2011-2012 Football Previews – Big 10 Conference – Penn State Nittany Lions
Penn State dropped back to 7-6 last year as quarterback play was an issue all season long. The legendary Joe Paterno is now entering his 45th year at Penn State, and he has amassed an amazing 401-135-3 record.
Big Ten Conference 2011-2012 Football Previews: Penn State Nittany Lions
Head Coach: Joe Paterno
2010 Record: 7-6
Penn State Gambling Odds from JustBet to win BCS: +3,000
Penn State Odds from JustBet to win Big Ten Leaders Division: +140
Penn State Odds from JustBet to win Big Ten Conference Championship: +260
PSU Page – Players Stats – Roster – 2011 Schedule –>
For the last few years the debate around Happy Valley has been whether Paterno should retire or not. A few short years ago, most people were convinced he was done. Then the Nittany Lions put together an impressive resurgence, but now Penn State has slid back to relative mediocrity.
This is an important year for the team and the future of this program. Was last year’s 7-6 record just a temporary setback or was it something more meaningful?
What is Penn State always known for? Penn State is called Linebacker U for a reason. The Nittany Lions are always stacked with a talented group of linebackers, and this year is no different. Michael Mauti is the best of the group, and he almost certainly has an NFL future ahead of him.
Nate Stupar and Gerald Hodges do everything that the coaches ask them to do, and they should help make this unit one of the best in the conference.
The Penn State secondary is a real area of strength. The Nittany Lions were only able to notch 17 sacks in 2010, but the defensive secondary still ranked as one of the best in the nation. Four guys with extensive playing time are back to form what might be the best secondary in the Big Ten.
D’Anton Lynn has all the skills to be the best cover corner in the conference, and free safety Nick Sukay is a great defensive leader.
The Nittany Lions should be set at the wide receiver position this season.
Derek Moye is a star who could put up some absolutely tremendous numbers with some improved quarterback play. Moye has the size and athleticism necessary to excel at this position, and he also runs very good routes.
Keep an eye out for improved play from Devon Smith in 2011 as well.
Who is going to play quarterback? It’s nice to have other pieces to the puzzle, but without a solid quarterback it is difficult to win consistently in the Big Ten. Robert Bolden and Matt McGloin are still battling for the job. Both showed promise at times last year, but both made far too many mistakes.
These guys don’t have to be stars, but they’ll need to make better decisions with the football.
The offensive line needs to be much better when it comes to run blocking. Penn State’s offensive line has kept the opposition off their quarterbacks, but this group has been surprisingly bad when the team runs the football.
The Nittany Lions have a couple talented runners, but if the line doesn’t improve it will be difficult to run the ball consistently.
2011-2012 Penn State Football Prediction: 8-5
I think Penn State will be quite a bit better than they were last year, but their brutal schedule will make it difficult for them to pick up more than eight wins. The Nittany Lions finish out the season with Nebraska at home, Ohio State on the road, then Wisconsin on the road. Penn State will be tested in a big way by a date with Alabama at home in the second week of the season.
Paterno’s defense should keep this team in most of their games this year, but the offense will likely continue to be inconsistent.
2011 Northwestern Wildcats Schedule
9/3/11 12:00 PM ET INDST
9/10/11 12:00 PM ET ALAB
9/17/11 12:00 PM ET @TEM
9/24/11 12:00 PM ET EMICH
10/1/11 12:00 PM ET @IND
10/8/11 12:00 PM ET IOWA
10/15/11 12:00 PM ET PURD
10/22/11 7:00 PM ET @NWEST
10/29/11 12:00 PM ET ILL
11/12/11 12:00 PM ET NEB
11/19/11 12:00 PM ET @OHIST
11/26/11 12:00 PM ET @WISC