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Predicting the 2013 Penn State football schedule

It's the third team in my personal run through each of the schedules in the Big Ten for 2013. So far we've tackled Northwestern and Iowa. Today of course, we introduce our first Leaders division team and it's one of the most talked about teams over the past two years. 

However, the question is… What do we make of this 2013 Penn State team? There is plenty of talent, but the harshest parts of the NCAA sanctions are beginning to take hold. Can PSU win more than they lose, or will they struggle without the leadership and "magic in a bottle" moment that was the 2012 season. 

Thankfully for you, I've got it all figured out. So, here is exactly how Penn State's 2013 season will go down – you don't need to look any further. 

2013 Schedule:

Date   Opponent Time/TV
Saturday

Aug. 31
Orangemen Syracuse Orange 

MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
3:30 p.m. ET

ABC/ESPN2 (RM)
Saturday

Sept. 7
Eagles Eastern Michigan Eagles 

Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA
12:00 p.m. ET

BTN/BTN2Go
Saturday

Sept. 14
Knights UCF Knights

Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA
6:00 p.m. ET

BTN/BTN2Go
Saturday

Sept. 21
Golden Flashes Kent State Golden Flashes 

Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA
TBA
Saturday

Sept. 28
Open Date
Saturday

Oct. 5
Hoosiers at Indiana Hoosiers 

Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, IN
TBA
Saturday

Oct. 12
Wolverines Michigan Wolverines (HC)

Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA
5:00 p.m. ET

ESPN or ESPN2
Saturday

Oct. 19
Open Date
Saturday

Oct. 26
Buckeyes at Ohio State Buckeyes 

Ohio Stadium, Columbus, OH
8:00 p.m. ET

ABC/ESPN/2 TBA
Saturday

Nov. 2
Fighting Illini Illinois Fighting Illini 

Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA
TBA
Saturday

Nov. 9
Gophers at Minnesota Golden Gophers 

TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
TBA
Saturday

Nov. 16
Boilermakers Purdue Boilermakers 

Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA
TBA
Saturday

Nov. 23
Cornhuskers Nebraska Cornhuskers 

Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA
TBA
Saturday

Nov. 30
Badgers at Wisconsin Badgers 

Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, WI
TBA

My Predictions:

Aug. 31 - vs. Syracuse (MetLife Stadium): WIN
Syracuse is going through a lot of change and so to are the Nittany Lions, however if you put $1 million in front of me I couldn't name a single Syracuse defensive player off the top of my head. I can name more than one PSU defensive player and that's the difference in this game. Penn State has the better defense and going up against a team working in a new QB along with a new coaching staff means it could be a field day for that Nittany Lions D. Give me PSU in a "closer than the experts think" type pick.

Sept. 7 – vs. Eastern Michigan: WIN
As if I should need to explain this one to you at all…. But, since that's what I'm paid to do…. here goes nothing. EMU hasn't had a single winning season of football SINCE 1989. Over the past decade the Eagles' record is 29-89 or put even more brutally, they've got a .245 winning percentage over the past 10 years. However, the Eagles did get to 6-6 just two seasons ago. Point being this is a mismatch and if Penn State can't win this game its going to be a massively disappointing season.

Sept. 14 – vs. UCF: WIN
Speaking of "closer than the experts think," we give you the UCF Knights. While this game is at home, don't sleep on George O'Leary's guys. Too bad I think they are a year away from truly challenging Penn State. So, if you travel to Ireland for this matchup next year I think you'll be in for a very intriguing matchup. This season it should be the Nittany Lions winning in Beaver Stadium. If it doesn't happen… expect it to be because PSU hasn't gotten consistent QB play.

Sept. 21 – vs. Kent State: WIN
Kent State was really freaking good last season. However, that was last season and this year they're breaking in a new head coach as Darrell Hazell is off to fellow Big Ten team, Purdue. Add in the fact that no matter how good KSU is going to be they'll be on the back end of back-to-back games against LSU and PSU and  you have the recipe needed for a bigger win than some think. Expect Penn State to torch the Golden Flashes in this game.

Oct. 5 – at Indiana: LOSS
If there is a darling sleeper pick in the Big Ten this season, it is the Hoosiers. They have arguably the most explosive offense in the conference not named Ohio State and they also have an ever improving defense. In fact, one could easily argue this game is all about opposites butting heads. The question is who wins out in a battle of better offense vs. better defense. Give me the Hoosiers to take this one, especially since this is the first true road game the Nittany Lions will play. Indiana is just too good not to take care of business against teams they are on the same level as (and YES I JUST SAID THAT PSU FAN).

Oct. 12 – vs. Michigan: WIN
So, on the heels of losing to Indiana, of course I'd pick them to beat a pick to win the Legends division, right? Well, that's exactly how I see this going and it's because I think PSU's defense is much more capable of keeping up with anything the Maize 'N Blue's offense can throw at them – especially in the WR vs. DB area. I also think the running game of Penn State will be in full swing and that means PSU can control the clock and limit possessions as well. This could be a low scoring affair, but in Happy Valley it'll be the Nittany Lions winning.

Oct. 26 – at Ohio State: LOSS
Yes, Penn State and Wisconsin have won the same amount of games against OSU in the past decade… At least on the field (lets remember all those wins are vacated according to the NCAA record book). However, this Ohio State team isn't the OSU team of two or three years ago. It's loaded up front on each side of the ball and has this guy named Braxton Miller, who's a top contender for the Heisman Trophy this season on it. Add in this game being in Columbus and it being the first trip there for whomever is going to start for PSU and it all doesn't look good against Ohio State. Ummm…. of course with logic like that watch Penn State destroy OSU.

Nov. 2 – vs. Illinois: WIN
O.k., so after a rough stretch against Michigan and OSU in a three week span Penn State gets a break if you will. This is perhaps the 2nd biggest no-brainer pick on the PSU schedule. Illinois has some decent parts on their team (i.e. Nathan Scheelhaase, Jonathan Brown, and Mason Monheim), but those parts aren't enough to save them from a butt-kicking in Happy Valley. Expect Penn State to take out any anger over what happened over the last three weeks in this one.

Nov. 9 – at Minnesota: WIN
Minnesota is getting better and getting better fast, but not good enough – especially in the secondary to hang with what Penn State can literally throw at them. However, this is for the Governor's Victory Bell and since PSU had to vacate all it's wins in this series in recent memory Minny should technically hold the trophy. Anyway, this game hasn't been played since 2010, so it will be interesting to see how two completely new coaching staffs deal with a rivalry that hardly anyone on either roster has been around for. Give me PSU in a close game, just like this series is close (currently standing at 4-3 in favor of Minnesota thanks to the vacated W's by Penn State). 

Nov. 16 – vs. Purdue: WIN
This game scares me and that's because we just don't know what Darrell Hazel's crew will look like by this point in the season and we also don't know how bad the depth of PSU will be depleted. Besides, Ross-Aide isn't exactly a hospitable place for opposing teams – just ask Ohio State about that. However, in 2013 it appears on paper that this is a mismatch as Penn State can do multiple things offensively that could really stretch thin the Boilers defense. Look for the running game to be key in this one as Zwinack has his best game of the season and Penn State gets out of Ross-Aide with a W.

Nov. 23 – vs. Nebraska: LOSS
Not gonna happen, just that simple here. Sure, this game is in Happy Valley and that's advantage Penn State, but give me Taylor Martinez, Ameer Abdullah and the best wide receiver corp in the conference over anything PSU can throw at them. I also expect Nebraska's defense to be a lot better than people think, especially by this point in time of the season. 

Nov. 30 – at Wisconsin: LOSS
It's a shame these two teams won't be playing each other in the same division anymore because they've given Big Ten fans some of the most memorable football games over that past few seasons. The games are always competitive and as last year proved, you can't really predict what will happen down the stretch. However, Wisconsin is a senior laden and loaded team. It appears the secondary is looking better than people thought earlier this summer and that backfield is simply scary. Wisconsin also has the better defense all around and it's at Camp Randall with the Badgers likely needing a W to stay in the Big Ten title hunt. They'll get it over a game PSU team though.

Overall Record: 8-4
Conference Record: 4-4
Final Analysis: Most look at this team and all that is lost and happening around it and think this is the year they go down the drain. I just don't see that happening, especially given the way their schedule shapes out. They'll be favored to win their first four games right off the bat and even if they go 3-1 at worst this is a schedule wholly made for them to gain some confidence in the middle of the Big Ten schedule. If they can pull off one of their home games against Michigan or Nebraska this team is really going to be a noise maker in the Big Ten title race as well. Expect this team to have at least the same record as last year at a minimum.

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college football for nearly half a decade. He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadgers.com and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, 32flags.com

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