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Where experts rank Penn State in their way-too-early Top 25 projections

The college football season reaches its pinnacle tonight, with Michigan and Washington facing off in the CFP National Championship game. However, it is never too early to look at the 2024 season, especially when predicting what the Top 25 will look like this August.

Penn State ended its 2023 season on a sour note, losing to Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl. With several players off to the NFL and two new coordinators now in the fold, it will be an exciting offseason to watch from a fan’s perspective. Some interesting pieces have come in through the transfer Portal, including Julian Fleming and Nolan Rucci. Can they be difference-makers? Only time will tell.

The Nittany Lions opened up this past season as the nation’s seventh-ranked team. If I had to guess, that would be the ceiling for a preseason Top-25 ranking, the more likely spot being between 10 and 12. Let’s see where some college football experts rank Penn State in their way-too-early Top 25 projections.

Brett McMurphy, Action Network

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Ranking: 11th

McMurphy from the Action Network gets us started with a realistic and fair ranking of the Nittany Lions heading into next season. His rankings put Penn State as the fourth-highest Big Ten behind Michigan, Oregon, and Ohio State.

Joel Reuter, Bleacher Report

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Ranking: 11th

There is definitely a theme with most of the way-too-early projections: the number 11. Many experts, including Joel Reuter from Bleacher Report, seem to think the Nittany Lions fit right into the spot right outside the top 10.

Bill Bender, Sporting News

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Ranking: 15th

From Sporting News, Bender is our first expert to veer away from ranking the Nittany Lions at the eleventh position. He puts the Nittany Lions in the 15th spot of his way-too-early Top 25 rankings. He wonders whether James Franklin and the Nittany Lions can win the big game against better opponents. Once again, Penn State is behind Michigan, Ohio State, and Oregon, but Bender also slots in the Washington Huskies at number nine ahead of Penn State.

Brad Crawford, 247Sports

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Ranking: 11th

247 Sports, Brad Crawford also ranks the Nittany Lions eleventh. It sure seems that experts aren’t too confident in Penn State to win that big game. Until they do, experts seem reluctant to put the Nittany Lions ahead of their Big Ten rivals.

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Paul Myerberg and Erick Smith, USA TODAY

Nov 24, 2023; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions defensive end Adisa Isaac (20) pressures and sacks Michigan State Spartans quarterback Katin Houser (12) during the second half at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 24, 2023; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions defensive end Adisa Isaac (20) pressures and sacks Michigan State Spartans quarterback Katin Houser (12) during the second half at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

Ranking: 15th

Paul Myerberg and Erick Smith from USA TODAY view Penn State as a team with Big Ten champion potential and one that could seemingly lose to Ohio State, Washington, and USC. It is very unlikely that Penn State will lose all three of those games, but another projection seems to want to see the team on the field before ranking ahead of other top title contenders.

Mark Schlabach, ESPN

Dec 30, 2023; Atlanta, GA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions running back Kaytron Allen (13) runs the ball against the Mississippi Rebels in the first quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 30, 2023; Atlanta, GA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions running back Kaytron Allen (13) runs the ball against the Mississippi Rebels in the first quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Ranking: 12th

In the sweet spot of just outside the top-10 once again, this time from ESPN’s Mark Schlabach. Although giving them a fair ranking of 12th, Schlabach does rank Oregon (3rd), Ohio State (5th), Michigan (6th), and Washington (11th) ahead of Penn State. Most experts agree Oregon, Michigan, and Ohio State deserve a better ranking than Penn State. The Huskies, however, have the same, if not more, unknown pieces going into next year, so putting the Nittany Lions behind them is a bit confusing.

Story originally appeared on Nittany Lions Wire