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Penn State Pushing Top 10 In Way-Too-Early Top 25s

We’re onto 2024.

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 24 Penn State at Michigan State Photo by Joseph Weiser/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 2023 college football season just officially wrapped up, with the crowning of (*holds back vomit*) the Michigan (*vomit spews out*) Wolverines.

As one season ends though, another begins. It’s still *way* too early to know exactly what the 2024 season will look like. The transfer portal is still open, while NFL declarations can take place until January 15th. Penn State, for example, is still waiting on decisions from guys like Sal Wormley and KeAndre Lambert-Smith. So a good bit of movement has yet to happen, which can change the prognostications as we move toward the spring and beyond.

Still, we have a decent snapshot at what teams will look like come the fall. Where does the national media see Penn State?

PFF: No. 8

Unlike the (likely) three Big Ten teams above them on this list, the Nittany Lions won’t need to replace their starting quarterback. While Drew Allar often drew the ire of the PSU faithful, he was far from the biggest problem with Penn State’s offense this year. The sophomore’s 87.1 PFF grade was a top-20 mark among FBS quarterbacks while the Nittany Lions finished outside the top-55 teams in both receiving (81st) and pass-blocking (60th) grades this year.

Help is on the way in both aspects as Penn State picked up a couple of former five-star recruits in the transfer portal: wide receiver Julian Fleming (Ohio State) and offensive tackle Nolan Rucci (Wisconsin). The Nittany Lions also have a new offensive coordinator in Kansas’ Andy Kotelnicki to help Allar fully unlock his potential.

Yahoo: No. 10

We’re excited to see what Penn State’s offense looks like in 2024 with former Kansas offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki calling the plays. If you’ve made it this far you know how bad Penn State’s offense was against Michigan and Ohio State in 2023. Those two hurdles remain heading into 2024, but Penn State doesn’t have Michigan on the regular season schedule.

SI: No. 11

The Nittany Lions are hoping for an infusion of offensive electricity with the arrival of new coordinator Andy Kotelnicki from Kansas. Job 1 in that department: upgrading a passing game after quarterback Drew Allar averaged just 6.8 yards per attempt, which tied for 77th nationally. Penn State may feel the loss of defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, now the head coach at Duke, but should still be stout on that side of the ball. Linebacker Abdul Carter has a chance to be a first-team All-American.

ESPN: No. 12

It seemed the Nittany Lions missed a chance in 2023 to challenge Michigan and Ohio State in the Big Ten East with one of the better defenses in the FBS. But Penn State’s passing game wasn’t good enough — it ranked 80th in the FBS with 215 passing yards per contest. Coach James Franklin brought in former Kansas offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki to jump-start his attack. There are some nice pieces coming back in quarterback Drew Allar, running backs Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen and tight end Tyler Warren. Both starting offensive tackles will have to be replaced, and the receiver room needs a serious upgrade. Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz left to become Duke’s head coach and was replaced with former Indiana coach Tom Allen. The Nittany Lions will miss their two departing lockdown cornerbacks, but there’s enough talent returning for Allen to be successful in his first season.

USA Today: No. 15

The factors that will determine Penn State’s offense in 2024? What the Nittany Lions will get (if anything) at WR, how well they break in a rebuilt offensive line and whether QB Drew Allar will blossom under new coordinator Andy Kotelnicki, who worked wonders in the same role at Kansas. If all goes right, Penn State could win the Big Ten or at least land an at-large playoff bid. On defense, former Indiana coach Tom Allen takes over coordinator duties for a unit that looks very good in the front seven but has to find reliable defenders in the secondary to surround rising junior DB Cam Miller.

CBS: No. 16

There have been six offensive coordinators in the last 10 years for James Franklin. The talented Andy Kotelniki is the latest. One issue? Kotelniki is a master in squeezing most out of dual-threat QBs; Drew Allar is not that.

(*Not fixing the Kotelnicki misspelling because Dennis Dodd wrote this blurb and he is a certified dumb-dumb.)

The Athletic: No. 18

Despite 10 wins, Penn State’s season was disappointing. Quarterback Drew Allar needs to make a big jump under new OC Andy Kotelnicki. Running backs Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen enter their third seasons. Ohio State WR Julian Fleming was a big pickup. New defensive coordinator Tom Allen must replace numerous big names like DE Chop Robinson and CB Kalen King, but LBs Abdul Carter and Kobe King, DT Dvon Ellies and CB Cam Miller return.