Jim Ferry is the interim coach after Patrick Chambers’ resignation last month. Lamar Stevens and Mike Watkins are gone. And Penn State was picked to finish 12th out of 14 teams in Big Ten.
There is talent returning on the roster, including Myreon Jones, Myles Dread, Izaiah Brockington, Seth Lundy and Jamari Wheeler. It also will be interesting to see what Binghamton transfer Sam Sessoms, a proven scorer, can do with this team.
Can the Nittany Lions surprise everyone and be a middle-of-the-pack team in the Big Ten? Or will this be a trying year that sees the team struggle with adversity and depth?
Will Penn State even be able to play all of its games, or will some or a lot of the games be canceled due to the coronavirus?
Let’s assume all of the games are played. Here’s my pick for each game, giving Penn State a record of 8-17 overall and 6-14 in the Big Ten. While that prediction would indicate a really bad team, I can see the Lions being very competitive in a lot of games, but coming up short against the tremendous competition in the Big Ten.
Nov. 25 vs Drexel: W (This will be a tougher game than many expect, with the Dragons picked to finish third in the Colonial Athletic Association. One note, though: If PSU wins, it would give the basketball team one victory, while the football team still has none. It would mark the first time ever that PSU basketball will win a game in a season before the football team.)
Nov. 28 vs. VMI: W (Blowout over team coached by PSU product Dan Earl)
Dec. 2 vs. VCU: L (Lions could have decent chance against VCU team picked 9th in Atlantic 10)
Dec. 6 vs. Seton Hall: L (Myles Powell is gone, but Hall still should be good, picked to finish 5th in Big East)
Dec. 8 at Virginia Tech: L (Hokies picked 11th in ACC, but still tough to win there)
After this it’s on to the Big Ten, which is loaded this year. So everyone knows, this is the predicted order of finish from the league media poll)
4: Michigan State
7: Ohio State
12: Penn State
So, here’s how I see the league games playing out. As always, finding wins in this league is tough.
Dec. 13 at Michigan: L
Dec. 23 vs. Illinois: L
Dec. 30 at Indiana: L
Jan. 3 vs. Wisconsin: L
Jan. 6 at Ohio State: L
Jan. 9 vs. Michigan: W (Home game, with the Lions maybe starting to figure things out and playing better)
Jan. 12 vs. Rutgers: L
Jan. 17 at Purdue: L
Jan. 20 at Illinois: L
Jan. 23 vs. Northwestern: W (Wildcats are really down this year, so this really has to be a must-win game for PSU)
Jan. 30 at Nebraska: W (Huskers also are down, and this is always a tough place to play, but I’ll take flyer here with Lions)
Feb. 2 at Wisconsin: L
Feb. 5 vs. Maryland: L (Terps are picked 10th in league, but I think they’ll be better)
Feb. 9 at Michigan State: L
Feb. 14 vs. Nebraska: W
Feb. 18 vs. Ohio State: W (Lookie, lookie, taking a chance on this one)
Feb. 21 at Iowa: L (Luka Garza got robbed last year for national player of the year. I’m a Wooden Award voter, and I voted for Garza over Obi Toppin because Garza played better competition and put up better stats)
Feb. 26 vs. Purdue: L
March 3 vs. Minnesota: W
March 7 at Maryland: L