There are only 99 days until Penn State football kicks off the 2023 season under the lights against West Virginia.
Here are early predictions for all 12 games.
These are broken down into three categories.
- The no-brainers: Games Penn State has little-to-no chance of losing
- The should-be wins: Games that could give Penn State trouble, but that it should survive
- The tossups: Games that are tossups
Let’s get into it.
PENN STATE FOOTBALL 2023: THE NO-BRAINERS
There’s a chance West Virginia is one of the worst Power Five teams in the country this season. The teams over/under is 4.5, and WVU only won five games last season. The combination of PSU still being in early-season form as well as the whacky stuff that’s known to happen in Week 1 might make this closer than some think, but I don’t think there’s anything for Penn State fans to worry about.
On3 from the top rope on WVU https://t.co/Iqwt67z53X
— Logan Carney (@Media_Carnival) May 26, 2023
Sept. 9 vs. Delaware
Lol. Moving on.
Sept. 30 at Northwestern
There’s a good chance this game is played at noon ET, which would be 11 a.m. central time. If that happens, Penn State won’t have an advantage in that regard, especially since the prior week’s White Out against Iowa will be an emotional night one way or the other. I could see Northwestern giving Penn State a close game— hell, Penn State only won by 10 last year at home— but at the same time, Northwestern went 1-11 in 2022. A valiant fight is probably all coach Pat Fitzgerald and company can realistically hope for.
Oct. 14 vs. UMass
Oct. 28 vs. Indiana
Indiana went 4-8 last season and lost to Penn State 45-14 at home. Yes, every year is different, but aside from the whacky, pandemic-themed 2020 season (my apologies for making Penn State fans think of Michael Penix), Indiana hasn’t done much in the Tom Allen era, or any other era, for that matter. Penn State will take on Indiana a week after playing Ohio State in Columbus, which means either:
A. Penn State will be coming off a win at Ohio State, which will probably mean the team is really good
B. PSU will be coming off a loss at Ohio State, which will mean the team is really pissed.
Indiana’s never won in Beaver Stadium, and I don’t think it starts this year.
Nov. 18 vs. Rutgers
Look at the scores of the PSU-Rutgers games since Rutgers joined the Big Ten before the 2014 season. In the words of Forest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that.”
THE “SHOULD-BE WINS”
Sept. 16: at. Illinois
It’s on the road in a hostile environment, and Illinois did go 8-5 last year. We all remember what happened the last time PSU played Illinois, and that was in Happy Valley. This one in Champaign could be a close one, but if PSU is as good as advertised, it won’t lose its Big Ten opener.
But there’s always the chance that Penn State isn’t as good as advertised.
Iowa went 8-5 last year with an offense that was garbage. If Michigan transfer QB Cade McNamara can help prop up the platoon enough to where the offense can be something close to average, and Iowa’s defense continues to be solid, don’t be surprised if the White Out is too close for comfort.
But this will be a defense run by Manny Diaz going against an offense run by Brian Ferentz. Gee, who has the edge there?
Nov. 4: At Maryland
Taulia Tagovailoa has been Maryland’s QB for what feels like 40 years. All jokes aside, Tagovailoa has played against Penn State three times and done quite well in two of those games. In 2020, he diced Penn State in a Terp blowout at Beaver Stadium. In 2021, Penn State had to fight until almost the end for a 31-14 win that wasn’t as close as the score showed in College Park. Last season, Tagovailoa’s offense line gave him no chance, and PSU won a 30-0 laugher that could have been much worse. Maryland always seems to have solid receivers around Tagovailoa, and environment-wise, this will be Maryland’s Super Bowl (its fans really, really don’t like Penn State). But unless Maryland’s found an offensive line, Penn State should win this one.
If this game were in East Lansing, it might be in the “toss-up” category. Michigan State was good in 2021 and bad in 2022, so if the trend continues under Mel Tucker, Sparty will be strong in 2023.
But because the game will be indoors in a stadium that, although far closer to East Lansing than State College, isn’t in East Lansing and will compel PSU fans to travel more since they won’t have to be in the cold, Penn State’s chances should improve, albeit not to the point where it’s a lock.
Oct. 21: at. Ohio State
James Franklin’s never won in Columbus. It’s too early to do an X’s and O’s breakdown, so there’s not much we can do for toss-up games like this except go with our gut. Based on gut, its hard to go against the team that’s 10-1 against Penn State in its last 11 meetings.
Prediction: Close loss
Nov. 11: vs. Michigan
I can’t envision back-to-back years where PSU wins every game except for the ones against Ohio State and Michigan. That would be cruel to Nittany Nation. So of the two games, I think the one in Happy Valley is the better bet, and for now, I like Franklin over Jim Harbaugh.
Prediction: Close win
Final record: 11-1, Big Ten East Champs