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Jeff Byers: Procrastinating Prognosticator Finally Chimes in on 2012

by on December 26, 2012 9:00 AM

The procrastinating prognosticator would like to weigh in on what I expect in 2012. This is a column I’ve been meaning to write for nearly a year now. I’ve had a lot of thoughts on what to expect in what is sure to be an exciting year for the region.

First of all, I know it sounds ridiculous, but I have this sinking feeling that the NCAA is going to come down hard on Penn State. But at least we know that the organization will be thorough in its investigation before making any decisions on possible sanctions.

This probably sounds crazy to you, but I actually think this football team can have some success under Bill O’Brien. And yes, I think Bill O’Brien will be the next head coach at Penn State. Some of you probably don’t even know who he is, but I just think he has the right traits to guide this program through some stormy waters.

I worry that the first couple of games will be a challenge, as Penn State has a new kicker who needs to gain confidence and a team that still needs to come together. Keep your eye out for a kid many of you probably haven’t heard of, but Zach Zwinak looks to me like a kid that could contribute. I also think Matt McGloin is going to thoroughly enjoy proving his critics wrong and will have one heck of a season. I just hope the officials don’t make things more challenging than they should be.

My other breakout player to watch for this season is Allen Robinson. This kid has been under the radar so far, but I see some real potential for him to become a great receiver. And I just have a feeling that No. 42 is going to be remembered for a long time for his contributions to the program. You can mark that one down. I’m going out on a limb here, but I’m calling 8-4 for the season record.

It is an easy to call for a big season from the Penn State wrestling team since it is the returning national champion. And truthfully, I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to call David Taylor as the Hodge Trophy winner - the kid was so dominant as a freshman last year. And it’s not a real reach to predict that there could be three undefeated wrestlers on this team - Frank Molinaro and Ed Ruth are both pretty doggone good after all. But I think this Nico Megaludis is improving and could be right in the mix for a national title at the end of the year. I know, probably looking through my blue and white glasses, but I think this kid could pull some upsets by the end of the year. Now I’m not saying he’ll knock off Zach Sanders or anything, but I think he can do some good things at the national tournament. I also like the way Dylan Alton is wrestling and believe he could be a factor at 157 by season’s end as well. I look for him to finish in the top three.

I have a good feeling about the Penn State fall sports teams, mostly because of what I think is some excellent coaching - some of the best in the Big Ten, really. I think the offensive firepower of the women’s soccer team in particular may elevate that team when the NCAA tournament rolls around. Only time will tell.

The women’s volleyball team figures to be back in the mix for a national title as well, but the senior experience of Oregon and Texas likely means Penn State will have to stay injury-free at the end of the season to win it all.

As for my Steelers, I worry about their consistency going into the 2012 season. While I think they are capable of beating the likes of the Ravens and Giants, even on the road, I worry that this is a team that also can lose to the likes of the Raiders and Browns.

I worry that new offensive coordinator Todd Haley and Ben Roethlisberger might not mesh, but as long as Big Ben doesn’t get injured, I think they’ll be all right. Otherwise, it might be tough for the Steelers to get to .500 for the season.

Now, you never know how things will go with your predictions, so we’ll just have to see how things play out, but I have been uncanny in recent years with my accuracy. As for the 2013 calendar year, well you won’t believe the things I’m predicting. I’ll share that list with you just as soon as I can get around to it.

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Jeff Byers has been the wrestling team’s traveling announcer since 1990.
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