By Ron Johnson
The 2023 Penn State Nittany Lions
There is a lot of hype surrounding the Penn State Nittany Lions this upcoming season. While the team is not looking too far into the future, there are a lot of beat writers and students around Penn State that are thinking that this could be the year that PSU could be aiming higher than recent memory.
One writer in particular with high hopes in mind is veteran beat writer Bob Flounders.
Penn Live Patriot-News Editor Burke Noel had a chance to sit down with Flounders to get his thoughts on the upcoming season for Penn State, and Flounders did not hold back on his thoughts about the Nittany Lions’ chances of owning the Big Ten Conference. After covering the program for 22 years, Flounders said flat out that he believes that Penn State will win one of those games (Ohio State and/or Michigan), and that James Franklin’s team is so talented, that 12-0 season isn’t out of the question.
Flounders’ logic is based on the face that C.J. Stroud is no longer running the Buckeyes’ offense, so when the two teams collide inside the Horseshoe on October 21st, the Lions could win that one or the clash on November 11th with Michigan at State College. The writer’s thoughts is that despite Franklin’s record against the two teams (1-8 vs. Ohio State, 3-6 vs. Michigan), the arrival of Manny Diaz has changed the perspective and perception of PSU Football.
The last time Penn State’s defense was ranked as high as second in the nation, they went 11-1 and won the Orange Bowl. This year, Diaz’s fingerprints are all over this defense with new additions and top-tier talent all over it. But while the defense is not an issue for them, their five-star quarterback is in Drew Allar. According to Flounders, Allar will have some rough moments at the beginning of the season but will finally settle down by the time he faces Ohio State and Michigan.
In the eyes of Flounders, the Nittany Lions will make the College Football Playoff if they go 11-1 in the regular season and thump the Big Ten West champ in the conference championship game. He also believes that they will lose a close one to Ohio State but beat Michigan at Beaver Stadium all the while still believing 12-0 is possible.
While Penn State may have the talent defensively, I am very curious as to the offense. Is Allar all bark and no bite? We don’t know, but I’m looking forward to finding out. As for the prediction, I’m going to say that Flounders has it backwards. I believe they will beat Ohio State in Columbus (If Michigan can do, why can’t Penn State, right?), but they will suffer a heartbreaking loss to Michigan in their own backyard. The one thing Harbaugh is known for, it is finding diamonds in the rough.
And if Michigan looks tough enough to get Mark Ingram’s seal of approval, why not mine? Penn State finishes either 9-3 or 10-2 at best.