and-gloom to 15-0 or GTFO. As always, we welcome you, dear reader’s predictions in the comments section below. Whose prediction do you most closely align with?
Eli: 12-0 (or GTFO)
Sure, I could sit here and tell you all the reasons why Penn State will finish 8-4, 9-3, or even 7-5, but I won’t do that. Maybe my other staff partners can take on that task. My job here is to tell you how everything is going to go right this season. Penn State will start by blowing the doors off Idaho and Buffalo. Then they’ll have a game similar to last season against Pitt, with the emotion of it being the 100th meeting (and the last one in probably a long while), so it’ll be close for a bit. Then the Nittany Lions will wake up, Sean Clifford will air it out until the clock runs out (because Franklin is petty AF) and the Lions will cruise to victory.
They’ll follow that up by waxing Maryland, getting into a mini-shootout with Purdue (kind of like 2016, where they traded blows for a half then Penn State took over the second half), and surviving the “Iowa Night Game Voodoo Magic” for a second straight time. This is where most people will assume the Lions will fall, having to take on Michigan right after an emotional game against the Hawkeyes. Instead, they’ll end up taking their turn in the annual “home team wins by five touchdowns” event the two teams have going on nowadays.
Then they’ll go to Michigan State, and because it no longer follows a game against Ohio State, the Nittany Lions will suddenly realize they’re the better team and beat them too! After a week’s rest, they face what everyone sees as their trap game against Minnesota, which ends up not being that much of a trap, an Indiana team that’s nowhere near the threat on the road that they are at home, and get a double-digit lead against Ohio State that, after the third time, is actually the charm. They put a bow in it by blowing Rutgers out of the water before the game even starts.
They then go on to win the Big Ten championship game, their two playoff games, and become the second team to go 15-0. Or they GTFO. We’ll see.
Give me 10-2. That feels a bit optimistic, which is a nice change of pace for me, but this team needs to go 10-2 to get the program back on track and for that reason, the fans need to believe they’ll go 10-2. There’s also something about this group that feels like they get it. The 2016 team that shocked everybody played with a swagger that wasn’t really there a year ago. I think players like KJ Hamler, Micah Parsons, Pat Freiermuth and Yetur Gross-Matos bring that back this year and the Nittany Lions start to right the ship.
Chris Lucia: 10-2
Penn State easily takes care of Idaho (1-0) and Buffalo (2-0), then gets a bit of a test from Pitt, but pulls out the dub (3-0).
After the first bye week, they head to Maryland on a Friday, which gives me the heebie jeebies. Illinois made Penn State sweat last year, and the Terrapins are better than the Illini. I’ll say the defense comes up big and preserves the win (4-0, 1-0). Next Purdue visits, and a rebuilding Boilermaker team just doesn’t have it in them (5-0, 2-0).
Here’s where things get interesting. The next three weeks include at Iowa in a likely night game, home against Michigan in a likely night game, and at Michigan State. I think the Lions get through this stretch 2-1, but I couldn’t tell you whom they lose to (7-1, 4-1).
After the bye, the team heads to Minnesota (8-1, 5-1) and hosts Indiana (9-1, 6-1) before heading to the Shoe. Who knows what’ll happen, these teams have been as competitive as any over the last 3 years, but until the Lions actually win, I’m not going to predict it (9-2, 6-2). Rutgers closes out the season, and the Lions await their postseason fate at 10-2, 7-2.
Chris Taylor: 10-2
It seems like most seasons come down to a play or two during a game or two. The difference between 9-4 or 11-2 or 13-0. It’s my feeling that this team could win them all, if the chips fall right. The defense looks like it will be one of the best in years. There are so many question marks on offense due to new faces in the two-deep, it is hard to believe that the offense will be consistent for the entire season.
Let’s hope that the team is at its best against the best and then can afford to win while figuring things out against less challenging opponents. While I hope the team wins them all, I would have to allow for a couple of losses, realistically. 10-2.
Penn State starts the season with comfortable wins over Idaho and Buffalo, then pulls out double-digit victories over Pitt and Maryland on a Friday night to end September 4-0. Purdue causes me a lot of trepidation, especially after seeing how they manhandled Ohio State, and Rondale Moore is the stuff of nightmares. That said, I think the home field gives the Blue and White the edge to move to 5-0. Then, we arrive at Iowa. I know that Trace, Saquon, Saeed, and Juwan got it done in 2017, but the eldritch magic of Kinnick may just be too much for Clifford and Co. I think Iowa gives the Nittany Lions their first loss, and they sit at 5-1, 2-1 in the Big Ten heading into a tough two game stretch.
Michigan provides a source of redemption for the team, and the Whiteout crowd provides the necessary spark for a much-needed win. Spartan Stadium has also been an odd source of struggle for the team in recent times, and unfortunately that continues in 2019. Sparty drops Penn State to 6-2, 3-2.
After victories against Minnesota and Indiana, the Nittany Lions visit the dreaded Buckeyes. I hate Columbus. Ohio State wins.
Penn State beats Rutgers by 900 to end the season at 9-3, 6-3 heading into a bowl game.
Pessimist Lando is back, rejoice!
If you remember, I said in last year’s prediction that *this* season would be *the* year. But then Ryan Bates, Conor McGovern, Miles Sanders, Shareef Miller, and Kevin Givens all left early, and Juwan Johnson opted to transfer to Oregon. All of a sudden, what looked like it was going to be a veteran-heavy 2019 squad has turned into a youth-filled one. Thanks, fellas.
Anyway, for this season, I am just as interested in the process as I am the result. Sure, winning the games are important, but the way in which Penn State plays is just as important. I feel like I said this before, but not every 10-2 or 9-3 record is created equally — some are more impressive than others. And in Penn State’s case last year, its 9-3 season was largely filled with some ugly football. Maybe I am alone on this, but a team vying for a New Year’s Six bowl game shouldn’t only be up 13-0 on Rutgers going into the fourth quarter. Be better. Be more entraining. Make watching Penn State football fun again.
This is a tough Penn State squad to get a read, but there are certainly some 2016 vibes to this team. I just think they will even more unpredictable (and more frustrating) than their 2016 counterparts so let’s go with 9-3. Losses to Iowa and Ohio State, plus a dumb loss to Minnesota. But also games where they look like a top five team with victories over Michigan and at Michigan State.
I could see PSU going anywhere from 11-1 to 8-4, but I feel like 11-1 is closer. The record depends on how the team builds on an early season schedule that will see them at 5-0 with a possible top ten record headed under the lights in Kinnick - and that game’ll give us an indicator of whether the season’ll be special, or just good.
Penn State’s roster is more talented than every team they will face this season except Ohio State and Michigan. And when it comes to the Wolverines, the talent level is a push, the home team has dominated the series in recent seasons, and they’re playing in Beaver Stadium this year. That said, this team does lack experience.
Although I value talent more than experience, parts of the coaching staff worries me. The defensive staff is excellent, so are Tyler Bowen and Ja’Juan Seider, and the early returns on Joe Lorig and Gerad Parker are quite positive. That said, I have zero faith in offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne and offensive line coach Matt Limegrover. Last season Rahne did not show the ability needed when it came to in game adjustments and play calling with the flow of the game. Limegrover’s offensive lines have been disappointments each of the last two seasons.
Penn State should start 5-0. After that, things get difficult. I do not have enough faith in this offense to predict wins in Iowa City or East Lansing. A Whiteout matchup with Michigan - especially if it’s not under the lights - and a trip to Columbus are losses in my book. In my opinion, this is a 10 win team talent wise. But the OC and OL coach end up causing them to underachieve. The program is in dire need of a 10+ win season, but I fear they fall short of that.
Thank goodness for Marty, at least I know I won’t have the most pessimistic prediction in this roundtable. 8-4 is certainly a possibility if Rahne is as bad as Marty believes he will be and if the offensive line rides the strugglebus. Unlike Marty though, I still maintain some level of faith in Ricky, as I believe much that went wrong with the offense last year was due to poor execution, as opposed to poor playcalling. I also think the O-line, despite losing Ryan Bates and Connor McGovern to the NFL, will at the very least be serviceable (as in no 2014-2015 style tire-fire).
I really think Joe Lorig will do for special teams what Joe Moorhead did for the offense when he first arrived in Happy Valley, and the thought of KJ Hamler and Micah Parsons being the kickoff return specialists has me salivating as I type this up.
Defensively is where I’m the most bullish about this team, of course. Defensive tackle and safety seem to have some depth questions, but other than that, expect this unit to feast early and often.
With as optimistic as I’ve sounded thus far, why am I picking 9-3? Frankly, it’s more so I don’t risk emotionally letting myself down if this team doesn’t reach the double-digit win plateau that I think they are capable of doing, despite being youthful on offense and having a rough mid-October stretch where they must visit Iowa at night, host a Michigan team that should be in the thick of the CFP hunt, and travel on the road to East Lansing to face a Michigan State team that somehow finds ways to beat them, no matter how great the talent/depth advantage PSU has. Plus, with college football being college football these days, no team seems to be immune from at least one WTF loss per season.
Alright, that’s enough of me writing: Let’s just start the damn season, already!
I’m going to go on the higher end of the scale and say the Nittany Lions get to that 10 or more wins mark for the third time in four seasons. I think the first five weeks shape up well for the Nittany Lions and there’s no doubt in my mind that they should be undefeated heading into Iowa. That three-week stretch of Iowa, Michigan, and Michigan State is going to be a difficult stretch to say the least and it has been a series of games like this that has tripped them up in the past. That being said, I think the Nittany Lions will win two of three in this stretch.
The Minnesota game coming out of that three-game stretch has a classic trap game feeling but Indiana shouldn’t be too much of an issue for the Nittany Lions either. That leads us into Ohio State week which is a game that I think the Nittany Lions will play close in but ultimately the Buckeyes come out victorious. That puts the Nittany Lions at 9-2 entering the final game of the season against Rutgers which should be an automatic win almost as much as Idaho will be in week one.
I think we’re going to see a Top-10, possibly Top-5 defense in Happy Valley this season but ultimately, the progression of the offense will determine their success. The potential for the offense is sky high but will they get in their way like last season? That will be ultimately what decides the offense’s success this year and Penn State’s overall potential.
I should just go along with a 8-4/9-3 prediction based on the depth chart and new starters who will need to play vital roles this season. But it’s that time of the year when every scenario plays out just the way it needs to in my head. But deep down, I really believe in some of the new faces. I think Sean Clifford will be among the biggest breakout stars of the Big Ten. I see Ricky Slade regularly breaking out big plays with that second gear that not many possess. I see the offensive line coming together (yes, I know you’ve heard it before) and actually being a strength. I believe the thought of the lack of depth at defensive tackle will be an afterthought by the end of September. As long as the defense plays up to expectations (which they always seem to exceed anyways under Brent Pry), a few breakout players from the many highly-touted newcommers on offense can help make 2019 a very memorable season.
For right now, I am going with losses to Iowa and Ohio State. A likely night game at Kinnick along with a fearsome front four for Iowa will make it difficult for the offense to get moving. And after the last two years, I’m just not going to believe Penn State will be able to get past the Buckeyes until they can play a full four quarters and get the ‘W’.