The hype for Penn State Football in 2023 seems to be growing daily at this point.
Expectations were already high for Penn State Football in 2023, but the bar may have been raised even more after the latest rankings from ESPN.
ESPN released its early SP+ Projections for the 2023 season on Tuesday and the Nittany Lions were came in at No. 5 on the list. The four schools ahead of Penn State were Georgia at No. 1, Ohio State at No. 2, Michigan at No. 3 and Alabama at No. 4. So, the national champs, two playoff teams from 2022 and an annual powerhouse are the only teams rated higher than Penn State.
Three factors are taken into account by ESPN’s Bill Connelly, who released the projections.
- Returning Production
- Recent Recruiting
- Recent History (Health of the program)
Penn State has plenty of returning production in 2023. Most notably the offensive line, which returns five players who started at least five games last season. The Nittany Lions also bring back their two star running backs in Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen and two veteran pass catchers in wide out KeAndre Lambert-Smith and tight end Theo Johnson.
On defense, the top two edge rushers are back in Chop Robinson and Adisa Isaac. The lethal and improving linebacker duo of Curtis Jacobs and Abdul Carter is also returning, as is star cornerback Kalen King.
The Nittany Lions also brought in three key transfers in cornerback Storm Duck and wide receivers Malik McClain and Dante Cephas. Considering Cephas isn’t technically apart of the team yet, it’s unclear if he was factored into this equation.
The Nittany Lions have also had plenty of recent recruiting success. Penn State had the No. 6 class in the nation in 2022 and the No. 12 class in 2023. With an average class ranking of ninth in the nation the past two cycles, it’s easy to see why Connelly is high on the Nittany Lions there. Keep in mind, former 5-star Drew Allar is expected to be the starting quarterback in 2023. Other young talent is expected to fill other gaps throughout the roster as well.
Penn State is coming off of an 11-2 campaign that resulted in a Rose Bowl victory, so the recent history is also there.
This ranking won’t mean much once the games start, but the expectation is that Penn State football will be a force to be reckoned with in 2023. The one downside is that according to this list, two teams in Penn State’s own division are above the Nittany Lions. Meaning Penn State might be the fifth best team in the country but is still expected to lose twice.
Regardless, Penn State football is poised for a special season in 2023.