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Smeltzer: Predicting Every 2022 Penn State Football Game

There is one sleep left until the 2022 Penn State football season begins.

The first game is at Purdue Thursday night at 8, and I’ve predicted what will happen in that game and Penn State’s other 11. Let’s get into it.

WEEK 1: PENN STATE AT PURDUE, SEPT. 1, 2022

For the 12th time in 13 seasons, Penn State is starting its Big Ten season on the road, and for the third straight year, the Big Ten opener is also the season opener. 

For the third straight year, the team won’t be hosting a cupcake at Beaver Stadium to open the year. Instead, the team will start the 2022 season on a Thursday night in West Lafayette, Indiana, against a promising Purdue football program. Purdue went 9-4 in 2021 and has some key players coming back, led by sixth-year senior quarterback Aiden O’Connell. The Boilers will undoubtedly be pumped up playing under the lights at home against a big-time program.

It won’t be an easy opener, but Penn State should have some advantages over Purdue. Although Penn State’s roster is young in some areas, it should be experienced enough to where Week 1 rust won’t bite them as much as it would a less experienced group.

The guy who was supposed to be Purdue’s top returning receiver, Milton Wright, is no longer with the team, which means O’Connell won’t have either of his top two weapons from 2021, as Biletnikoff finalist David Bell is now in the NFL. 

Maybe Purdue will account for Wright’s absence at some point in 2022, but I have doubts that it happens right away (or Wright away, hehe.) In an even matchup such as this— Penn State is favored by a field goal. One  player being gone could be huge.

PREDICTION: WIN (1-0)

WEEK 2: PENN STATE VS. OHIO, SEPT. 10, 2022

We won’t see a repeat of 2012 when Ohio upset Penn State in Week 1 at Beaver Stadium.

PREDICTION: WIN (2-0)

WEEK 3: PENN STATE AT AUBURN, SEPT. 17, 2022

Auburn football has had a brutal offseason, and head coach Brian Harsin has been made fun of by many people for going 6-7 last season and for non-football reasons. 

Still, Auburn might be good enough and certainly is nationally prominent enough for this to be a big win.

But it’s not likely that Auburn will be one of the best teams in the SEC, so a loss there would cause a lot of people to rip James Franklin.

I’d love Penn State’s chances if this game were at Beaver Stadium. But with it being on the road in a hostile environment and Auburn looking to avenge last year’s loss in Happy Valley, I’ll take the Tigers in a close one. 

PREDICTION: LOSS (2-1)

WEEK 4: PENN STATE VS. CENTRAL MICHIGAN, SEPT. 24, 2022

Win.

PREDICTION: WIN (3-1)

WEEK 5: PENN STATE VS. NORTHWESTERN, OCT. 1, 2022

Northwestern beat Nebraska, but everybody beats Nebraska.

Pat Fitzgerald’s squad should still be one of the worse in the Big Ten, and on paper, this is the easiest conference game.

I’m curious that Penn State didn’t pick this for its Homecoming contest.

PREDICTION: WIN (4-1)

WEEK 6: BYE

WEEK 7: PSU AT MICHIGAN, OCT. 15, 2022

James Franklin usually doesn’t win in Ann Arbor.

In four trips, Franklin is 1-3, with the one win coming in an empty stadium during the 2020 season. Now, the fans are back, and although Michigan might not be as good as it was when it won the Big Ten championship this past season, Jim Harbaugh’s squad is still promising enough to be ranked No. 8 in the AP Poll, whereas Penn State is unranked. 

On paper, Michigan is better, and Penn State’s history in Ann Arbor since joining the Big Ten doesn’t help.

PREDICTION: LOSS (4-2)

WEEK 8: PSU VS. MINNESOTA, OCT. 22, 2022

Penn State’s annual white out game is intriguing.

Minnesota could win the Big Ten West with sixth-year quarterback Tanner Morgan back and offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca— who ran Penn State’s offense in 2020— now on his second stint with the Gophers. 

Both Morgan and Ciarrocca helped beat James Franklin in 2019 at home. Can they do the same in Beaver Stadium? I think they could, but I’m not confident that they will.

PREDICTION: WIN (5-2)

WEEK 9: PENN STATE VS. OHIO STATE, OCT. 29, 2022

Ohio State is a national championship contender, and its offense might be the best.

To me, Penn State playing Ohio State in late October instead of late September— which was initially the plan— hurts it. By Halloween, quarterback CJ Stroud and company will likely be in top form, and that’s bad news for Penn State.
Penn State has hung with Ohio State in seven of the eight meetings the teams have had since Franklin came to Happy Valley, and I expect a close game this year.

But Ohio State is just too good.

PREDICTION: LOSS (5-3)

WEEK 10: PENN STATE AT INDIANA, NOV. 5, 2022

If the team comes into Bloomington 5-3, it will need a win in Indiana to save the fanbase from egging James Franklin’s house. 

Although Indiana should be slightly better than its 2-10 effort last season, this should be a win. 

PREDICTION: WIN (6-3)

WEEK 11: PENN STATE VS. MARYLAND, NOV. 12, 2022

Coach Mike Locksley has done a reasonably good job in his three seasons in College Park, with last season’s 7-6 campaign being a step forward.

Although the Terps have progressed since Locksley’s first season, where they went 3-9 in 2019, I don’t see this Maryland team being able to walk into Beaver Stadium and get a win. Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa is good, and Maryland’s receiving duo of Dante Demus and Rakim Jarrett could be one of the best in the country. 

But Aside from that, the Terps don’t impress me enough to be considered a threat.

PREDICTION: WIN (7-3)

WEEK 12: PENN STATE AT RUTGERS, NOV. 19, 2022

Win

PREDICTION: WIN (8-3)

WEEK 13: PENN STATE VS. MICHIGAN STATE, NOV. 26, 2022

Michigan State football is a crapshoot.

The Spartans had a nasty campaign in 2020 and went 11-2 last season.

So what will we see in 2022? I don’t know yet, and I surely don’t know what things will look like come late November. For now, I’ll go with my hunch, which tells me that Franklin and company will take back the Land Grant Trophy.

PREDICTION: WIN (9-3)

So there you have it.  I see Penn State finishing 9-3 with losses to Auburn, Ohio State and Michigan.

Fans, how would you feel about a 9-3 season?

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