Team strength, McSorley, main reasons PSU can win out
There are four reasons why I believe Penn State will run the table the rest of the regular season and finish 11-1.
1. — The Nittany Lions are better than every opponent left on their schedule, and at the end of the day, I’ll take the better team to win any individual game.
The only real challenge to that statement is Michigan. I just don’t have much faith in Wisconsin, especially with that game being at Beaver Stadium.
There’s a chance the Wolverines might be better than PSU, but I just don’t see it. Not with the old-school style of offense Jim Harbaugh still runs, even though it has become a burden to his program.
The game next week is at the Big House, and there’s no question it will be a tough contest for Penn State to win. But I think the Lions will indeed prevail because of …
2. — Trace McSorley.
I have the utmost faith that No. 9 simply will not let Penn State lose again.
Had the coaches made the right decision and kept the ball in his hands on fourth down against Ohio State, I think the Lions would still be sitting here undefeated.
I’ll admit, I’m in awe of what McSorley has done in his remarkable college career. He is the best quarterback in Penn State history while in college (not including the pros), and I can see him willing the team to victory if the Lions find themselves in another close game down the stretch.
It blows my mind that people have Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins ahead of McSorley in the Heisman race. Did they not watch the game last week?
Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa probably will win the Heisman because he’s putting up incredible numbers on a team that blows out everybody, but I still think McSorley means more to his team than Tua does to the Tide.
3. — Penn State’s defense is better than I expected.
The first 52 minutes against Ohio State’s explosive offense proved that.
Yes, the defense wore down and struggled the final 8 minutes. But a defense that allows only 27 points to the Buckeyes is good enough to keep the Lions in any game, then McSorley can work his magic whenever needed.
4. — Motivation.
The Lions are still very much in the hunt for a berth in the College Football Playoff.
If they finish 11-1 with the lone loss being by a single point to Ohio State — and if the Buckeyes go undefeated and win the Big Ten — then it’s hard to imagine any one-loss team having a better resume than Penn State.
The problem is that four teams likely will go undefeated — Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame and Ohio State — and that would shut out Penn State. But if Clemson or Notre Dame loses, then the Lions could grab that spot.
Just remaining in the discussion will keep PSU focused the rest of the way, as opposed to suffering some type of letdown following the tough loss to the Buckeyes.
Cory Giger covers Penn State football and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.