The Nittany Lions are coming off of an impressive 11-win season, which concluded on January 2nd with a Rose Bowl win over No. 8 Utah. Now, with tons of returning production and rising talent, James Franklin & Co. are looking to replicate and build on their success from the 2022 season, perhaps evening building on it into a Big Ten title and more this fall. While the schedule doesn’t look too tough right now, the 2023 Penn State football schedule is riddled with trap games, starting as early as Week 1.
2023 Penn State football schedule is more dangerous than it may seem
Beginning as early as Week 1, the 2023 Penn State football schedule is filled with trap games. On September 2nd, Penn State will host the West Virginia Mountaineers. While WVU may not pose a significant threat, starting a brand new quarterback against a Power 5 program in the first week of the season will be a challenge. Although Penn State is favored to win, the Lions must come prepared to play.
After Week 1, Penn State will host Delaware before facing trap game number two: an early road test at Illinois. The Nittany Lions last faced Illinois in 2021, and somehow, the Illini came out victorious. The 2023 matchup will be a significant road game for the young quarterback and the team for a few reasons. First, Franklin-coached teams have struggled in road contests. Second, Illinois had a top-3 defense in the nation last year, making them a formidable opponent for rising sophomore Drew Allar.
Hosting Iowa in Week 4 will also pose its own challenges, followed by another major road trip to Columbus to face the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Another trap game to watch will be a road contest at Maryland, who will have a formidable and experienced roster this fall. This game will be played the weekend before Penn State hosts the Michigan Wolverines in State College. The final trap game will be another road test in East Lansing for a Week 13 game against the Michigan State Spartans.
Nittany Lions expected to finish the season 10-2
The ESPN Football Power Index predicts that Penn State football will finish the 2023 season with a 10-2 record, a top 10 ranking, and a New Year’s Six bowl berth, similar to their finish in 2022. This is the minimum expectation for many fans, assuming that the team does not repeat its historical pattern of losing to both Michigan and Ohio State, and can avoid trap games and road upsets.
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