1. Penn State’s lack of returning starters will hurt
A good deal of the Nittany Lions’ success in the last few seasons has come from good leadership. They were able to stack up a very solid group of good talent for a long period of time which created nice continuity. This is vital especially for teams who don’t always get a consistent stream of new talent coming in from recruiting like Ohio State.
This Spring, the Lions lost six players to the NFL Draft. These losses included some of their best players who made the big plays against the Buckeyes in the past. It will be difficult for them to rebound from this and expect similar results from new players. This is especially true as the Lions had decent success against the Buckeyes with their previous group.
Penn State rolled out a very talented team last year that had some of their better players in their final season. Last year was supposed to be the season where the Nittany Lions made big moves. They had players like All-American running back and early Heisman favorite Saquon Barkley, tight end Mike Gesicki, receivers Chris Godwin, Saeed Blacknall, and DaeSean Hamilton, and defensive backs Marcus Allen, Troy Apke, and Christian Campbell.
The amount of new starters on the Nittany Lions’ roster creates a lot of uncertainty. This can be a good thing for the Lions or it could be bad. Their roster does not lack talent but inexperience seems to have slowed their progress so far this season. They’ve had slow starts against several teams especially against Appalachian State in week one and most recently Illinois last weekend where they were up just four points at halftime.
The Buckeyes coming to Happy Valley will certainly be a large test for the Nittany Lions. It’s undeniably a very difficult environment to play in and their home record speaks for itself.
However, the Buckeyes have played well under pressure which definitely doesn’t seem to shake up Dwayne Haskins one bit. Expect the Buckeyes to go to work against a Nittany Lions team that is still trying to put things together in their lineups.