Penn State Nittany Lions 2016 College Football Preview, Schedule, Prediction, Depth Chart, Outlook
Penn State Nittany Lions 2016 Preview
Odds to Win National Championship 175-1
The 2016 Penn State Nittany Lions will get lost within the supreme talent among the leading names in the Big Ten Conference, but this team certainly has the tools to turn a lot of heads this season—and possibly get another bowl bid. Following a loss to Georgia in the TaxSlayer Bowl in 2015, third-year head coach James Franklin will certainly have some expectations on his shoulders. The team retains a core group of key players from last year’s campaign, and has the building blocks to repair the glaring weak spots that limited the Lions in that ultimately disappointing result.
Offense: Former Fordham head coach Joe Moorhead gets his work cut out for him as OC with Penn State, taking over a program that was outside the top 100 in yards, rushing and scoring a year ago. The glaring weakness here was with the offensive line, who didn’t help (the now-departed) Christian Hackenberg with much time in the pocket. The good news is that the team retains offensive playmakers like Saquon Barkley (1,076 rush yards), Chris Godwin (1,101 receiving yards) and DaeSean Hamilton (six TDs in 2015). It remains to be seen whether or not that line can put new QB Trace McSorley in a position to succeed, however.
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Defense: On the defensive side of the ball, the Nittany Lions were exceptional considering what the offense gave them most games. The squad will have to replace big-name departures Carl Nassib, Austin Johnson and Anthony Zettel up front (Nassib alone posted 15.5 sacks), but does have a nice group of LBs led by the athletic Jason Cabinda. Safety Marcus Allen will provide some normalcy in the secondary, and this year’s crop of corners is good enough to keep up with most everything the Big Ten will throw their way.
Special Teams: Slotting into Penn State’s kicking shoes are a pair of juniors in punter Daniel Pasquariello and kicker Tyler Davis. DeAndre Thompkins figures to serve as the team’s punt returner, and Koa Farmer should be handling the kick-returning duties in 2016.
Outlook: Believe it or not, Penn State has a favorable enough schedule to flirt with double-digit victories this season. The framework is in place to repeat as bowl game participants, and this time a mid-level bid—and possibly a victory in the final game—is within reach for the Nittany Lions.
September 3 vs. KENT STATE GOLDEN FLASHES University Park PA (Beaver Stadium)
September 10 @ PITTSBURGH PANTHERS Pittsburgh PA (Heinz Field)
September 17 vs. TEMPLE OWLS University Park PA (Beaver Stadium)
September 24 @ MICHIGAN WOLVERINES Ann Arbor MI (Michigan Stadium)
October 1 vs. MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS University Park PA (Beaver Stadium)
October 8 vs. MARYLAND TERRAPINS University Park PA (Beaver Stadium)
October 22 vs. OHIO STATE BUCKEYES University Park PA (Beaver Stadium)
October 29 @ PURDUE BOILERMAKERS West Laffayette, IN (Ross-Ade Stadium)
November 5 vs. IOWA HAWKEYES University Park PA (Beaver Stadium)
November 12 @ INDIANA HOOSIERS Bloomington IN (Memorial Stadium)
November 19 @ RUTGERS SCARLET KNIGHTS Piscataway, NJ (High Point Solutions Stadium)
November 26 vs. MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS University Park PA (Beaver Stadium)