The 2022 Penn State season looks as though it could be one leaving a bit of a chip on the shoulders of the Nittany Lions. After two mediocre seasons in 2020 and 2021, the Nittany Lions have something to prove to the pundits, at least to Pro Football Focus.
PFF released a way-too-early top 25 preseason ranking by Antony Treash on Monday, and Penn State was nowhere to be found. To be fair, a program coming off two consecutive seasons floating a .500 record should have something to prove, so being excluded from a preseason top 25 ranking of any sort is justifiable.
That said, Treash had some interesting decisions to raise a few eyebrows in his top 25 ranking. Nobody will fault any analyst for placing Alabama at the top, as Treash did, nor will anyone quibble much over having Ohio State at No. 2 or Georgia at No. 3, as they each appear on Treash’s ranking.
Treash is anticipating a solid rebound season from Clemson, whom he ranks No. 4, just ahead of defending Big Ten champion Michigan (No. 5). The hype for USC under new head coach Lincoln Riley appears to be taking off, as Treash ranked the Trojans at No. 6 after going just 4-8 last season (9-9 over the past two seasons).
Wake Forest also makes an appearance in the top 10, at No. 10, after a successful 2021 season. We’ll see if the Demon Deacons were a flash in the pan or if they are legitimately a solid team again in 2022, but top 10 does seem somewhat optimistic for the program.
Other teams making the cut include Pitt at No. 13, Texas at No. 14, South Carolina at No. 15, and Miami at No. 16. Pitt is coming off an ACC title run but the Longhorns (5-7), Gamecocks (7-6), and Hurricanes (7-5) aren’t coming off much better seasons than Penn State is from last season.
Penn State didn’t even appear in the “Just missed the cut” section, which included LSU coming off a 6-7 season last year.
We’ll see what other preseason rankings go on to show, but in the eyes of this PFF analyst, Penn State has a lot of ground to make up in 2022.
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