August 19, 2010

Thursday Question: Worst Case Scenario 2010

With a talented roster heading into the 2000 season,
no one expected Penn State to tumble to a 5-7 record.
Is Penn State in store for another rude awakening,
ten years later?
Is it really just two weeks until the first Thursday night college football game? Hard to believe. So now that things are shaping up by the day, we can start piecing together some predictions for the season. After all, we know preseason predictions always turn out true, right?

This is part one of a two-part Thursday Question: Worst case scenario for Penn State in 2010?


The best way to do this is in reverse order. Youngstown State, Kent State, Temple, and Indiana are wins unless something cataclysmic happens. Penn State should beat Illinois and Minnesota or it’s going to be a REALLY bad year. I’ll put Northwestern, Michigan, and Michigan State in the “toss up” pile which leaves Ohio State, Iowa, and Alabama as probable losses. If Penn State loses all three of their toss up games the Nittany Lions could be sitting at 6-6, worst case scenario. But the scenario doesn’t stop with just wins and losses, if PSU does end up .500 there will be wide reaching backlash. For argument’s sake, let’s say Penn State goes 6-6 and Paterno retires. Could you imagine the empty seats in Beaver stadium now that people have to pay an arm and a leg for a ticket and 40 bucks to park in field full of cow shit? I don’t even want to imagine the fallout of that scenario, we’re talking end of times here people! Repent now!


Of course, there's always the possibility of every team going 0-12 in any given season. But that's not what we're talking about. The absolute worst case scenario for Penn State in 2010 is a .500 season. It's not all that unimaginable, however improbable. It will be bad enough if Penn State loses all three big games, and say, at home to Michigan or Michigan State. But what would send this season down the tubes would be all that, plus an inexcusable loss at Minnesota, home against Northwestern, or a first-ever loss to Indiana. Penn State is coming off two really outstanding recruiting classes. If you fielded a team of only this year's underclassmen, it would have a tough time missing out on a .500 record and bowl eligibility. But scarier things have happened at Penn State. One injury along an already sketchy offensive line, the pass protection could go buh-bye. Will Jared Odrick be missed way more than we all think? What if just one or two plays don't happen here or there, costing Penn State a game or two... or three? Those kinds of things happen when a team relies on untested talent at some of the most important positions on the field. So that's it. My absolute worst case scenario for this season is 6-6.


Unfortunately, the worst case scenario isn't that hard to imagine. It basically consists of none of the quarterbacks sort it out, the offensive line never gets it together and the offense is stagnated. Pretty much a repeat of some of the worst aspects of 2003 and 2004, the team will spend nearly three quarters of games on the field defensively because offensively all they can manage are three-and-outs. It will be a season long cock tease where you'll see flashes of potential or maybe even one game where its all put together (i.e. Michigan State 2004) and you scratch your head as to where the hell this was the rest of the year. I don't see any of that coming to pass, but all the ingredients are there.


Worst case scenario for Penn State, I don't even know where to begin. Well obviously that would entail losing to Alabama, Iowa, and Ohio State at the very least. Lets just assume that Evan Royster stays healthy, because God knows what would happen if he were unable to play. But I definitely think it is realistic to foresee him struggling early on to run behind the makeshift offensive line, ala the 2008 season after Levi Brown graduated. A weak offensive line combined with a lackluster linebacking corps could definitely lead to many problems for this team. We already saw what Iowa's running game did to last years defense, and I would not be surprised to see this year's team operate at a notch below. So personally, I think worst case scenario would be 6-6, but 7-5 a more likely possibility.

What's your worst case scenario for Penn State in 2010?

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  1. Worst case, for me, would be 6-6.

  2. Pre-camp, I would have pegged 7-5 as the worst-case scenario: even with a mess at QB, LB, and OL, Penn State still gets big wins against the three cupcakes. Indiana is better than the Indiana of the past, but is still a pretty reliable win for PSU in all but the darkest of years. Illinois, Michigan, and Minnesota are all a mess this year; barring some surprise breakthrough by one of them, those should be counted as wins about as reliably as Temple and Indiana.

    After watching the BTN preview and reading the various insider reports, I might upgrade my worst-case prediction. The LB corps is as strong as ever, and the DL is not far behind; providing the injury bug in the secondary remains mild, we'll have a lock-down defense this year. On offense, the QB race seems to be going well. We've got a special talent in Robert Bolden. Newsome and McGloin may get some of the early starts, but Bolden is going to be tearing it up before too long. The left half of the OL is the only real weakness I'm worried about. Barham is making very good progress at LT, and the LG spot should be at least OK with Pannell or Troutman, but those guys have a way to go before they can handle elite DEs like Marcell Dareus, Adrian Clayborn, and Cameron Heyward.

    Since the team seems to be answering the biggest questions it faced heading into this season, I don't think Michigan State or Northwestern will be able to present a significant threat, especially since both games are in Beaver Stadium. So, the worst-case scenario I see for Penn State this year is three blowout losses in our three big road games, plus one more out-of-nowhere road loss against a sub-.500 Michigan or Minnesota team, for a final record of 8-4.

  3. Great points, John. Although Michigan State should be a very decent team this year. The only thing that really should put that game out of reach for the Spartans is that it's in Beaver Stadium. They dun do well there.

    But 8-4 is totally plausible for a base record to work off of. 7-5 does seem like a record this team could reach in its sleep. Next week, we're going to do best case scenario, so that should be fun, too.

    Thanks to you and JMays for reading and giving some input!

  4. Fred says 9-3 record is worse case senario for the Lions with at least one win from the BIG three; assuming Joe stays the hell out of the play calling business. There is tons of talent/ speed on this team. News flash, big time schools, other than PS win with young /inexperienced QB's if you give them the right chances to succeed. Case in point last years Rose bowl with Colt Mccoy going down early and the true freshman almost pulling off the win. Texas didn't resort to the smash everything up the middle and try not to lose.

  5. 9-3 is pretty optimistic, don't ya think? Considering this is a "worst" case scenario. We'll probably give our overall season record predictions. If that happens, my guess will be somewhere around that nine-win threshold. If this team can do that, I will seriously consider picking them as a legit national title contender in 2011.