Harvey Levine/FOS

FOS Fearless Forecast: Penn State Season Picks

Our staff and a few insiders let you know what to expect from the Nittany Lion football team this fall.

Nirav Dalal (PlaybookNirav)

COMMENT: The offense will be better this year, but I don't think it's going to be a significant enough improvement to beat some of the competition on the schedule. If the quarterback situation turns out to be worse than expected in the state of Michigan, then the Lions can really compete for the East title. But I don't think that will be the case.


Scott Cole (PSU96)

COMMENT: I have had to temper my expectations after hearing and reading so many positive things about the offense during the offseason. There are bound to be hiccups along the way, and the defensive line is a big question mark, as well. I believe by the end of the season, however, that this team will serve notice that it's going to be a major player starting in 2017.



COMMENT: I believe this team takes a small step forward this year. Why? Offensive talent. Simply put, PSU has a superstar RB and a very talented WR corps that are capable of performing against the very best defenses in the B1G. A strong back seven on defense will provide some welcome relief for the newly constructed DL. Lastly, an expected upgrade in all phases of special teams gets my prediction to nine wins.


Mark Harrington (PlaybookMark)

COMMENT: While there's veteran talent across the team, PSU also (once again) has a lot of fresh faces the coaches will look to to contribute this season. That young talent may take some time to acclimate, but should add a spark on both sides of the ball once they get comfortable.


Rob Riva (rriva)

COMMENT: Penn State's offense will take two giant steps forward in 2016, but the defense will take a step back as the season goes on and depth is tested, particularly at linebacker. The record will not be indicative of the improvement and positive trajectory the Nittany Lions will have heading into 2017.


Keith "Goon" Conlin (KeithConlin)

COMMENT: I never like to pick any losses for the boys, but think this year the other B1G East powers — Michigan, OSU and MSU — will be too tough to handle. Other than that, Joe Moorhead's offense will keep folks guessing and will score a lot of point. And yes, I'm picking an "upset" over Pitt. The future is bright. With a break or two this year, maybe we can even see 11-2.


Tom Hoffman (underscoreTom)

COMMENT: This offense should be fun to watch for the first time in several years, despite ongoing question marks on the offensive line.  Defensively, health will be the key as the LB corp is among the best in the Big Ten but quite shallow.  An experienced secondary will need to help get the green defensive line up to speed.  This squad has the potential to be one of the national surprises of 2016.


Scott Neal (PSUMtnBike)

COMMENT: Penn State finally fields enough talent to be competitive with much of its schedule.  Three to five losses appears realistic, with youthful growing pains and questions along the line of scrimmage.


Tom McLaughlin (WeRPSUPlaybook)

COMMENT: Just too many unknowns for this year's team, beginning at quarterback. Many of James Franklin's recruits will be working their way into the lineup this year, and the eventual success of this team will be determined by how well they fit into his system and how his system at full strength fares against conference opponents. The Lions have struggled against the Big Ten of late. Five conference home games could help keep the momentum positive.


Mark Brennan (MarkBrennan)

COMMENT: I see very good things on the horizon. But even now that PSU is back to 80-plus scholarships, the fact that two-thirds of those players have freshman or sophomore eligibility means you're going to see some more growing pain. The Nittany Lions hold steady in 2016 before things begin to take off in 2017.



COMMENT: McSorely proves he has the "it" factor and plays with a huge chip on his shoulder. He has weapons — the top RB in the country in Barkley, who runs wild in the new offense. Godwin is a stud, Blacknall proves his mettle, and Hamilton and the other WRs are very good. Gesicki has a great year and the RB depth is strong. O-line is surprisingly better than expected under Limegrover. D-line is a surprise, Givens is a future All-American and the back seven are as good as we have had in years. Reid, Haley and Campbell give us three great cover corners. Special teams make a huge difference and win us the two additional games they cost us each of the past two years. This season sets the table for a B1G title and playoff run in '17. Enjoy the ride!


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