The Land of 10 staff will vote on a Big Ten power poll every Sunday during the 2017 college football season. Penn State analyst Tyler Donohue is among 13 voters. He’ll provide his thoughts here each week.
Penn State just put together the most complete performance coach James Franklin has witnessed since arriving in Happy Valley. The Nittany Lions operated at an elite level on offense, defense and special teams throughout a 52-0 victory over Akron on Saturday.
Entering the 2017 season, I viewed Penn State as the most viable threat to win a Big Ten championship. The program’s performance Saturday further reassured this sentiment, though the Nittany Lions landed at No. 2 in Land of 10’s initial Big Ten Power Poll, trailing Ohio State.
Saquon Barkley surpassed 200 total yards on less than 20 touches. The junior running back should be a top contender for Heisman Trophy consideration as the season moves on, but I’m even more impressed by the depth of talent around him.
Tight end Mike Gesicki may be the best player at his position in college football, further evidenced Saturday by a pair of touchdown receptions. Receiver DaeSean Hamilton provides another veteran presence and he is now just 15 catches shy of the program’s all-time career record.
Meanwhile, redshirt sophomore Juwan Johnson is arguably a greater downfield threat than either of those seniors. He led the team in receiving yards Saturday, and the 6-foot-4, 225-pound playmaker has drawn consistent praise from Penn State receivers coach Josh Gattis.
Factor in dual-threat quarterback Trace McSorley and a slew of other offensive weapons, and it becomes easy to forget about a defensive group that appears to be the best of this Franklin era. Penn State is a complete team, showed zero signs of a slow start and claimed the Big Ten title last December.
All due respect to Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes, but why would the Nittany Lions be staring up at any team in Big Ten rankings at this stage?
— Penn State Football (@PennStateFball) September 2, 2017
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