The title of this post may have thrown you off a little bit but you certainly read it correctly. I realize you most likely think this is a crazier prediction than it is a bold one. All I request is that you hear me out. My goal is to have you understand and hopefully realize that this is not as far-fetched as it may seem to be.
It’s Trace McSorley’s Time to Shine
First and foremost, Heisman candidate Trace McSorley will be leading the Nittany Lions into battle for yet another season. McSorley has improved and grown into one of the nation’s top quarterbacks and possesses experience that not many current QB’s have. Sure, he may have had the luxury of Barkley the past couple of years but don’t let that fool you into thinking he can’t succeed without him. McSorley has proven time and time again that he can hold his own and make big plays when needed. In 2017, he nearly had a 70% completion percentage while tossing 28 TDs with just 10 interceptions. Also, his ability to scramble and be a running threat is vastly underrated and should not be overlooked. Overall, with Barkley gone, Trace McSorley is now the one in the spotlight and has the weight of the team on his shoulders. Quite honestly, that’s a role I believe he’ll be more than happy to fill.
Play Ohio State, Michigan State & Wisconsin in Happy Valley
Penn State has one of the biggest and best home-field advantages in the country. Although the times have yet to be announced for these games, I’m willing to bet at least two of them will end up being night games. Can you say “WHITE OUT”? I don’t care how good you are, if you are the opposing team going into a whiteout night game in Happy Valley, I’m picking the Nittany Lions. Obviously, this doesn’t guarantee victories against all three of these conference powerhouses but it sure helps their chances drastically.
Only ONE Difficult Road Game
I realize that this is college football and upsets happen all the time when top teams hit the road in conference play but I just don’t see it happening to Penn State this year. PSU’s road games are Pittsburgh, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. The first three will be easy W’s but that last one down in Ann Arbor is the game PSU faithful and I are worried about most. As a matter of fact, that’s the one loss I predicted Penn State will receive this season but that’s beside the point. The fact of the matter is, PSU has just one true road test in 2018 and this alone could help eliminate a loss from the recent two-loss season trend.
The Running Game Will Remain Successful
The torch from Saquon Barkley has officially been handed down to Miles Sanders. Don’t go around thinking he’s the next Barkley because he’s not but, Sanders and the two other freshman backs behind him, Journey Brown and Ricky Slade could form a rather solid running back tandem. Of course, Sanders will still carry high expectations but all three will most likely get their fair share of touches this year and that will create a good amount of experience for the young backs. While defenses focus their game plan for Trace McSorley, I have no doubt that James Franklin and new offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne will have some things in store for Sanders and company. It may not be as pretty but having three solid running backs could be just as successful as having one superstar.
John Reid’s Return Will Spark The Defense
The departures of star Safeties Troy Apke and Marcus Allen created some big holes to fill in Penn States secondary. Cornerback John Reid will help make that process of filling said holes much less stressful. Sometimes it seems like people completely forget about this guy and I don’t understand how or why. Entering his junior year, he was expected to be a top defensive pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. That was until he suffered a season-ending injury at the teams 2017 spring practice. Here we are a year later, John Reid is expected to be at 100% by the season opener if he’s not already. I’m fairly certain Reid will return to being one of the nations best DB’s and I believe he’ll help bring a spark to a defense that is being heavily overlooked.
In the last two seasons, Penn State has seen themselves come painfully close to making the College Football Playoff only to just miss the cut. From heartbreaking losses to being placed one spot out of the final four, this team quite literally couldn’t have been closer. In 2018, I believe that fate could finally change. Competing in the nations toughest conference, it certainly won’t be an easy task. I’m most definitely rooting for them to make the playoff this year, as I have been the previous few seasons. 2018 could be a special year in Happy Valley.
– Collin Borron
Photo Credit HERE