I like Penn State and part of me thinks I have them ranked too low at No. 11. But I'm not ready to put the Nittany Lions in my Top 10 until three questions get answered:
1--Can the offense, which averaged 41.1 points per game (7th nationally) last season, overcome the loss of Saquon Barkley AND Joe Moorhead? Barkley was a football-playing dude who put the fear of God into the heart of every defense he played against. He could do everything and Moorhead, the Nittany Lions' offensive coordinator, knew how to get the ball to Barkley in space. Barkley is now in the NFL and Moorhead is the head coach at Mississippi State.
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2--Trace McSorley is really good. But can he be great? McSorley led the Big Ten in passing last season (274.6 ypg) and did a good job of protecting the football (10 interceptions on 427 attempts) while completing 66.5 percent of his passes. With a veteran offensive line and a group of big-time receivers led by Juwan Johnson (54 catches last season), McSorley has enough talent around him to make the jump from good to great.
3--The defense is going to drop off with only two starters returning from a group that gave up 16.5 ppg, which was No. 7 nationally. Can this unit be good enough so that Penn State won't have to score 35-plus points a game to win against the better defenses in the Big Ten?
Penn State gets Ohio State and Michigan State at home plus Michigan on the road. A Nov. 10 visit from Wisconsin could be huge if the Nittany Lions are still in the hunt.
I can see a scenario of an 11-1 Penn State whose only loss was a close one to Ohio State. The CFP selection committee would have to give the Nittany Lions a serious look as one of the top four teams in the country.