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Urban Meyer says the pressure is on for Penn State football in 2023

Does former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer have a point about James Franklin and Penn State?

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Urban Meyer comments on Penn State football
Oct 28, 2017; Columbus, OH, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin (left) and Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer greet before the game at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

STATE COLLEGE, PA — Recently, former Florida and Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer had some words on the Penn State Nittany Lions. According to the former Buckeye coach — who won a national title and more during his time in Columbus — there is a lot of pressure for James Franklin and his Penn State football team to meet the Nittany Lions’ high expectations this fall.

Penn State football heads into the 2023 season with huge expectations

The past few years have been full of ups and downs for the Penn State football program. After winning the Big Ten in 2016 — the team’s first year back from the sanctions set in 2012 — the Nittany Lions had a solid four-year stretch. From 2016-2019, Penn State football had three 11-win seasons, one 9-win season, won a Big Ten title, and two New Year’s Six bowls. Additionally, the Lions finished ranked in all four seasons, and finished top 10 in three of those seasons.

After going 11-2 and winning the Cotton Bowl in 2019, Penn State slipped into a hole that it took years to climb out of. In Week 1 of the 2020 season, the Nittany Lions fell on the road to Indiana; Penn State’s first loss of 2020 was just one of many disappointing moments that season, which ended up being the Lions’ first losing season under head coach James Franklin.

In 2020, Penn State football started off 5-0 and climbed its way into the top-4 before many key injuries seemingly forced the Lions into a 2-6 finish. Penn State’s 24-10 loss to Arkansas in the Outback Bowl, which dropped the team’s record to 7-6 on the season, was just salt in the wound for many fans. Despite a stellar four-year stretch from 2019-2019, Penn State started the new decade with an 11-11 record though two seasons. That being said, with a young, healthy team in 2022, the Nittany Lions bounced-back against all odds.

In Penn State’s most recent season, James Franklin and his squad came into the year unranked for the first time since 2016. Early-on, it was clear that the 2022 team was special; however, Penn State hit a few road bumps at Michigan and against Ohio State. Despite these two losses — both to CFP teams — Penn State managed to win out and finish 10-2 with an incredibly young roster. The 10-2 record was good enough to send the Lions to the Rose Bowl against No. 8 Utah — Penn State football defeated the Utes 35-21 to snap its top 10 losing streak, bring home another NY6 bowl, and win the program’s second-ever Rose Bowl game to close out the 2022 season.

While this was all great for the program, it also has set some incredibly high expectations heading into 2023.

Urban Meyer claims the pressure is on for the Nittany Lions in 2023

Recently, on The Hard Count (On3), former Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer had some praise, and some added pressure for the Penn State football team heading into a new season this fall. While the Lions may be young, Penn State is experienced, has a veteran coaching staff, and is arguably more talented than just about anyone in the nation with star players like Drew Allar on offense and Abdul Carter on defense.

Here is what Meyer had to say about the Penn State Nittany Lions:

“I think it’s an enormous amount of pressure,” Meyer said on The Hard Count. “… In ’16, they had a great year. They beat us. They have to beat the Wolverines, they have to beat the Buckeyes. I’ll tell you what, they’re loaded. They have two running backs that are elite.

“That quarterback that’s going to take over is tremendous. We got to do several of his games. James Franklin has done a really good job. But he’s got to close the deal and, unfortunately, they’ve got to go to The Horseshoe this year. It’s a tough place to play.”

To Meyer’s point: yes, Franklin has done a great job with turning the Penn State football program back into a winner. That being said, the Nittany Lions need to keep climbing the ladder and get from NY6 status to CFP status eventually, and 2023 is looking like a perfect opportunity. Both Michigan and Ohio State are looking stacked this year; but then again, so are the Nittany Lions.

Like Urban Meyer, many Penn State fans are tired of looking to next year for greater success — it’s time that Penn State football finally breaks through its glass ceiling and reaches the next level.



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Chris Mangum is currently a Penn State student and serves as a writer and editor covering Big Ten athletics. He has served as a beat writer, online reporter, print reporter, and more over the past few years of his career. He currently serves as the managing editor for Basic Blues Nation and others.

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