Citrus Bowl Football

Penn State head coach James Franklin slaps hands with players, including offensive lineman C.J. Thorpe (69) as they come off they find during the first half of the Citrus Bowl NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019, in Orlando, Fla.

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Before the start of Illinois football's training camp on Aug. 2 in Champaign, beat writer BOB ASMUSSEN is counting down the top 50 teams heading into the 2019 college football season:

No. 14: Penn State

Coach: James Franklin

2018 record: 9-4

Projected 2019 record: 9-3

Circle the date: Nov. 23 at Ohio State

Bowl trip: Outback

Why No. 14: Trace McSorley moved on to the NFL, leaving the quarterback job for sophomore Sean Clifford. The other option would have been Tommy Stevens, but he transferred to be with his former coordinator, Joe Moorhead, at Mississippi State. ... Franklin has averaged nine wins his first five seasons. ... Receiver KJ Hamler caught 42 passes his freshman year for 754 yards and five touchdowns. ... Tight end Pat Freiermuth is a touchdown machine, scoring eight times last season. ... The strength of the defense will be up front, where end Yetur Gross-Matos will look to improve his eight-sack season. ... Penn State plays all three nonconference games at home, including against rival Pitt. In the Big Ten, the Nittany Lions host Michigan and play at Ohio State, Iowa and Michigan State.

Last year’s ranking: No. 6