ESPN College Gameday analyst and play-by-play broadcaster Kirk Herbstreit praised No. 9 Penn State ahead of their Rose Bowl game against Pac-12 Champion No. 7 Utah on Monday.
“I just feel like they’re a program that’s where Michigan was prior to last year, kind of knocking on the door, but not quite getting that signature win to be able to get them into the playoff,” said Herbstreit to media members on Tuesday.
“But it doesn’t mean they’re way beyond even imagining that. They’re right there. To me, I think there’s stability. I think there’s continuity despite the losses with coordinators and players over the years.
“I feel like overall James [Franklin] has done a really good job there and I feel like they continue to recruit at a pretty consistent level to give them a chance to be that close. And as we expand to 12, it’s hard to imagine not having Penn State in the playoff as we move forward into this next era of college football.”
Obviously if the playoffs were expanded, Penn State would’ve made it this year. Furthermore had 12 teams been in place since 2014 then this year would be their fifth appearance.
It’s clear that they are “right there” like Herbstreit has said. The team has come close to making the four team playoff several times, five times to be exact, but have struggled to beat the other powerhouses in their division.
Penn State has yet to beat Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State in the same season since Franklin took over, something that may be unrealistic to ask, and has struggled most notably against Ohio State with just one win in a decade’s worth of football.
Regardless they are right there and a win over Utah, as Herbstreit said, would prove that. Once the playoff expansion comes too, we may get more evidence of where the Penn State program stands nationally.