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College Football Analysis: Will Penn State be Able to Beat Nebraska, Ohio State and Wisconsin?

Penn State may have an off week to rest up, self-evaluate and prepare for an interesting second half of the season, but there is no rest for the trusty members of the Blue White Roundtable. This week we continue with our weekly look at the state of the football program, with questions supplied by Black Shoe Diaries.

Shame on me for not introducing the other members of the round table in previous editions. The members of the Blue White Roundtable are:

Black Shoe Diaries
JoePa's Doghouse
The 50-Yard Lion (via PennLive)

Be sure to check out Black Shoe Diaries later for a full round-up.

1. Northwestern always plays Penn State tough, and this year was no exception. Which of the last three meetings was most memorable and why?

This most recent victory was thrilling on so many levels, with a wild fourth-quarter comeback when it seemed all hope was lost, but if we are just looking at the three most recent meetings I still have to rank the 2010 game on top based solely on the historical significance of the outcome. Down three scores late in the first half, the way Penn State drove down field in the final minute to spark the rally that would eventually hand Joe Paterno his 400th career victory was in itself something special.

Let's dig in to the digital archives...

2. Who are your offensive and defensive MVPs through the first half of the season?

On offense it is incredibly easy to suggest Matt McGloin has been the most valuable player. That's because he has been the most valuable player. McGloin has bought in to the offensive philosophy and prepared himself for the job as much as possible, and the results have been clear. McGloin has been more dependable in throwing and protecting the football, and he has even shown the ability to take the ball and run with it when needed inside the red zone.

On defense you can have your pick of Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti. Both have been fantastic this season with what they have done on the field. I'll give a slight edge to Mauti based solely on his clear role as a leader of this team through difficult times. Overcoming a pair of ACL injuries and with those strong family ties to the program, I get a feel he is playing with a little more inside him with something to prove this season.

3. Is this team where you expected them to be after six games?

Going in to the season I felt Penn State was more than capable of winning seven or eight games even with the transfers but I had questions about how well the offense would come together. I figured if anything would hold them back, that would be it. But I think the offense has developed nicely and continues to evolve and see young players find their roles in it. Losing two games still seems like a surprise to me but if those games in weeks one and two were replayed I would feel confident in Penn State's ability to pull them out, although Ohio is clearly a pretty decent team.

While I still feel the record is a bit short of what I would have expected at this point, Penn State is still on track for the type of season I had predicted, and possibly even better.

4. Given what we've seen up to this point, what's your prediction for the rest of the way?

Looking at the second half of the season I see some potential trouble coming up. A road trip to Nebraska could be really difficult, although the Huskers have certainly shown to be vulnerable this season. And Ohio State looks pretty fierce under Urban Meyer with Braxton Miller killing teams on the ground, but the Buckeyes come to State College and I think that could level the playing field. The Wisconsin game at the end does not look nearly as scary as it may have at the beginning of the season.

I think Penn State will take a couple of lumps in the second half of the year (upset alert at Purdue) but I anticipate them being able to compete in every game without question. The more wins Bill O'Brien can pile up though, the easier it may be to keep things together in the off-season and in recruiting.

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