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Penn State Nittany Lions football: Drew Allar era will start with trial by fire

Penn State football is throwing its new quarterback into a whirlwind of tough defenses right off the bat.



Penn State Nittany Lions football, Drew Allar era
© Dan Rainville / USA TODAY NETWORK

It’s finally here, the moment that Penn State Nittany Lions football fans have been eagerly anticipating for years. On September 2nd, in Penn State’s season opener against West Virginia, the Drew Allar era will officially commence in State College. This highly anticipated moment has garnered attention from both Penn State football fans and national media. However, unlike many other quarterbacks around the country, Allar’s first few starts in college will be against some solid programs.

Penn State Nittany Lions football to start the season with a solid test

While the West Virginia Mountaineers may not be the strongest Power 5 program that the Penn State Nittany Lions football team could have scheduled, a Power 5 school with their level of talent is always a formidable opponent for Week 1. Despite having a more talented roster, the Nittany Lions have some depth concerns and young faces, which may prevent them from delivering a perfect performance straight out of the gate.

However, there is good news for Penn State football as they face WVU – the Mountaineers’ defense is not particularly adept at defending the pass. Nevertheless, most coaches would prefer their new starter to have a few “gimme” games before facing a Power 5 team, which will not be the case for the Nittany Lions this fall. Assuming that Penn State football can easily overcome West Virginia, as expected, the team has another challenging test right around the corner in Week 3.

Drew Allar era to face huge early road test in Week 3

After playing their first two games at home against West Virginia and Delaware, the Nittany Lions will face a significant challenge on the road for their Big Ten opener against Illinois. Last season, the Illinois Fighting Illini had a formidable defense that ranked in the top three in total defense and was the top-ranked scoring defense in the nation. Additionally, Illinois had the eighth-ranked passing defense and the 10th-ranked red zone defense in the country. Facing a quarterback in his third start in their stadium is not something that Penn State football should take lightly, especially considering James Franklin’s history of road struggles.

The following week, Iowa will visit Happy Valley. Despite a mediocre 8-5 season in 2022, the Hawkeyes still had a top-two defense in the nation and were statistically the best Big Ten defense on paper. Even the eventual Big Ten champions managed to score only 27 points against Iowa. While Penn State football should win this game, it will be yet another critical early test for Drew Allar in his fourth game as the Nittany Lions’ starting quarterback.

The good news for Penn State football and Drew Allar

The silver lining of Penn State’s challenging first three games is that they are crucial tests for the Nittany Lions to defeat teams like Michigan and Ohio State. Allar will benefit from facing tough defenses early on rather than being caught off guard by the onslaught of pass-rushers and elite defensive backs that the Wolverines and Buckeyes possess. To win its first Big Ten title since 2016, Penn State football must overcome these early challenges to maximize its potential heading into Columbus and before hosting Michigan in State College.

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