At the start of each week, Land of 10 will break down the postseason implications, and projections, to come out of the Penn State Nittany Lions’ latest contest …
What happened: The Lions (3-0) clobbered Georgia State, 56-0, to close out a dominant nonconference run in September. Penn State outscored Akron, Pittsburgh and the Panthers by a total of 141-14 — the most points a Lions side has scored after three games since the 2008 Big Ten champions put up 166 on Coastal Carolina, Oregon State and Syracuse.
What it means: In the big picture? Not much. During Big Ten Cupcake Week, Georgia State was among the softest and fluffiest of them all, as quarterback Trace McSorley threw for 309 yards and 4 scores, including an 85-yard touchdown toss to Saquon Barkley. Eight different Lions scored, which was the point of the exercise — get a big lead, get some young guys some valuable reps, and stay healthy going into league play. The last one might not have landed on both feet, as Barkley left the rout for a spell in the second quarter because of a stomach bug, and starting defensive end Torrence Brown was felled with what appeared to be a right knee injury in the first quarter and had to be carted off the field.
Projected record: Massey Ratings — 10-2; TeamRankings.com — 10-2
Projected postseason destination: Orange Bowl, Dec. 30, Miami Gardens, Fla., vs. an ACC opponent.
Cheapest seat at TicketCity.com as of Sunday: $165.
Up next: at Iowa on Saturday in the Big Ten opener for both schools. The Hawkeyes (3-0) coughed and sputtered in the first half at Kinnick Stadium against North Texas this past Saturday before pulling away with a 31-14 victory. The Lions own a three-game winning streak over Kirk Ferentz but haven’t won back-to-back visits to Iowa City since 1993 and 1995. The Hawkeyes are physical but also a little beat up — star tailbacks Akrum Wadley (right ankle) and James Butler (right elbow) left the North Texas game with injuries, although neither are assumed to be serious. Kinnick in prime time can be a buzzsaw, as Jim Harbaugh will attest, but if you’re chasing something big, something historic, these are the kind of mountains you have to climb to hit the peak. Saturday night could either cement Penn State in the College Football Playoff picture — or torpedo the Lions entirely.