Originally written on Nittany Lions Den  |  Last updated 11/7/14

 

Don’t look now but the prospects for the 2012 Penn State football season look a lot brighter.

That’s what back-to-back wins will do.

Yes, the wins were over Navy and Temple but tell that to the players, coaches and fans that marched out of Beaver Stadium Saturday. After losing the lead to Ohio in the opener and falling to Virginia in the worst possible way, any win would be a good one.

Combine that with the predictions such as Lee Corso’s, “they’ll be lucky to win three games all year,” and, well, back-to-back wins must feel pretty good.

But it’s more than just the final scores.

Look how this team has played. The Nittany Lions have dominated the last three games. No, they didn’t win at Virginia but they clearly should’ve. They were never threatened by Navy or Temple in games they were anything but perfect.

This team has been dominant while still showing room for improvement – and it would be surprising if it doesn’t continue to improve throughout the season.

The strides Penn State has made since Labor Day weekend are vast. Quarterback Matt McGloin continues to look better. The receiving corps is more impressive each week and the running game, amazingly, looked solid against the Owls.

That’s a running game without Bill Belton, without Derek Day and without Curtis Dukes.  Michael Zordich and Zach Zwinak combined to grind out yardage all day. The offensive line continually opened holes. Imagine when a healthy Belton returns to the lineup.

On the other side of the ball, the defense continues to excel. It’s hard to imagine this group falling apart.

Are there concerns in the secondary? Yes, but it will take a quality passing game to exploit them.

Which brings us to another reason for Penn  State fans to have significant hopes that their team will far exceed three wins.

The Big 10 schedule.

Okay, so some may pooh-pooh back-to-back wins over Temple and Navy but did anyone take a look at some of these early season results?

Oregon State 10, Wisconsin 7. Or maybe you’re impressed with the Badgers’ 16-14 win over Utah State or the 26-21 victory over Northern Iowa.

Central Michigan 32, Iowa 31. Iowa State 9, Iowa 6.

Or maybe you were impressed with the Hawkeyes’ big 18-17 victory over Northern Illinois.

How about this one from Saturday? Louisiana Tech 52, Illinois 24.

Umm, Penn State travels to Illinois for its Big 10 opener next week. Throw in the fact that Illini coaches angered many in the program by having six coaches hanging out on Penn State players doorsteps in August trying to recruit them and I’m doubting that the Lions won’t be ready to play.

The point is that the Penn State conference schedule isn’t all that scary. No, the Lions probably won’t go 10-2, but it’s doubtful they’ll go 3-9 either – despite what many think and hope.

A winning season is a legitimate goal and, right now, there is no reason that Penn State and its fans shouldn’t feel optimistic heading into the Big 10 conference schedule.

Marty Valania covers football for nittanylionsden.com. Follow him @EastRecruiting on Twitter.

MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Family searching for missing Ohio State football player

CM Punk opens up about leaving WWE, says he'll never return

Manny Pacquiao responds to Floyd Mayweather diss

Australian cricket player dies from head injuries

Wrigley Field bleacher renovation may be delayed

Yankees wanted Rollins but Phillies' price was too high

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Pop misses game for medical reasons; Messina takes over

John Beilein upset with ESPN for late start time to game

Tyson Chandler felt like Knicks' scapegoat at times

Fred Jackson has 'no respect' for Donte Whitner

Devon Still responds to unpaid child support allegations

Diamondbacks sign Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas

Things to be thankful for in the NBA this season

Eric Berry sends out Thanksgiving message

WATCH: Ronda Rousey talks about Eminem referencing her

WATCH: Dwayne Harris dirty hit on Nolan Carroll sparks fight

Steelers turned down chance to be called 'America's Team'

Report: Small chance Raiders-Rams could be moved to Indy

Todd Gurley begins rehab after surgery on knee for torn ACL

Brodeur to practice with Blues

OSU player posts Michigan player's girlfriend as his 'WCW'

Jim Harbaugh's family may not eat turkey thanks to NBC

Ole Miss' The Grove threatened by Mississippi State fan

Is it time for the Redskins to move on from Robert Griffin III?

College Football News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

WATCH: Ronda Rousey talks Eminem

CM Punk opens up about leaving WWE

Wrigley renovation may be delayed

Steelers could have been America's Team

John Beilein upset with ESPN

Should Washington move on from RG3?

Dominic Raiola fined for cheap shots

Rose leaves with injury again

WATCH: Pierce signs for fan during game

Report: McCoy to start over RG3

Braxton Miller headed to Oregon?

Game of the week: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Denver Broncos

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.