Where does Penn State go from here?

By Tom Fornelli | College Football Writer
Bill O'Brien follows his team to the locker room following Penn State's opening loss. (US Presswire)

If there's anything positive for Penn State fans to take away from the Nittany Lions loss to Ohio on Saturday it's that at least the problems are once again taking place on the football field. Compared to where things have been since the Jerry Sandusky scandal first broke, that's a victory.

Penn State's schedule
DateOpponent
Sep. 1Ohio (L, 24-21)
Sep. 8@Virginia
Sep. 15Navy
Sep. 22Temple
Sep. 29@Illinois
Oct. 6Northwestern
Oct. 20@Iowa
Oct. 27Ohio St.
Nov. 3@Purdue
Nov. 10@Nebraska
Nov. 17Indiana
Nov. 24Wisconsin

Unfortunately, it's hard to be sure how many more victories there will be in State College this season. Yes, Saturday's loss may have been an upset, but it wasn't all that unexpected either. Not only is Penn State implementing a new system and coaching staff for the first time since 1966 but it also lost a lot of talented players after the NCAA hit it with sanctions.

Looking at the rest of the schedule, it's hard to figure out just how successful Bill O'Brien's first season can be.

The Nittany Lions will now hit the road to take on a Virginia team that won eight games in 2011 and has a strong defense. Considering the struggles that Penn State continued to show on offense against Ohio -- only 352 yards and 14 points, including only 130 yards and 0 points in the second half -- it's hard to see the Nittany Lions finding much success in Charlottesville.

After that the Lions return home to play a Navy team that should provide a win, but that game is followed by Temple. Last season, before Hurricane Sandusky hit State College, Penn State was barely able to eek out a 14-10 win against the Owls.

After that it's a conference slate that features Illinois, Iowa, Purdue and Nebraska on the road, and Northwestern, Ohio State, Indiana and Wisconsin in Not-So-Happy Valley. In recent seasons you could look at that schedule and see four, maybe even five guaranteed victories.

This season?

This season there are no guarantees. If the Nittany Lions can't beat Ohio -- which is a good team, but it's still a MAC team and this was still at Beaver Stadium -- then all bets are off.

What was a long offseason could become an even longer season.

 
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