Penn State Football: Way Too Early Game-by-Game Season Predictions
It’s June, which means there is absolutely not enough information about this Penn State team to accurately predict the upcoming football season. So let’s do it anyway. Here are game-by-game predictions for Penn State’s upcoming 2023-24 regular season.
vs. West Virginia [Win]
The Mountaineers only have one quarterback older than a sophomore in Garrett Greene but Greene only played last season in relief of JT Daniels and won the “you’re the next best option” award in the process. In any case West Virginia having to open the season on the road at night at Beaver Stadium is a tough ask, especially with what will likely be a young quarterback. You could say the same for Penn State’s young quarterback room, but it’s way easier to be a young guy in the huddle when everyone is yelling for you, not at you. Ground game takes care of business, Allar shows some flashes. This might be a game that includes some rust and some bumps in the road but the better team wins and Penn State is the better team.
vs. Delaware [Win]
This is a fun game. In all likelihood it’s not going to be a good one, but there’s something enjoyable about Penn State giving a program like Delaware a little love and slightly bigger check. The Blue Hens are a proud program with a pretty good football history, but they aren’t going to pose quite the same existential threat to Penn State the same way Pitt or even Temple might. This game is on Peacock which is going to annoy a lot of people but how angry can you get about a trying to watch a game you were going to leave at the end of the third quarter alway.
at Illinois [Win]
The Illini are coming off a season that started at 7-1 but ended 8-5 so take your pick which Illinois team you think you might see. Penn State didn’t do too well with its last early central time kick [Minnesota in 2019] but this Illinois team is a bit different and missing the NFL bound quarterback Tommy DeVito. The Illini won’t be complete pushovers and a stout defense will make for a good road test for Drew Allar, but this is another case of “which team has fewer problems?” that team will win. This is the game when it will start to really matter if Penn State’s receivers are up to snuff this season. Ugly game but Penn State has more weapons than weaknesses and a defense that will bail out any early season offensive hiccups.
vs. Iowa [Win]
A lot has happened since these two met in Iowa City a few years ago but it’s safe to assumed Penn State [James Franklin] hasn’t forgotten the whole deal with the Hawkeyes accusing Penn State of faking injuries. Even if that water is under the bridge a White Out game and a little spite will go a long way. Iowa’s defense is good but a lot is going to have to change for that offense to suddenly be a point scoring threat in bulk. Iowa will keep it close for a bit but there’s too little in the Hawkeyes’ favor and too much unexpected animosity for two programs that traditionally haven’t spent much time thinking about one another.
at Northwestern [Win]
If Penn State has made it to 4-0 then it will have already won more difficult games than this one. Wildcats only won a single game last year and that was in Ireland. All told Northwestern hasn’t won a game on American soil since October 2021. Pat Fitzgerald is never an easy out but Northwestern – even a rebounding Northwestern – isn’t winning this game.
vs. UMass [Win]
The only real question mark here is if Penn State can avoid looking ahead to Ohio State. UMass might have some pride in its corner and head coach Don Brown — Michigan’s former defensive coordinator — will have an idea of how to slow Penn State down but knowing what to do and being able to do it are two very different things. This game might be a little ugly at times if Penn State isn’t focused, but if this team is worth anything it will take care of business.
at. Ohio State [Loss]
All things being equal Penn State’s defense is going to keep the Nittany Lions’ in the game and Penn State’s running game is going to slow the clock down a bit. The problem here is that until further notice the Nittany Lions won’t have a truly top end receiver to really complement the running game. This will be a fun game for cornerback Kalen King who will likely go up against Marvin Harrison Jr., probably one of the best offensive players in college football next season. As of June, Ohio State doesn’t have a starting quarterback yet, but until the Buckeyes can’t plug-and-win with a new quarterback you have to assume they will. This game might be Penn State’s best on-paper chance of being Ohio State in the last few years but until the Nittany Lions actually do it, you have to assume this game will be like most of the others: close but no cigar. We’ll learn a lot about Drew Allar here.
vs. Indiana [Win]
The Hoosiers are perpetually one of those programs that seems to be on the brink of maybe actually being consistent and then reverting back to the norm. Penn State will be coming off an emotional game no matter what happens against Ohio State but nothing helps knock off the cobwebs like playing at home. Indiana is always a threat to throw for a lot of yards, but probably not a threat to turn that into a win.
at. Maryland [Win]
This game always feels like it should be more interesting than it is and then Maryland scores about 10 points and Penn State scores 54. The later you get into a season the harder it is to predict some of the trends but until Maryland starts really threatening Penn State then there’s no reason to think it will. It always seems like setting yourself up for failure predicting a blowout but probably safe to at least pick Penn State in this one.
vs. Michigan [Win]
Picking Penn State to win here has less to do with thinking Penn State is going to be better than Michigan and more to do with the fact Penn State is due for another marquee regular season win under James Franklin. Wolverines might be a step slower than they were last season and the Nittany Lions are looking – desperately – for a win over either of the Big Two in the East. This series has been closer than it looks on paper but after getting punished physically last year, don’t be surprised if the Nittany Lions come out with a bit of a chip on their shoulder. Abdul Carter and Curtis Jacobs lead the charge here. Allar coming of age game to bail out a slower running afternoon.
vs. Rutgers [Win]
Rutgers is more feisty than it used to be but Rutgers is still Rutgers. Especially if Penn State is barking up a playoff tree.
at. Michigan State [Win]
The Ford Field aspect of this game will take the weather out of the equation which is nice because this game always includes awful weather. This series is tough to predict and adding in what amounts to a quasi neutral site is a weird wrinkle. If Penn State has made it this far with a good record and a win over Michigan any game has upset potential but the Nittany Lions don’t trip up here. Then again there are so many things that happen by the time you get to the last game of the regular season it’s almost impossible to predict anything.