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Midweek Musings - Let the Games Begin

Time for the big boy pants

NCAA Football: Illinois at Penn State Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Through the first two weeks of the season, Penn State has found success against two teams that are average to below average. Which is what good teams do - they win against lesser opponents. This is not meant as a slight against either West Virginia or Delaware. West Virginia’s current FPI is #61 in the country, which would mean they’d be one of the worst Power 5 teams. Add in Group of 5 teams to get the entire roster of 133 teams in D-1, and WVU is smack in the middle of the pack.

Delaware is unranked in FPI, and likely would contend with many teams in the lower annals of D-1, being a ranked FCS team. But I have to assume, given the results on the field, that their FPI would be fairly substantially lower than West Virginia’s.

So, long story short, the Lions have not played a murderer’s row of teams just yet.

Time for Big Ten play.

The funny thing is, the Illinois Fighting Illini are not exactly a huge step up the FPI ladder from the competition Penn State has already faced. Right now, the Illini are ranked #53, so just a smidge better than the Mountaineers. A far cry from their #24 FPI ranking to end the 2022 season. But, given that this is a road contest, this will be a good toe dip into playing the Big Ten. A step up from previous competition, on the road, but not a huge step.

Iowa at #34 will present the largest remaining challenge in the front half of the schedule, before having to contend with Ohio State at #2, Maryland at #42, and Michigan at #10.

But FPI rankings change weekly, and this is the Big Ten. Upsets happen every week, and familiarity can render obvious talent gaps moot. So far the Lions haven’t been punched in the mouth, and there are quite a few defenses in the Big Ten that are capable of doing just that.

So, buckle your chin straps, because this ride is about to get bumpy. Luckily, there are a few smaller bumps before the massive ones down the line, but it is as they say: any given Saturday.