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Penn State National Championship Game Odds
For the Penn State Nittany Lions the 2019 season was another sign of progress under head coach James Franklin. The Nittany Lions finished 11-2 straight up, 7-6 against the spread and with a final national ranking of ninth in the country. A 53-39 Cotton Bowl win over Memphis was the perfect capper to the third season out of four in which the Nits ranked ninth or better in the country. Offensively the 2019 Nittany Lions were a team in transition with new redshirt junior starting quarterback Sean Clifford. A defense that ranked seventh best in the nation for points allowed was the bedrock of the team.
2020 Penn State Nittany Lions at a Glance
National Championship Odds: +2811
James Franklin has restored the roar of Penn State fans after taking over a program trying to find its feet just three years after controversial but legendary Joe Paterno was fired for his lack of oversight in the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal that rocked the nation and college football world. Franklin is known as a dynamic recruiter but is often panned for his in-game management. However, the Nittany Lions have won 11 games in three of their last four seasons with the lone exception being a 9-4 campaign. Overall, that is an impressive mark of 42-11 over the last four years. Franklin is not shy about continuous improvement of his program. He will start the 2020 season with a new offensive coordinator, Kirk Ciarrocca, who arrives from a vastly improved Minnesota Golden Gophers program. With eight starters back on offense along with five on defense and a home date against Ohio State there is opportunity for more in 2020.
2020 Penn State Nittany Lions Schedule
Week 1: Saturday, September 5, Kent State Golden Flashes
Week 2: Saturday, September 12, at Virginia Tech Hokies
Week 3: Saturday, September 19, San Jose State Spartans
Week 4: Saturday, September 26, Northwestern Wildcats
Week 5: Saturday, October 3, at Michigan Wolverines
Week 6: Bye Week
Week 7: Saturday, October 17, Iowa Hawkeyes
Week 8: Saturday, October 24, Ohio State Buckeyes
Week 9: Saturday, October 31, at Indiana Hoosiers
Week 10: Saturday, November 7, at Nebraska Cornhuskers
Week 11: Saturday, November 14, Michigan State Spartans
Week 12: Saturday, November 21, Maryland Terrapins
Week 13: Saturday, November 28, at Rutgers Scarlet Knights
2020 Penn State Nittany Lions Regular Season Preview
Ciarrocca will blend some ingredients from his Minnesota attack to a Penn State offense that did average 36 points per game in 2019.
Sean Clifford had a solid first season as starter with a quarterback rating of 148.5 with 2654 yards passing and a 23/7 touchdown to interception ratio. He added a respectable 402 yards on the ground with five touchdowns. Clifford was at his best against weaker teams but with a full year as starter under his belt a more complete 2020 campaign is a realistic expectation.
The big star on offense was running back Journey Brown. As a first-year starter and junior Brown ran for 890 yards, 6.9 yards per carry, with 12 touchdowns. Brown was instrumental in keeping defenses honest while relieving pressure and burden from Clifford.
Junior wide receiver Jahan Dotson leads a thin corps for that position. Last year Dotson showed good playmaking ability with 18.1 yards per catch on 27 receptions for 488 yards and five touchdowns. Taylor Stubblefield is yet another new assistant coach that will oversee the unit.
New offensive line coach Phil Trautwein will have five players with experience coming back for 2020.
Although the defense will have six new starters this is where Franklin’s strong recruiting should pay dividends. Linebacker and game wrecker Michah Parsons will spearhead the unit. Last year Parsons totaled 109 tackles and earned All-America honors as a sophomore.
Linebacker is a Penn State tradition but the secondary was not good in 2019 and must dramatically improve if the Lions are to make a serious Big Ten run.
Kickers Jake Pinegar and Jordan Stout combined for reliable field goals. Stout was used for long range attempts to complement Pinegar’s short range accuracy.
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