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Penn State does not need Drew Allar to be elite to make the CFP

Expectations are high, but Penn State’s new quarterback doesn’t need to be perfect as a sophomore.



Penn State sophomore quarterback Drew Allar
Sep 10, 2022; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Drew Allar (15) runs with the ball while trying to avoid a tackle during the third quarter against the Ohio Bobcats at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Ohio 46-10. Mandatory Credit: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

Over the past six full seasons, Penn State football has seen a great deal of success. The Nittany Lions have finished ranked five times, won 11 games four times, finished in the top 10 four times, won a Big Ten title, won three New Year’s Six Bowls, and more. After going 11-2 a season ago (and finishing the season with a Rose Bowl win), Penn State football is looking for bigger and better from the Lions during the Drew Allar era, which is set to begin on September 2nd later this year.

That being said, Penn State football does not necessarily need its new quarterback to be elite to make noise in the Big Ten and make the College Football Playoff.

Drew Allar needs to play well, but does not need to be elite

Penn State’s Drew Allar comes into this season with some massive expectations — the Nittany Lions’ rising sophomore quarterback is the talk of the town, and after four seasons of Sean Clifford, nearly all Penn State fans are ready for a change in pace.

Still, expectations should not be too high right off the bat for the former No. 1 overall recruit. Sure, Penn State football has an incredibly high ceiling in 2023; however, Allar will be getting his first start against a solid Power Five program (West Virginia) in Penn State’s home opener. I am not saying he won’t player well — I believe that he will be a great quarterback in the Blue and White — what I am saying is that he may need some time to settle into his new role.

If Allar needs a few games to get going — even a year to fully get the hang of things — that is fine, the Nittany Lions can make the playoff with a good quarterback, even if he is not elite right off the bat.

Michigan has not seen elite quarterback play, yet has two CFP appearances

The reason I say that Penn State football only needs to good quarterback is that the Michigan Wolverines have made the playoff twice in a row now; Michigan had relatively average QB play in both seasons. What the Wolverines did well was run the ball, play sounds defense, and avoid small mistakes on specials teams — if Penn State can do the same, the Nittany Lions will be one of the most dangerous programs in the country.

That being said, Penn State does not play football like Jim Harbaugh’s team does; however, heading into the new season, the Lions’ offensive line an elite running back duo may open up a new portion of James Franklin’s playbook. With Manny Diaz coaching another great Penn State defense, the Nittany Lions’ offense will have more breathing room knowing they don’t have to score on every single drive.

Elite quarterback play is not needed to win the Big Ten, but it is needed to win the notional title

I 100% believe that Penn State football can win the Big Ten championship without having an elite quarterback — we have seen other teams in the Big Ten do it in recent years — yet if the Lions want to win a national title, an elite quarterback will be necessary. Let’s use Michigan football as an example again: in 2022, Michigan ran the table in the Big Ten, going a perfect 10-0 in conference games, yet could not overcome the TCU Horned Frogs in the Fiesta Bowl. TCU went on to lose in the national title game, 65-7.

Much of Michigan’s downfall came in the form of turnovers — two pick 6s to be exact — that were thrown by quarterback JJ McCarthy. The lack of an elite quarterback held Michigan back from a national title game appearance a season ago, and it will likely hold Penn State back if the Lions make the CFP. With that said, I am not sure that Allar won’t be elite this year — my point is that he does not need to be elite for Penn State football to make the playoff, but he will need to be elite for the Lions to make a national title game.

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