Summer is just around the corner and temperatures are starting to rise. Before you know it, you might find yourself at the beach or pool, grabbing a trusty college football preview magazine to do some requisite summer reading. One of the must-haves for many of us has been the Athlon Sports College Football Preview Magazine and the good news is that this year’s editions are hitting newsstands very soon.
In honor of the occasion, Athlon Sports unveiled its top 25 prediction for the upcoming season. Athlon Sports has looked into its crystal ball to see how the upcoming college football season will play out and is trying to guess how teams will fare at the end of the season. Without spoiling anyone too much, Athlon Sports is predicting a big year for the Alabama Crimson Tide, Ohio State Buckeyes, Georgia Bulldogs and Clemson Tigers.
But what about Penn State, you might ask? The good news is that the Nittany Lions make the Athlon Top 25. But just barely.
Penn State checks in at #25 in the Athlon Sports prediction for this season, our first preseason prediction now officially on the books for 2022. Penn State is a program that leaves a good mix of optimism and questions about the upcoming season, given the previous preseason rankings and thoughts we’ve explored from various outlets this offseason. The offense raises the most questions after struggling to lead football in 2021 and the return of Sean Clifford as quarterback coupled with Jahan Dotson’s departure to the NFL. Defense is also losing a number of players, but the unit still seems more than respectable enough to hold its weight this fall.
Here’s some of what Athlon Sports had to say about Penn State in its preseason prediction;
Getting back on track in 2022 is desperately needed as the program has gone 11-11 the past two seasons. Improving offense is a must for Penn State to pull off double-digit wins this fall. That unit averaged just 22.8 points per game and 4.9 yards per game in Big Ten matchups last year. Underplaying off the offensive line was a driving force in the offensive struggles, as the Nittany Lions had just two rushes of over 40 yards and averaged 2.96 yards per carry in Big Ten games. Also, no running back has surpassed 100 rushing yards in a game in 21. Quarterback Sean Clifford also has room to improve after averaging 6.5 yards per attempt in conference play and ranking ninth in completion percentage (57.9). If the offensive line takes a step forward, Clifford will not be short of playmakers on the outside as Parker Washington, Mitchell Tinsley and KeAndre Lambert-Smith return.
All are now fair and well-documented points. Penn State’s biggest area for improvement in 2022 is on the offensive side of football. The talent may be there for individual success in key positions, but playing the offensive line comes first. If the offensive line struggles again in 2022, it could open the door to another sub-optimal offensive production for the Nittany Lions.
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