Penn State didn’t make the top 25 in either the AP or USA Today preseason rankings, but a less conventional poll is a little more kind to coach James Franklin’s team.
In ESPN’s final SP+ preseason projections, Penn State came in at No. 13.
The SP+ rankings are an unofficial system operated by ESPN Staff Writer Bill Connelly. The teams are ranked primarily based on;
- Returning production
- Recent recruiting
- Recent history
Additionally, SP+ is a “tempo and opponent-adjusted measure of college football efficiency,” Connelly writes. “It is a predictive measure of the most sustainable and predictable aspects of football, not a resume ranking, and, along those same lines, these projections aren’t intended to be a guess at what the AP Top 25 will look like at the end of the year.”
The Nittany Lions have some key performers coming back, such as sixth-year quarterback Sean Clifford and fifth-year safety Ji’Ayir Brown. The team also has some anticipated newcomers, such as Western Kentucky transfer Mitchell Tinsley, who was one of the nation’s top statistical receivers last season, and five-star Class of 2022 running back Nick Singleton.
Penn State’s ranked ahead of every Big Ten team aside from Ohio State, which came in at No. 3, and defending champion Michigan, ranked sixth. Penn State plays Michigan Oct. 15 on the road and hosts the Buckeyes Oct. 29.
Fellow Big Ten East foe Michigan State is closely behind Penn State at No. 15, and Big Ten West favorite Wisconsin is No. 17. Penn State plays Sparty at Beaver Stadium in its regular-season finale Nov. 27 and doesn’t play Wisconsin in 2022.