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Ranking All 12 Games On The Schedule For Penn State Football This Year

by on July 10, 2017 9:50 AM

Losing is part of the game. The Top 25 at the start of the year rarely looks the same at the end of the year. Teams are simply too good across the board and amazing happens each and every week. A loss, it is almost certainly part of each and every team's season. That doesn't mean your favorite team is bad, it just means it's human.

The hard part isn't predicting that a loss will probably happen, the hard part is predicting when it will.

It's entirely possible Penn State goes undefeated next season, although unlikely, but that doesn't mean the games won't be hard. And so here are the Nittany Lions' games ranked hardest to easiest.

1. Ohio State

This is kind of self explanatory. Until something changes Ohio State is the team to beat in the Big Ten and until something else changes, playing in Columbus is never going to be easy. If anything helps Penn State with this one it's the fact the game won't be kicking off at night, but that just makes it a lighter shade of unpleasant.

2. Iowa

Speaking of teams that got thrashed by Penn State last season, the Hawkeyes are almost certainly looking for some revenge this time around and given the history ranked Penn State teams have in Iowa City this game shouldn't be overlooked. If the Nittany Lions can roll through Iowa and pick up a win that will tell everyone something about this team. Until they do though, this game, which will almost certainly involve a hostile crowd and an eager opponent, is the biggest early test on the schedule.

3. Michigan State

The Spartans got pretty well thumped by Penn State last season and whatever happens this year is unlikely to be as simple. This game ranks so high up the scale because it comes after Ohio State. A win against the Buckeyes and it's an emotional game, Penn State potentially picking up its first loss against Ohio State and it's an emotional game. In fairness James Franklin and his staff, not to mention his players, have done a good job hitting the reset button each week, but this trip won't be easy and comes a bad time on the schedule. This is less about Michigan State and more about where it falls on the schedule.

4. Northwestern

Similar to Iowa playing at Northwestern has always been a bit odd for Penn State. An early kick coupled with the bye week and Michigan not far down the road sets this up as a trap game. If nothing else every team is going to give Penn State its best shot for as long as the Nittany Lions are highly ranked, and playing on the road does little to ease that pressure.

5. Michigan

You could argue that this game should be higher on the list given last year's outcome, but if you considered Penn State will have a juiced crowd, plenty of motivation and potentially an undefeated record on the line there is more working in the Nittany Lions' favor than against it. This doesn't even include the somewhat straightforward fact that Michigan isn't going to be as good this year to begin with. The Wolverines won't be bad, but they'll be a bit more beatable.

6. Maryland

This game is so late in the schedule that both teams will look far different than they do today. Whatever direction their respective seasons are headed in, Penn State and Maryland will be nearing their final destination. So this game might be easier or harder than it appears right now. For the most part it's this high up the list simply because Maryland has been problematic for Penn State in the past, even in victory. Couple that with the first trip to College Park and it's far from a walk in the park.

7. Pittsburgh

Rivalry or not, Pitt is going to come out swinging and that's worth a few pegs right there. The Panthers aren't going to be nearly as good this year, and there isn't tons of reasons to think Penn State will lose, but Pitt won't care. If anything a big game in Week 2 is as good of a time as any to pull off a shocker if you're an upset minded team before Penn State can gather some momentum.

8. Nebraska 

Another case of a game late down the line without much value in guessing now. If Penn State is getting hotter and hotter as the season goes along then the Cornhuskers are in trouble, if the Nittany Lions have come back to Earth then all bets are off for this one. Playing Nebraska will never be easy, but there is no reason this game is clearly harder than the rest.

9. Indiana

If this was still Kevin Wilson's team this game would be much higher on the list. Unless Indiana can replicate it's fairly competent offensive attack from 2016in 2017 under a new head coach, it's unlikely the Hoosiers can hang on against Penn State in Beaver Stadium.

10. Rutgers

Rutgers is like Purdue if Purdue didn't hold practice. 

11. Georgia State

New head coach, random night game, not nearly as many skill players as Penn State. This is straightforward.

12. Akron

If Penn State loses to Akron to open the season this game being ranked last on the list will be the least of your worries.


Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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