Penn State Football Prediction Roundtable: Win Total for 2015


Believe it or not, it’s actually Penn State game week! There’s no better way to start of the new season than by debating how things will go. In just a few days, all of the talking and predicting will stop, and the games will be settled on the field. Head coach James Franklin will look to take his Nittany Lions even further in 2015.

Before the real action get’s rolling, it’s time to have fun making predictions for Penn State’s win total for the 2015 season. We here at VBR have no problem telling you are thoughts for this upcoming season. Feel free to add your thoughts!

Lead Editor Barry Leonard Jr. 

Okay, so call me crazy, or a homer, or whatever you want, but I’ve had a great feeling about this team for the last several months. Sure, everyone is going to talk about the offensive line, but I think that unit will be much improved this season.

Offensive line issues aside, the offense is loaded with both experience and talent. Quarterback Christian Hackenberg will be in the Heisman race at some point this season. Helping him get there is the fact that he will have the option of throwing to numerous targets. Add in a solid run game, and the Nittany Lions are going to put up points.

The defense will once again be one of the best in the nation, meaning that the offense, which will be potent, may not even need to put up a ton of points.

At the end of the day, I’m eyeing a 10-win season for the Nittany Lions. I really wanted to say 11, but I see a loss at Michigan State as well as a slip-up somewhere else (perhaps Northwestern). Notice, I didn’t mention Ohio State. I’m actually confident that Penn State will pull one of the biggest upsets of the season in Columbus.

10-2 is my pick, but don’t be surprised if the records ends up at 11-1.

Staff Writer Marty Leap

This season, Penn State’s offense will improve, the question is just how much? If the offensive line can go from horrible, to just serviceable, Penn State’s offense as a whole should improve immensely. Christian Hackenberg is as good as any quarterback in the country, and the Nittany Lions are loaded at tight end and wide receiver. The running game, due to better OL play and the addition of Saquon Barkley, should improve as well.

The defense should be one of the best in the country once again. The Nittany Lions return eight starters, and are faster and more athletic on defense this year than last. I look for Nyeem Wartman-White to do a good job of replacing Mike Hull, and for the secondary led by Jordan Lucas to be one of the best in the Big Ten. Penn State’s special teams, specifically the punting and kicking games, are causes for concern though.

Overall, the Nittany Lions have a very manageable schedule, they have more depth than last year, and are more talented than last year. I am saying they go 9-3 this season.

Staff Writer Shane Lunnen

This is a good Penn State team and I flipped back and forth between eight and nine wins, finally going the conservative route with 8 wins.  The Lions would have to play near perfect games to beat Ohio State or Michigan State and I just don’t see it. The other two losses will come against teams Penn State should be favored against.  San Diego State, Indiana, Northwestern and Michigan are all possible losses.  The biggest question mark is the offensive line.  It should be improved, but I’m not entirely convinced it’s good enough to compete for the Big Ten East this season.

Still, eight wins would be an improvement over last year.  Depending on how the conference shakes out, eight wins could land the Lions in a Florida bowl game on January 1st which would be a nice step forward for this young team.   I think this year sets James Franklin and company up nicely for what could be a special season in 2016.

Staff Writer Nick Lemon

At Pat’s Downtown Bar and Grill, the Penn State bar here in Denver, they must have swapped out the kegs with blue and white koolaid because I predict that Penn State takes advantage of its favorable schedule and goes 10-2, returning to national prominence a season earlier than expected. The basis of my prediction is that the stats from a season ago support that by simply being average offensively, Penn State has a legitimate chance to be an exceptional team. I know what you’re thinking, a four win improvement from a season ago is unrealistic, right? One just needs to look at the very obvious and major concerns that reside along the offensive line and with the inconsistent special teams play to realize Penn State cannot realistically finish as a top 15 team this year.

Fair enough, but just ask yourself this question: In 2015 can, Penn State’s offense improve to the point that they are average or even slightly below average? As mediocre offensively as say Rutgers, who was ranked 80th in scoring offense last season and threw for five interceptions against Penn State? As unfathomable as it sounds and thanks largely in part to an elite defense, if Penn State’s scoring offense a season ago was slightly below average and ranked 80th in the country (instead of 110th) it would have went 10-2 as four of their six losses were decided by six points or less.

Penn State is returning the Big Ten leader in receptions from a season ago in DaeSean Hamilton and the depth and talent at tight end with Adam Breneman and Mike Gesicki is unparalleled. Akeel Lynch steps into the starting running back role after averaging over four yards per carry during the second half of last season in a stretch that included games against Ohio State and the nation’s top two rushing defenses in Michigan State and Boston College. Then there is Christian Hackenberg, the “experts” top quarterback prospect in the country who is more than capable of doubling up on his 12 touchdown passes from a season ago. With even just a slight improvement on the offensive line, Penn State certainly has the weapons to be capable of performing at an average (and potentially much better) level on offense.

In 2015, being average on offense might just be good enough to exceed expectations, as Penn State will once again lean heavily on its talented defense to win football games. I predict the Buckeyes will hand Penn State it’s first loss of the season and the inconsistent kicking game will cost them another winnable game late in the season against possibly Northwestern or Michigan.  A stunning victory against Michigan State in the finale gives Franklin his first program-defining win while at Penn State and caps the 10-win season, helping to solidify Penn State’s return to national prominence a season earlier than most expected.

Staff Writer Ryan Lance

I’m predicting the Nittany Lions to finish the season at 9-3 with a real possibility to finish the season at 8-4. Penn States opening slate is favorable as they open with Temple at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia and then head home for five straight home games. Temple, Rutgers and San Diego State could all pose a threat for the Nittany Lions but I think their defense will be too much for their opponents to overcome.

After starting the season 5-0, their first loss on the schedule will likely be when they travel to Columbus to take on the defending National Champions, Ohio State Buckeyes in primetime. I think the Nittany Lions could then lose a tough one on the road at Northwestern before heading home to take on the Michigan Wolverines. I think the Michigan game is a toss-up but think the Nittany Lions squeeze out a tight one before dropping their season finale to the Michigan State Spartans.

Although I think the Nittany Lions get to nine wins, I can also see them dropping a tossup game to either Maryland or Michigan which would put them at 8-4 on the season. Their defense will most likely keep them in every game they play this season and if the offensive line can improve just a little bit from a season ago, Penn State should be in line for 9 wins and an exciting season.

Staff Writer Dylan Callaghan-Croley

10 wins.

The NIttany Lions should get off to a quick start this upcoming season with their toughest opponent in their first six games being Temple. While Rugters could be a threat, without the leadership of senior quarterback Gary Nova, the Scarlet Knight offense may end up struggling mightily in 2015. Penn State took care of Temple last season in a 30-13 victory and should be able to take care of the Owls in the season opener in easy fashion. Barring a complete collapse of Penn State’s entire team, the Nittany Lions are locks to defeat Buffalo, Army, and Indiana. San Diego State may present a test early but the Nittany Lions should be able to outlast the Aztecs pretty easily.

The Nittany Lions schedule doesn’t get that much harder in the second of the half the season but presents two of the best teams in college football with the Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan State Spartans. Unfortunately for the Nittany Lions, both games take place in Columbus and East Lansing which will make it an even harder to test to defeat the defending National Champions and the Cotton Bowl champions. For the sake of the argument, let’s say the Nittany Lions fail to upset these two powerhouses.  Maryland, Illinois, and Northwestern will all be tough games as the Nittany Lions usually play those three teams closely, despite obvious differences in record and talent. Michigan will present a test and could be considered a toss-up right now but giving the Nittany Lions the home field advantage along with the White Out, should lead to a Penn State victory.