This will be the last season where the Big Ten Conference will have the East and West divisions. As we move into the 2024 season with the addition of UCLA and USC there is no guarantee that Penn State will play Michigan and Ohio State in the same year beyond the 2023 season.
In 2024 Penn State will not play Michigan and in 2025 they will not play Ohio State. These two games have been the make-or-break point for the Nittany Lions for as long as they have realigned the Big Ten conference into the Big Ten East and Big Ten West.
During the 2023 season, this will be the last time this hurdle stands in front of the Nittany Lions’ season goals. I for one want Penn State to go out as winners, to be able to beat Ohio State and Michigan in the same season and control their destiny. They certainly have the talent to do that this season.
The reason why I am focused on these two teams is Carter Bahns of 247sports has recently ranked his top 5 games for the 2023 season. Penn State has 2 of the top 5 games on this list.
These two games are going to be very competitive. If this is the year where Penn State can walk into the Horseshoe and knock off Ohio State it has to be this year. By the time Penn State plays Ohio State their new quarterback Devin Brown or Kyle McCord will be hitting their stride. However, Penn State has the defensive front, the run game, and hopefully, by then the QB play with Drew Allar to beat the Buckeyes. Regardless of the outcome, this game always has college football fans on the edge of their seat for all 4 quarters.
As far as the Michigan game goes, it’s in November and this game could potentially be for a spot in the Big Ten Championship. What works in Penn State’s favor is that it’s a home game. After the embarrassing defensive effort shown last season, Manny Diaz should have no issues firing up this defensive unit for this re-match. If the Nittany Lions can contain Michigan’s run game and by this point in the season have an established offensive system this has game-of-the-year potential written all over it.
Another season where the two biggest games of the season come down to Ohio State and Michigan, but in 2023 I believe Penn State has the horsepower to compete with both teams.