STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — This is an important training camp in State College, as Penn State looks to make a move up the pecking order of the challenging Big Ten East. To do that, some key questions must be answered for a program that is finally up to its full allotment of 85 scholarships. [ MORE: Football tour notebook: Fun takes from Penn State practice ] It was a busy offseason for James Franklin and Co., as he overhauled his staff with new coordinators on both sides of the ball. Here are five things I learned at Penn State practice.
This is a big season. James Franklin said as much at Big Ten media days. He knows it’s time to make a move in the Big Ten East after back-to-back 7-6 seasons. The staff has been altered radically, as James Franklin enters what he calls a “pivotal” season. He fired offensive coordinator John Donovan and shockingly saw defensive coordinator Bob Shoop leave for Tennessee. And offensive line coach Herb Hand also high-tailed it, bolting for Auburn. Plus, a raft of players transferred after a season that ended with four losses in a row. Here is what I’ll be watching for
The annual BTN summer football tour is headed to State College, Pennsylvania, so our crew can watch James Franklin's third Penn State team practice.
Big Ten life comes at you fast.
The countdown to the official kickoff of Big Ten football is at 22 days. Fans have become accustomed to hearing names like J.T. Barrett, Desmond King and Jabrill Peppers. How about some young, upcoming stars that Big Ten fans should expect to hear a lot about in this upcoming season? I chatted with several players and coaches, as well as media members at this year’s Big Ten Media Days, asking them about the freshmen that have stood out in practice. I asked about true freshmen just arriving on campus and early enrollees who could be poised to make a big
Saquon Barkley is used to making defenders look silly.
Last week, the Associated Press released their Top 100 college football teams of the past 80 years. A total of seven Big Ten teams landed on the list, highlighted by Ohio State at No. 1 overall. The Buckeyes have ranked in the AP Poll for more weeks than any other team (852) during that span, including the most at No. 1 (105). This got me thinking, who are the best Big Ten teams in recent memory? Obviously, the 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes come to mind in recent memory, but what about before that? I got together with BTN.com senior writer
Going through my Big Ten Mailbag on a hot Friday afternoon. And what do I find? Questions about the 2016 records for Michigan State and Minnesota, among others. And is C.J. Beathard a Heisman contender?
Every coach looks at a schedule, scanning the list of games. Which ones figure to be tough ones? Even more vital: Which stretch of games figures to be the most daunting, a potential make-or-break run of contests? [ MORE: Best chance to pull upset | Best chance to be upset | Toughest non-conference games | Toughest conference game ] I have identified the toughest stretch of games on each Big Ten schedule. Illinois. The last four games are daunting. The season-ending run begins with a visit from Michigan State on Nov. 5 followed by a trip to Wisconsin, a visit
No coach wants to lose a game that experts think he’s supposed to win. Upsets can set a season on its ear and prove ruinous. [ MORE: Best chance to pull upset | Toughest non-conference games | Toughest conference game ] There are potholes on every schedule. And I have picked the one game on your school’s schedule in which it has its best chance to be—gulp–upset. Illinois. The visit from Western Michigan on Sept. 17 is dangerous. P.J. Fleck is an up-and-coming coaching fireball who played at Northern Illinois and is a native of the state. You know the