Quick Hitch...  

Posted by Frazier

Just wanted to take a moment to comment on a team that may not crack our power rankings for the first week but deserves some discussion. Last year Penn St. went 11-1 with their only loss coming in the final seconds against Michigan. That season included a thrilling victory over Ohio St. (whose only other loss was a close one to the national champs) and a defensive battle against Florida St. (a game that was poorly played offensively and in the kicking game, but featured two great defenses). This year, with many key players returning, they dropped to preseason #21, which seems ridiculously low considering many of the teams in front of them do not have possibly the best young receiving threesome in the country, and the country's best linebacker.

Now this year features trips to both Notre Dame and Ohio St. so another one-loss season will be difficult. The Buckeyes may be nearly unbeatable at home. While Notre Dame may seem ripe for the plucking coming after a lackluster performance in their debut, winning in South Bend is a monumental task.

While the Nittany Lions may have lost their senior quarterback, they return a very solid nucleus of players. Tony Hunt and his 1,000 rushing yards are back, but he needs to improve on his poor showing against Akron. Deon Butler, Jordan Norwood and Derrick Williams are explosive sophomores in the receiving game. New starter Anthony Morelli looked very good in his first start at quarterback, passing for 200 yards, 3 TDs without throwing an interception.

Last year PSU's strength was on the defensive side of the ball, and it should be again this year. While they lost a lot of talent, they return their excellent linebacker corps, led by Paul Posluszny who won the Bednarik award as the nations top linebacker, and is an absolute tackling machine. An excellent crop of linebackers can cover other defensive deficiencies, and will give the rest of the unit time to develop.

Penn St. never really got the credit they deserved for a surprising, and excellent, 2005 campaign, and their preseason ranking this year is further proof of that. This is a team that flew under the radar last year, and has a chance to do so again. Even if they can't recreate last years' incredible run, the Nittany Lions will be a team that no one wants to play.


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