Predicting the Second Half of Penn State's Season: A Fan's Take

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When I made my predictions for how Penn State would fare in conference play, I knew full well that things change week to week during the course of a football season. With six games to go, here's my take on how the Nittany Lions (4-2 overall, 2-0 Big Ten) will do the rest of the way:

October 20 at Iowa (4-2, 2-0):

Last Saturday's double overtime win at Michigan State may have been the highlight of the season for Iowa so far, but the Hawkeyes shouldn't get too excited. The Spartans are having a down year and have now lost three games at home. Though winning a conference game on the road is always a nice accomplishment, Iowa's other wins came against Northern Illinois, Northern Iowa, and Minnesota. Penn State will be the best opponent they've faced all year. And the Nittany Lions, despite the bye this past weekend, are coming in on a roll. Prediction: Win

October 27 vs. Ohio State (7-0, 3-0):

The Buckeyes are ranked No. 7 in the AP Top 25 Poll after they survived a scare against Indiana on Saturday. The Hoosiers are at the bottom of the conference, so Ohio State's 52-49 win wasn't all that gratifying. With Braxton Miller at quarterback, Penn State's defense, which has gotten better each week, will be put to the test. But teams have been able to score on the Buckeyes, and that's good news for Penn State's balanced offensive attack. Prediction: Loss

November 3 at Purdue (3-3, 0-2):

I originally had this one as a loss, but two games into the Big Ten schedule, Penn State is clearly better. Michigan and Wisconsin won in consecutive weeks at Purdue, with the Boilermakers allowing 771 yards on the ground in those games. They also lost those games by a margin of 82-27. Penn State's offense should have a big day, whereas Purdue's offense has struggled against quality opponents. Prediction: Win

November 10 at Nebraska (4-2, 1-1):

After beating Wisconsin in its Big Ten opener, Nebraska struggled mightily against Ohio State, allowing 63 points in a blowout loss. Nebraska had a bye this past weekend and it'll be interesting to see how they respond against Northwestern on Saturday. Right now, Penn State is playing better, but a lot could change for both teams over the next three games. Nebraska is still a quality team, and at home they're going to be tough to beat. Prediction: Loss

November 17 vs. Indiana (2-4, 0-3): This one has blowout written all over it. Sure they played Ohio State tough, but the Hoosiers haven't won a conference game since 2010 and their defense has given up 40 or more points three times this year. Indiana plays Navy this week and then Illinois after that, so they may actually get a conference win. But don't be fooled. While we haven't been able to say this too often this year, the Nittany Lions will be heavy favorites. And for good reason. Prediction: Win

November 24 vs. Wisconsin (5-2, 2-1): Penn State will be tested by Wisconsin's running game, which amassed 467 yards in Saturday's win at Purdue. Montee Ball ran for 247 of those yards, including three touchdowns, and is clearly one of the best offensive players the Nittany Lions will face all year. The Badgers will play Ohio State the week before they come to Happy Valley, and with Ohio State and Penn State ineligible for postseason play, they should represent the Leaders Division in the Big Ten title game. It still doesn't change the fact that, right now at least, Penn State is a more complete football team. Prediction: Win

Final Record: 8-4 overall, 6-2 Big Ten

Charles Costello is a lifelong fan of the Penn State Nittany Lions.

Sources:

ESPN.com

Big Ten Conference
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