Coach: James Franklin

2021 record: 7-6

Projected 2022 record: 8-4

Circle the date: Oct. 29 vs. Ohio State

Bowl trip: Music City

Why No. 26: If the Nittany Lions challenge for the top in the loaded East, it will fall mostly on the arm of quarterback Sean Clifford. He threw for 3,108 yards with 21 touchdowns and eight picks in '21. Solid numbers, but not the ones that will be needed for Penn State to climb....

Clifford has countless weapons at receiver and tight end, starting with Parker Washington who had 64 grabs in '21. The offensive line needs three new starters to help a unit that allowed the most sacks in the Big Ten.... Freshman Nick Singleton could provide a spark at tailback. ... New defensive coordinator Manny Diaz must find five new starters. End Adisa Isaac returns from injury and will help. ... Defensive back Ji'Ayir returns after a six-interception season. ... The Nittany Lions have two difficult tests in the first month, playing at Purdue and Auburn. Big Ten West favorites Iowa and Wisconsin aren't on the schedule.

Bob Asmussen can be reached at 217-393-8248 or by email at

College Football Reporter/Columnist

Bob Asmussen is a college football reporter and columnist for The News-Gazette. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@BobAsmussen).

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