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Will This College Football Team Become A Championship Contender?

Updated: Jun 27, 2023

College football is a very "entrenched" sport. Those who are on top typically stay on top. The best teams get the best recruits and keep winning because they have the best players. However, a team slowly builds up a program every few years to become a true powerhouse and continuous contender. Soon, one of these teams will be the Penn State Nittany Lions.

Penn State? Really?

Penn State has been a very consistent program over the last few seasons. This Penn State team has been solid, with four eleven-win seasons within the previous seven years. This is impressive, especially considering the turmoil undergone during COVID-19. But the Nittany Lions are no newcomer to the spotlight. Being a historical program, head coach James Franklin has always been able to lure players to the college football staple since he arrived. Although, there was a reason for the massive drop between the modern-day and the prime teams of LBU in the 80s and 90s.

During the 2010s, Penn State football underwent one of college football's biggest scandals, revolving around former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. The scandal sunk the program, annihilating the positive name of the team for years, often still being made fun of today. But James Franklin has done a spectacular job overcoming that diversity and is now poised to break back into the elites of college football.

Why Is It Different This Year?

Penn State has the best running back duo in the country besides in-division rival Michigan. Running backs Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen tore up college football as true freshmen and now return with a chance to inflict even more pain upon those who get in their way. These two were the main offensive catalysts for the Nittany Lions Rose Bowl victory back in 2022.

Another critical factor is returning offensive lineman Olu Fashanu. Fashanu was projected to be a first-round pick but opted to return for the 2023 season, believing that this Nittany Lions team could shake college football to its core. The now-projected top-ten pick also has an opportunity to lead one of the best offensive lines in college football.

This most significant factor, however, is the new starting quarterback, Drew Allar. The previous starter, Sean Clifford, had been on the team since 2016 and had started since 2018. Allar represents a new coming for Penn State in 2023; with a new signal caller, new things are on the horizon. Allar was the number one ranked quarterback in his class and third best player overall according to 247 Sports, and now the talented sophomore has a chance to be Penn State's true savior.

What Does Penn State Need To Do To Get On Top Of College Football?

Unfortunately for the Nittany Lions, they play in the best division in college football. Alongside other powerhouses, Michigan and Ohio State, the Big Ten East is widely considered the best college football conference. So if PSU wants a shot at the playoff, they have to beat at least one of them and everyone else. Something that James Franklin has never been able to do.

Franklin has had years where he has beaten Michigan and years where he has defeated Ohio State, but never at the same time, and always with at least one more loss to another team. This has kept Penn State out of the playoffs (most noticeably in 2016) and made Penn State fans want Franklin to be gone.

So Franklin will have to do something he has never done, but if he could do it at any time, it is now. An incredibly talented young quarterback, a lethal running back duo, a top-tier offensive line, and a deep group of pass catchers make up the offense, but the defense might be even scarier. Led by projected first-round pick Kalen King and "Chop" Robinson, the Penn State secondary and defensive lines are top ten in the country.

So, Will Penn State Do It?

If James Franklin will ever do it, now is the time. With all the talent on this team and not losing that much after last season, Penn State has a real chance. PSU also gets Michigan, a back-to-back playoff team, at home this year and faces a much different Ohio State team with a new starter at quarterback. The stars have aligned for Penn State to break through finally.

With consistently elite recruiting classes in the top ten and a young core of guys who will likely be there another year, they could become a lasting team. Franklin could seriously do it, so don't be too surprised if you see the Nittany Lions playing in the playoffs come December 31st, 2023, or another year afterward.


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