Penn State Football is fresh off of a Rose Bowl win that will undoubtedly lead to big expectations for the program next season.
With the pieces coming back for the Nittany Lions, I believe that Penn State Football will make a run at the College Football Playoff in 2023.
Everyone should jump on the hype train now, because Penn State is a program on the rise and will be a true contender in 2023 and beyond.
Here are 5 reasons why Penn State Football will make the 2023 College Football Playoff
Is there a reason to be more excited about the future than 6-foot 5 freshman five-star quarterback Drew Allar?
Allar was symbolically passed the torch from Sean Clifford in the fourth quarter of the Rose Bowl, as Clifford got his curtain call and Penn State Football is now fully aboard the Drew Allar hype train.
Headed into his second season at Penn State with sky high expectations, Allar has a skillset to back them up.
In backup action during his freshman season, Allar passed for 344 yards and four touchdowns. At times, Allar showed off the arm strength and accuracy that led to his five-star status, throwing 28-yard and 32-yard touchdowns against Ohio. He also showed growth through the season as he picked up more and more of the offense and became a more vocal leader for the team.
Allar will have a second set of spring ball practices to get fully comfortable leading the offense as QB1.
Sophomore two-headed monster backfield
One of the biggest reasons Penn State Football was able to win 11 games this season and move away from the slump of the previous two seasons was the running game.
Led by two stellar freshman running backs Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen, the Nittany Lions running game returned to the form we saw with Saquon Barkley, Miles Sanders, and Journey Brown in the backfield. The pair combined for 1928 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns, averaging almost 6 yards per carry.
With Olu Fashanu and Hunter Nourzad returning on the offensive line, along with talented underclassmen developing, the sky is the limit for both sophomore running backs to continue to put the nation on notice that Penn State has the top running back room in the country.
The 2023 schedule is more favorable for Penn State Football than the 2022 schedule was.
Penn State Football does not start on the road on a Friday. A trip to SEC country is not on the schedule.
Yes, Penn State Football starts Big Ten play on the road for the 13th time in the past 14 years but playing at Illinois is certainly better than beginning the season at Camp Randall or Kinnick.
Penn State gets Iowa at home in September, and Michigan at home in November.
Other than the Michigan game at home on November 11, the game Penn State needs to circle is the trip to the Horseshoe to take on Ohio State on October 31. The Buckeyes will be replacing CJ Stroud, who has declared for the NFL draft and will hopefully take advantage of a young, inexperienced quarterback.
As long as Penn State Football plays to the level it should in 2023, the schedule plays perfectly for James Franklin’s team to be headed to Columbus undefeated and with a win, to play for the de-facto Big Ten championship at Beaver Stadium November 11th.
In media appearances for the Rose Bowl, Penn State Athletic Director Patrick Kraft made no secret that Penn State will do whatever it takes to retain members of the staff for next season.
Manny Diaz’s defense was excellent down the stretch for Penn State and really looks like a home run hire. One or two more seasons with Diaz leading the defense should open a great window for Penn State Football to make a run at the playoff and national championship.
On the other side of the ball, Allar has been learning Mike Yurcich’s offense for a year now and continuity would go a long way in his development as a quarterback.
Keeping as many staff members as possible will ensure that players are able to continue to develop over spring ball rather than spending time learning from a new coach or learning a new system. Hopefully when all of the dust settles, Penn State will have the staff intact to make a huge run toward the Big Ten championship and the national championship for the next two years.
Key members of the defense (Curtis Jacobs, Adisa Isaac) have decisions to make on the NFL, but there is plenty of reason to be excited about Penn State’s defense for 2023.
Young talent showed out for Penn State all over the defense this season.
Freshman All American Abdul Carter finished the year leading the team with six and a half sacks and two forced fumbles. Carter also had the second most tackles on the defense (56) even without starting a majority of games for Penn State.
Even if Adisa Isaac decides to enter the NFL draft, Penn State’s defensive line is stacked with talent for 2023. Chop Robinson, the transfer from Maryland, made an immediate impact on the defensive line, tallying five and a half sacks, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery on the season.
Former five-star Dani Dennis Sutton will also be entering his second year on campus, and will be primed for a larger role.
In the secondary, Penn State is led by Kalen King, fresh off a stellar sophomore campaign where he took over for Joey Porter Jr. when the All American missed a few games due to an injury. With the young talent continuing to develop, Penn State’s defense is in good hands for the next few years with playmakers all over the field.
Penn State Football is stacked with talent, (hopefully) returning an intact staff, and moving into a new era at quarterback.
Take care of business and play up to the Penn State level and this team could be headed for a special run over the next two years.