Roar Lions Roundtable: Predicting Penn State's Most Surprising Win of 2016

By Len Damico on August 29, 2016 at 10:02 am
We're comin' for you, Sparty.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

We're never as confident about how a college football season will play out as we are in August.

We've watched all the practice tape, read all the previews, and think we have a good idea how our squad will do this year. Then, Week One happens, everything is shot to hell, and we realize that predicting the behavior of 18-to-22-year old men is a fool's errand.

With that in mind, we assembled this edition of the Roar Lions Roundtable to answer: Which team that Penn State is "expected" to lose to will the Lions upset? 

Craig Fritz: Michigan State. A win against the Spartans bumps the Lions into a significantly better bowl situation.

Bill DiFilippo: I'm looking right at that Ohio State game and circling it with a red marker. I have no idea if Penn State will win that, game, but if I had to pick a surprise win, it's going to be against a good but young Buckeyes team under the lights in Happy Valley. Depending on how good Iowa is, that Iowa game is ripe for a surprise win, too.

Mike Treb: Michigan. The Nittany Lions catch the Wolverines early in the season, when teams aren’t fully formed. Maybe PSU comes in like a Bunch of Fighters and dumps latex paint on Harbaugh’s khakis.

Kevin Fay: Iowa. There is a chance that Iowa could come in to the Penn State matchup undefeated again, and the Penn State game could come at just the right time. Iowa will be coming off a tough matchup against Wisconsin and will be coming in to the most hostile environment they will play in all year. Penn State will come in motivated to get James Franklin a signature win after close losses to both Michigan and Ohio State and they get it done in front of a sold out Beaver Stadium getting their first November night game.

Tim Gilbert: Michigan State, who I think will be a bit of a disappointment this season.

John Morgan: Michigan State. After the 55-16 drubbing at the hand of the Spartans in 2015, look for Penn State to exact revenge on Dantonio and company.  As previously mentioned, Michigan State has lost many key components from the last few years and this win seems to be more likely than an Ohio State or Michigan win.

Matt de Bear: Michigan State. I really wanted to pick Ohio State here, but with that game coming in late October, it feels like Urban Meyer will have his young team firing on all cylinders by that point. The game a year ago in East Lansing was not close, but it was not the 40 point blow out it seemed either. The Lions will ride a home crowd to a nice cap to the regular season.

Chris Grovich: Ohio State. Swing for the fences, right? The Buckeyes will be visiting Happy Valley for a primetime White Out, one week after a night game at Camp Randall. If ever there was a time to knock off the king, this is it. Ohio State still wins the division at 8-1.

Len Damico: Michigan State comes to Happy Valley this year, and James Franklin certainly hasn't forgotten the ethering they handed his Lions in last year's regular season finale.

Doug Leeson: Penn State will close out the regular season with a win at home against Michigan State. The Spartans will take a step back from their last few elite seasons and, coming off a tough matchup with Ohio State in their penultimate game, will limp into the postseason in Happy Valley. By the end of the season, I think Saeed Blacknall will have emerged as a huge threat at wide receiver (and he'll make up for getting caught on his 77-yard reception against the Spartans last year).

Dan Smith: Ohio State. Saquon Barkley torched them last season, but it ultimately ended up being a blowout loss. Perhaps this season another big performance from Barkley will push the Nittany Lions over-the-top and give James Franklin his first signature win as Penn State's head coach.

Dan Vecellio: Michigan State. I expect Sparty to take a step back this year, especially with Connor Cook now on his way to the NFL. With the added motivation of last year's #BEATEMDOWN, which included a Jack Allen touchdown run, this may be the year to pull out a win against D'Antonio and company. 

Nick Polak: Michigan State. While I don't think beating Michigan is completely out of the question since they'll still be breaking in a new quarterback, I think James Franklin finally gets over his big game hump and takes down the Spartans in 2016. Expect to see Penn State force Sparty to stop the run with superstar-in-the-making Saquon Barkley, and another possible star in Miles Sanders (who will have plenty of game experience by the time the regular season finale comes around).

Sean Baker: If the offense improves ever so slightly from the previous two seasons, Michigan State should be well within striking distance for this Penn State team, especially at home to close out the season. I feel oddly comfortably with this pick, too.

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