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Opinion: why I’m a Penn State football pessimist

Penn State football is supposed to be one of the best teams in the nation in 2023; however, I am not sold just yet.



Oct 29, 2022; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin looks on from the sideline during the second quarter against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State football has a ton to look forward to next year. This Football team is arguably the best Franklin has had in his tenure which is impressive considering sanctions were only lifted 8 years prior to this season in 2014. It takes a lot to build a winner. There will be surprises and disappointments along the way, 2016 for example a surprise Big Ten title, 2022 a big surprise with a Rose Bowl victory.

Why I am a Penn State football pessimist

For some including myself the frustration has clouded the success. Generally speaking Penn State football has been better in the last six years than they had been since probably the 1990s. Going to New Year’s Six bowls in 2016, 2017, 2019 and 2023. They won 3 of those 4.

Perhaps it’s Sean Clifford derangement syndrome. Just thinking what could of been. Being No. 4 in 2019, being so close, and then losing to Minnesota in a game Penn State football should’ve won.

Perhaps it’s losing to Ohio State after Saquon takes the opening kick back in 2017 in Columbus; losing after having a double digit fourth quarter lead; losing by a point. Then, in the same year, watching Marcus Allen rough the Michigan State quarterback, only to then give them a first down and win the game. Pain. Just absolute pain.

Perhaps it’s 2018 and having a chance to avenge the loss the following year at home and taking the ball out of Trace Mcsorley’s hands — who was having the game of his life — on a 4th down and 5, only to once again lose by a single point.

Perhaps it was 2019. A week after Penn State comes out and gets the No. 4 ranking in the College Football Playoff, they go and lose to Minnesota on the road.  We’ve seen it all. Through all the glory, those seasons in particular could’ve been way better. We went to New Year’s Six bowls; however, we should’ve been a Playoff team in 2017 and 2019 at least.

And if you’re going to say, “hey man, relax they went to a NY6.” That is settling. That’s putting a bow on a season that should’ve been better. A season where underachievement led to a New Year’s Six bowls with recruiting classes like James Franklin had.

More reasons why

Perhaps it’s 2022 against Ohio State despite a rough go of it PSU has the lead with 8 minutes left. And they lose again. This is why I’m a Penn State pessimist. Beating OSU In 2016 is now ancient history. It’s no more significant than 2005 or 2008. If You want to compete in this league you need to win these games.

Historically, Penn State football has largely choked these opportunities away. So excuse me if I’m hesitant to buy into a James Franklin-coached team being ready to take that next step because that hasn’t happened.

And no, my life isn’t miserable as some love to say. I just want to see Penn State football get to the promised land, and I’m tired of the excuses and settling from the fan base. 10-2 is a great season; however, it’s 3rd place with Michigan and Ohio State, and it’s simply not good enough for me.

This season was great because it was unexpected, and I’m thankful for it and the contributions. But now it’s time to grow up. It’s time for James Franklin to beat an elite team.

2023 will change things?

But hold on a minute, we have a new quarterback next year. I predict he will be really good. He’s got elite written all over him and I called for him all year, but that was largely to get him more experience.

I’m a pessimist, so there is a part of me that worries if he throws 60/40 TDs to INTs the team will be one dimensional and 9-3. There is a faction of the fan base that says he’s going to be perfect. He won’t. There will be bumps and bruises. WVU might be closer than expected . A road game at Illinois might be tough.

It’s not to say I believe it. But you need to prepare yourself for it. Be excited for what HE SHOULD do but understand the expectations are THE HIGHEST they’ve ever been, and Franklin has yet to prove he can beat the elite teams. This season was the only one he didn’t lose to a team like Illinois in 9 OT at home or drop an unexpected one.

This season, in 2023, will be Franklin’s chance to prove me wrong and actually build off the season prior; make it a habit to never have a Franklinesqe loss to a lower team. But understand, my pessimistic attitude is because of past trauma, not recent success.

I’m Looking forward to 2023, and no, I’m not hoping they go 9-3 to prove my point. No, I’m not here to prove anyone right or wrong. The weight of the world is on Drew Allar and James Franklin this year and that is unsettling to me. I certainly hope Penn State football can deliver a Playoff berth and prove me wrong.

Love you all. And I’m ready to be hurt again!


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