— Story by PSU Insider Brian Tripp @psuTripp
College Football Playoff Rankings:
For the first time since the end of the 2009 season, Penn State has a top 10 ranking. The latest College Football Playoff rankings were released last night and the Nittany Lions climbed two spots to #10 after debuting at #12 last week. Here are this week’s rankings:
- Ohio State
- Texas A&M
- Penn State
Mahon Injury Status:
Penn State head coach James Franklin declined to provide an update on tackle Brendan Mahon, who left Saturday’s win over Iowa with an unspecified injury in the first quarter. According to the Centre Daily Times, Mahon was admitted to Hershey Medical Center and was listed in stable condition. Penn State athletics confirmed the newspaper’s report.
Mahon’s injury complicates the makeup of Penn State’s revitalized offensive line. The Nittany Lions ended the game with Paris Palmer and Chasz Wright at tackle. Freshman guard Connor McGovern was named the Big Ten’s freshman of the week, becoming just the third offensive lineman to be recognized by the conference and the first since 2004. Franklin said, for now, he anticipates the lineup remaining the same as the conclusion of the Iowa game.
Regardless of personnel, Penn State’s offensive line has shown impressive growth and depth. The addition of former Minnesota offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover has been one of the best offseason hires in college football. Once a weakness, the development of McGovern, left guard Ryan Bates and depth pieces have solidified Penn State’s offense. While concerning, injuries this season do not leave Penn State desperate. In fact, the Nittany Lions may be able to persevere and keep tackle Will Fries redshirted.
While running back Saquon Barkley and quarterback Trace McSorley are getting plenty of much-deserved recognition, the offensive line’s development is quietly the biggest reason for the progress of Joe Moorhead’s offense. After one month of football, the offense lacked an identity. Now, it is one of the most dynamic units in the country.
Friday Night Big Ten Games:
Beginning next season, Big Ten conference teams will be featured on Friday night primetime games on ESPN and FOX. Six games per season over the next six years will air on Friday night. Penn State has agreed to participate in Friday night contests but will not host any Friday games with the possible exception of the Friday after Thanksgiving. Yesterday, the conference announced its six matchups for next season:
September 1 – Washington at Rutgers
September 1 – Utah State at Wisconsin
September 8 – Ohio at Purdue
September 29 – Nebraska at Illinois
October 13 – Northwestern at Maryland
October 27 – Michigan State at Northwestern
Michigan already has denied the conference’s request to participate in any Friday games. While for some fans it will certainly be an adjustment for games outside of a typical Saturday schedule, the exposure created by Friday primetime action benefits the Big Ten. Instead of a matchup of two underperforming Big Ten teams being overshadowed on Saturday afternoons, these six college football matchups will receive increased viewership, even if it is just casual viewership at a sports bar. To help promote the new venture, I was surprised that Penn State or Ohio State did not receive any road games. While a vocal contingent of fans has criticized the conference for expanding to non-Saturday games, the expansion on a limited basis should benefit the league.
Recruiting Rankings & Bowl Game Projections
Each week we’ll update you on where Penn State sits in the latest recruiting rankings. This Saturday’s primetime victory over Iowa once again attracted a lot of visitors. The Nittany Lions are hoping to capitalize on a string of five-straight wins to finish strong in recruiting. Also included are the latest bowl projections for the Nittany Lions with many major outlets now projecting a berth in a New Year’s Six bowl.
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Commitments by Position:
QB – 1
WR – 2
OL – 4
DL – 2
LB – 2
CB – 1
S – 2
Recruiting News Links:
247sports.com examines the impact of the Penn State’s win on guests at Beaver Stadium on Saturday night.
Bowl Game Projections:
CBS Sports (Palm) – Cotton Bowl vs. San Diego State
Sporting News – Citrus Bowl vs. LSU
College Football News – Cotton Bowl vs. Western Michigan
SB Nation – Orange Bowl vs. Louisville
Weekly Award Winners:
Rose Bowl Game Big Ten Player of the Week – Saquon Barkley, RB
Big Ten Freshman of the Week – Connor McGovern, G
Coachingsearch.com Assistant Coach of Week – Matt Limegrover