Penn State Football 2013 Schedule Analysis
In the wake of a scandal that exposed corruption and brought embarrassment to the esteemed Pennsylvania State University, the Nittany Lions football team is anxious to turn the page and continue their tradition of success. Unfortunately for the players on the 2013 squad, the team is still on probation and are ineligible to play in a bowl. Nonetheless, this is a talented and hungry group that is expected to compete on a very high level in a deeply talented Big Ten Conference, and millions of passionate fans of the team are sure to be watching while decked out in their favorite Penn State sweatshirt or jacket. Here’s a breakdown of the upcoming season.
The Syracuse Orangemen lost their starting quarterback to the NFL Draft, but they have established themselves as a consistently formidable team out East, and they will be the Nittany Lions first opponent on Saturday, August 31. The game will be played at the newly-minted MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, and Syracuse fans are known for coming out in droves to support their team. Simply put, this will be a very challenging first game, and likely the toughest test out of the first five games of the season.
Penn State plays a relatively soft out of conference schedule this year, including winnable games against Eastern Michigan, University of Central Florida, and Kent State. The team will have an open date on Saturday, September 28, allowing them up brief break to prepare for a very challenging conference schedule stacked with teams who are likely to be in the top 25.
Penn State will begin the tough plow through the Big Ten with a road game at Indiana against the rebuilding Hoosiers and a very important rivalry game against the Michigan Wolverines in University Park on Saturday, October 12. Beaver Stadium is always a difficult environment for teams to play in, and this matchup has been declared an official “white out” game. This means that every fan in attendance will be asked to wear a white Penn State T-shirt or sweatshirt, creating an unspoken sense of unity and an impressive visual display that will be broadcast on national television. Expect this game to be a low-scoring battle that is won in the trenches and ultimately decided by a turnover late in the game.
After another open date, Penn State faces what could be its toughest matchup of the year against the Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. Head coach Urban Meyer has put Ohio State on a direct path to the top since his arrival last year, and the Nittany Lions are likely to go into this game as heavy underdogs. Games in the following weeks against Illinois, Minnesota and Purdue could result in anything from three consecutive victories to three consecutive losses, and how this Penn State team performs in the big games against Michigan and Ohio State will go a long way toward forming their identity.
Penn State will not be invited to a bowl game no matter what happens, so coaches and players just might treat the final two games of the regular season as their own personal bowl battles. The Nebraska Cornhuskers will come to town in late November for a showdown that could unfold underneath gentle snowflakes, and the Nittany Lions will touch down in the heart of Wisconsin a handful of days after that to prepare for a showdown against the Wisconsin Badgers.
There are a lot of tough games on this slate, but if stud running back Zach Zwinak is able to churn out another 1,000 yard season while adding to his total of six rushing TDs in 2012, this Nittany Lions team should finish well above the .500 mark.