Somewhere in between?
As summer ball nears, we took a crack at predicting how the Nittany Lions’ season will play out.
Here are our latest game-by-game predictions for Penn State Football:
Breaking down the 2022 Penn State Football Schedule
Sept. 1 Penn State Football @ Purdue 8:00 p.m., FOX
Penn State Football once again opens the season in conference play with a quality opponent. The Boilermakers made a bowl game in each of the first two seasons under head coach Jeff Brohm. While being down during 2019 and the covid 2020 season, they bounced back in a big way finishing 9-4 in 2021. It was the most wins for the Boilermakers since the 2003 season and was capped with an exciting win over Tennessee in the Music City Bowl.
The Nittany Lions will have to deal with the return of star quarterback Aiden O’Connell who threw for 3,712 yards, 28 TDs and 11 INTs in 12 games last season. In addition to their solid quarterback the Boilermakers defense only allowed 22.4 ppg last season good for 34th in the nation.
Purdue is already planning a blackout for the game, something Ohio State didn’t handle particularly well in 2018.
Sports books only have the Nittany Lions as 3-point favorites so expect this one to be a close one.
Prediction: Penn State 38, Purdue 35
Sept. 10 Penn State Football vs. Ohio Noon, ABC
This is a rematch of the upset loss to the Bobcats that Penn State Football took at the beginning of the first sanction season in 2012.
In that game Penn State Football jumped out to a 14-3 halftime lead, but ultimately fell 24-14.
Penn State Football leads the all-time series 5-1, although most of those wins came in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Ohio finished 3-9 (3-5) last season and don’t appear to be a particularly strong MAC school this season. Revenge is a sweet and wonderful thing.
Prediction: Penn State 52, Ohio 7
Sept. 17 @ Auburn 3:30 p.m, CBS
Last season, the Nittany Lions welcomed the Auburn Tigers to Happy Valley for a non conference whiteout, and Penn State Football prevailed in front of a raucous crowd, defeating the Tigers 28-20.
This offseason has been filled with turnover and turmoil for Auburn after starting quarterback Bo Nix transferred to Oregon and head coach Bryan Harsin found himself in an internet scandal with one of his assistants.
Despite everything going on in Alabama, this matchup will still be difficult being an SEC game in September on the road.
The last time the Nittany Lions found themselves down south was a 24-3 loss to No. 1 Alabama back in 2010.
Star running back Tank Bigsby decided not to transfer from Auburn, and was a key part of their offense last season gashing the Nittany Lion defense on the ground. Penn State Football currently sits as a 1.5-point favorite according to the Barstool Sportsbook.
This game, like Purdue, will be an early season road test that will help project how the Nittany Lions will fare against their schedule.
Prediction: Penn State 28, Auburn 24
Sept. 24 Penn State Football vs. Central Michigan TBD BTN
The Chippewas are a MAC team that Penn State Football fans don’t have much history with.
The lone meeting between the schools was in 2005 where the Nittany Lions won handily 40-3. The coach for the Chippewas in that game … Brian Kelly! Penn State finished 11-1 that season, winning a Big 10 championship, and a thrilling Orange Bowl over Florida State in 3OT.
Like 2005, Penn State Football is coming off two lackluster seasons so maybe a bounce back season is on the way after all. Last season Central Michigan finished 9-4 (6-2) including a win over Washington State in the Sun Bowl.
The Chippewas averaged 32.3 points per game on offense in 2021, good for 35th in the nation. While the Nittany Lions should be able to handle a MAC team with ease, don’t be surprised if Central Michigan finds the end zone a few times especially late.
Prediction: Penn State Football 45, Central Michigan 17
Oct. 1 Penn State Football vs. Northwestern TBD
The Wildcats’ offense was putrid last season averaging, just 16.6 ppg ranking 125th out of 130.
Finishing 3-9 (1-8) in conference, expect Pat Fitzgerald to bounce back as he has had back-to-back losing seasons just once during his 16-year coaching career at Northwestern.
Penn State Football leads the all-time series 14-5, with the last matchup occurring back in 2017 where the Nittany Lions won 31-7 in Evanston.
This is a good game to kickstart Penn State Football back into Big 10 play, and will provide a challenge but certainly a winnable game in front of the home crowd.
Expect a hard-fought game, but one where the Nittany Lions will pull ahead late to make it comfortable.
Prediction: Penn State 37, Northwestern 14
Oct. 15 Penn State Football @ Michigan, TBD
The Michigan rivalry has been building year after year, ever since the Nittany Lions joined the Big Ten.
The Wolverines currently lead the all-time series 15-10, and won last year’s matchup 21-17 on a late 4th quarter touchdown.
Jim Harbaugh and company finally broke through in 2021 beating Ohio State for the first time, capturing the Big 10 title, and making the College Football Playoff. While they lost Heisman runner up Aidan Hutchinson and other key contributors, expect the Wolverines to be a top-10 team again, and possibly 6-0 heading into this matchup.
The Big house will also be doing their Maize out for this game, as Penn State Football draws another color coordinated road game.
Franklin hasn’t had much success in the Big House, going just 1-3 in his 4 trips, the one win coming in 2020 with no fans. There is a possibility that both Penn State Football and Michigan are each undefeated heading into this matchup, and this could be a potential spot for ESPN’s College Gameday.
The Nittany Lions will be coming off a bye week, and will have two weeks to prepare for the Wolverines. The current line on the Barstool Sportsbook sits with Penn State Football as a 5.5-point underdog. This will be the third measuring-stick game for the Nittany Lions, and if they can find a way to win on the road in a hostile environment, it could push the playoff contention into another gear.
Prediction: Michigan 31, Penn State Football 21
Oct. 22 Penn State Football vs. Minnesota 7:00 PM, TBD
The Whiteout will return this season with an unfamiliar opponent.
The rumors were swirling this offseason that since FOX had the Penn State Football vs. Ohio State game, the game would kickoff at 12pm as a part of their Big Noon Kickoff. This resulted in a counterpunch by the university to set the time for the Minnesota game as a night game and the whiteout, proving that the university sees the whiteout being at night as a priority over the opponent.
This game will be another revenge opportunity for the Nittany Lions, as the Gophers ended their 8-0 record and College Football Playoff chase in 2019.
This will be the battle of old quarterbacks as Minnesota is returning Tanner Morgan for his 6th year like Sean Clifford.
PJ Fleck led the Gophers to a 9-4 (6-3) record last season and their defense was ranked 6th in the country allowing just 17.3 ppg.
Expect to see the Gophers compete in the Big 10 West this season, especially as Fleck will look to lead the team to their first Big 10 Championship game.
While many would have preferred Ohio State, the revenge factor along with the possibility of Minnesota being ranked is a good consolation prize for a Penn State Whiteout clash.
Who else wouldn’t want to see a Whiteout for the Governor’s Victory Bell, which some would call the most prestigious of Big 10 trophies?
Penn State Football leads the all-time series 9-6 and expect a big home field advantage for a team that hasn’t experienced a Penn State Whiteout at night.
Prediction: Penn State Football 42, Minnesota 24
Oct. 29 Penn State Football vs. Ohio State, TBD
This is by far the biggest game of Penn State Football’s season, as the Buckeyes will play in front of a full Beaver Stadium for the first time since 2018.
While the Buckeyes lead the series 22-14, it has become more lopsided in recent years, with a five-game winning streak.
The last Penn State Football victory over Ohio State came in 2016, with the famous blocked field goal.
That doesn’t mean the Nittany Lions haven’t been close. Many fans will remember the painful double digit lead collapses in both 2017 and 2018. The team seems to always get up for the Buckeyes even when they are clearly overmatched from a talent perspective.
This year’s Ohio State team on paper is considered by many to be the only team in the country who could give Alabama a run for the National Championship. Returning superstars CJ Stroud (QB), TreVeyon Henderson (RB), and Jackson Smith-Njigba (WR) all have the potential to find themselves in New York for the Heisman trophy ceremony at the end of the season.
The question mark about the Buckeyes is whether they can improve on defense this season with new defensive coordinator Jim Knowles. Knowles spent his last 4 seasons at Oklahoma State and turned their defense into a top-10 defense in several categories. He will have even more talent to work with at Ohio State and the hire is one of the reasons many are picking the Buckeyes as a National contender.
If Penn State Football is to win this game, it will have to be a combination of using the home crowd, season momentum, and not letting the Buckeye offense jump out to a large early lead.
If there is anyone in the Big Ten who has a somewhat close talent level to Ohio State, it is Penn State.
Prediction: Ohio State 31, Penn State Football 21
Nov. 5 Penn State Football @ Indiana, TBD
Even though Penn State Football leads the all-time series 23-2, the Hoosiers have been a tough opponent especially in Bloomington.
This year’s team isn’t the same as that 2020 team that upset the Nittany Lions with the pylon dive. It still wasn’t a touchdown, by the way.
Last season, the Hoosiers finished a dreadful 2-10 (0-9) and I wouldn’t expect much difference this season as the six teams in front of them in the Big Ten east continue to get better.
Playing in Bloomington is always tricky, and the crowd a bit sleepy. Expect to watch this game at Noon on BTN or ESPN 2 with the stands at 50% capacity.
Penn State Football should win this game rather easily, although, if we learned anything from Illinois last season is to not take any conference game lightly.
Prediction: Penn State 35, Indiana 10
Nov. 12 Penn State Football vs. Maryland, TBD
The Terrapins have been steadily improving under Mike Locksley.
After finishing 3-9 and 2-3 in his first two seasons, Locksley broke through in 2021 finishing 7-6 (3-6) while winning the Pinstripe Bowl over Virginia Tech.
Penn State Football dominates this series, leading 41-3-1 all time. Although, it is important to point out that two of those Maryland victories came in 2014 and 2020, since they have joined the Big Ten. And, both also occurred in Beaver Stadium.
Maryland has been recruiting at a much higher level in the past few seasons, and has even prevented the Nittany Lions from a few recruits in the DMV area in recent years.
Don’t expect the blowouts that we saw during the Trace McSorley era of this “rivalry,” but, this still should be a solid win for Penn State Football.
Prediction: Penn State 35, Maryland 14
Nov. 19 Penn State Football @ Rutgers, TBD
Another team that the Nittany Lions have beaten up in the past but is improving.
Penn State Football leads the all-time series 30-2, and is currently enjoying on a 15-game winning streak.
Since joining the Big 10 in 2014, Rutgers has scored double-digits only once. They have scored a total of three touchdowns in the last eight games, as well.
Greg Schiano does have the team heading in the right direction, though. Last season the Scarlet Knights finished 5-8 (2-7), a big improvement from being a laughingstock in previous years.
Rutgers will need to improve on offense this year if they hope to make a bowl game again as they ranked 120th out of 130 last season’s scoring just 19.7 points per game.
The talent disparity between the Nittany Lions and Scarlet Knights is still rather large, but being at home don’t be surprised if Rutgers finds the end zone more than once in this year’s edition of this “rivalry”.
Prediction: Penn State 45, Rutgers 14
Nov. 26 Penn State Football vs. Michigan State
It isn’t unreasonable to think that this game could decide which team has an opportunity at a NY6 bowl game.
Michigan State shocked the nation last season, finishing 11-2 (7-2) after many picked them to finish toward the bottom of the Big Ten East.
Last year’s game featured a 30-27 snowy Spartan victory.
Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker signed a massive extension last season worth $95 million over 10 years. In a lot of ways, Tucker and Franklin are in similar situations …try to catch and compete with Ohio State in the division.
This series is one of the more even for any Penn State opponent, with the Spartans leading 18-17-1 all time.
This game tends to rely heavily on how a team is streaking down the stretch. While the last game of the season usually has a lack of student attendance due to fall break, expect this one to be a fun matchup. Plus, who wouldn’t want to play for the greatest rivalry trophy in all of sports?
Prediction: Penn State 21, Michigan State 14
Final record: 10-2
It is easy to look through this schedule and easily see the Nittany Lions winning double digit games.
Key contests will include Purdue, Auburn, Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State. How the Nittany Lions start the season will determine the momentum they have heading into further matchups.