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Penn State Projected As Top 10 Team In “Way-Too-Early” 2023 Rankings

We’re...back? Maybe?

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Rose Bowl - Utah v Penn State Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The 2022 college football season is over, but as is tradition, we are ready to turn the page to 2023. Basically every single outlet came out with their “Way-Too-Early” rankings late last night/early this morning, and the returns for Penn State show that the Nittany Lions might have a nice little ball club come next fall.

As you can see, Penn State is safely in the top 10 for every media organization, and made it into the top 5 for a few. Here’s what a couple had to say specifically.

Sports Illustrated

If ever the Nittany Lions are going to break to the Michigan–Ohio State grip on the Big Ten East, this could be the time. They have a pair of running backs returning who rushed for more than 1,900 yards combined in 2022. Everyone is excited about quarterback Drew Allar. Left tackle Olu Fashanu, a projected first-round pick, has already announced he will bypass the draft and stay in school. Linebacker Abdul Carter was one of the best freshmen in the country on that side of the ball in ’22, and North Carolina transfer defensive back Storm Duck will fill a need. The schedule is manageable, with an intriguing potential advantage in the middle: Penn State’s two weeks before playing at Ohio State on Oct. 21 are an open date and a walkover against Massachusetts.


After a couple of mediocre seasons, coach James Franklin has the Nittany Lions headed back in the right direction. Penn State won 11 games in 2022 and might be poised to challenge Michigan and Ohio State for a Big Ten title. Clifford departs at quarterback, but the coaching staff is excited about freshman Drew Allar, who was the No. 2 pocket passer in the 2022 ESPN 300. Many of Penn State’s best players this past season were freshmen or sophomores, including tailbacks Kaytron Allen and Nicholas Singleton, receiver KeAndre Lambert-Smith, cornerback Kalen King and linebacker Abdul Carter. The defense made tremendous strides under new coordinator Manny Diaz, finishing in the top 20 in the FBS in scoring defense, run defense and total defense. The Nittany Lions will play division crossover games against Iowa (home) and Illinois (road) next season, and they’ll play Ohio State on the road and Michigan at home.

Sporting News

James Franklin broke the losing streak against top-10 teams with Penn State’s impressive 35-14 victory against Utah in the Rose Bowl. Now, the Drew Allar era at quarterback begins, and running back Nick Singleton seems primed to be one of the best running backs in the country. Tackle Olu Fashanu is back, too. Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz returns a solid unit that features Abdul Carter and Caleb King. This might be their best team since the 2016 Big Ten championship team. Michigan visits Happy Valley, and the Nittany Lions have to win at Ohio State. The stakes have not changed.