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Penn State football lands inside preseason top 5 of new poll

Penn State football is regarded by many as one of the top teams in college football for 2023. But this new preseason poll is higher on the Nittany Lions than most.

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Penn State football, preseason top 5, new poll
Nov 12, 2022; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions running back Nicholas Singleton (10) celebrates with offensive linesman Juice Scruggs (70) after scoring a touchdown during the second quarter against the Maryland Terrapins at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Maryland 30-0. Mandatory Credit: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

Expectations for Penn State football in 2023 are about as high as they’ve been in the James Franklin era. Coming off an 11-2 season culminating in a Rose Bowl victory, many expect the Nittany Lions to compete for a Big Ten title and more this fall. Those expectations have thus far been reflected in the early preseason rankings. Penn State has consistently been ranked as a top 10 team in most of the polls released to date. But one new poll is even higher on what James Franklin has this year, ranking Penn State inside its preseason top 5.

New poll ranks Penn State football inside preseason top 5

This week, Austin Mock of The Athletic published his version of the preseason top 25 rankings. Mock’s rating uses modeling that considers play-by-play data from every game in 2022, in addition to returning production, recruiting rankings, and transfers in and out of programs. The model then simulates the outcome of every game in the 2023 college football season. As a result, Mock cautions that his rankings likely won’t align with what you’ll see from the AP or coaches’ poll in August.

With a projection of 9.9 wins in 2023, Penn State is the No. 5 team in this new poll published by The Athletic. The full top 10 is as follows:

  1. Georgia
  2. Alabama
  3. Michigan
  4. Ohio State
  5. Penn State
  6. LSU
  7. Tennessee
  8. Texas
  9. Florida State
  10. USC

What did The Athletic say about the Nittany Lions?

Given that putting Penn State as a preseason top 5 team will likely be one of the diversions from most other polls, Mock specifically addressed the placement in his article.

“They’ll once again boast one of the best defenses in all of America and also one of the more dynamic rushing attacks with Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen,” Mock writes. “If Drew Allar settles in under center, Penn State will also have a well-rounded, explosive offense…If they can find a way to win at least one of the games against Michigan or Ohio State, they should be 11-1 and eyeing their first College Football Playoff berth.”

While a preseason top 5 ranking is a boost for the Nittany Lions, this new poll expresses the same reality that Penn State football fans have faced all offseason. While Penn State has a 15% chance to win the Big Ten, according to Mock’s model, Michigan (34%) and Ohio State (33%) still have better odds to take home the crown.

Saying that all Penn State needs to do is find a way to beat either Ohio State or Michigan makes the task sound much easier than it will ultimately be on the field. But the Nittany Lions boast one of their most talented rosters in the last decade. So, if James Franklin and Penn State can find a way to get over the hump once, they should be sitting pretty for the postseason.



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Matt is a Co-owner and Editor in Chief of Basic Blues Nation. Launched in 2022, Basic Blues Nation is one of the fastest-growing websites covering all Penn State athletics, with over 3.5 million readers in 2023. Matt is also a credentialed member of the Penn State football beat, and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America.

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