Midseason stock up, stock down: Where PSU opponents are trending
Penn State Nittany Lions football has reached the halfway point of its regular season, sitting at 5-1 after losing on the road to Iowa.
The bye week offers us a chance to evaluate our perceptions of the Nittany Lions, and, by extension, their opponents so far this season, who we know much more about at the season's halfway point.
Stock way down
The Badgers entered their season opener with the Nittany Lions as one of the top-15 teams in the country, and now they're under .500 through the first give games on their schedule, with their only wins coming via Eastern Michigan and a pitiful Illinois team. Wisconsin lost to Notre Dame 41-13 in Chicago, and fell to Michigan 38-17 at home. Quarterback Graham Mertz is a problem, not an asset, with two touchdowns and seven picks to his name.
Stock slightly down
Ball State is 3-3 so far on the season, and off to a 1-1 start within a MAC conference it was projected to win preseason. The Cardinals can claim a very nice win over Army, which works in their favor, but they lost 22-12 at home to Toledo, an in-division opponent. They'll have to turn things around and rely on some help elsewhere if they want to get back to the MAC title game.
Auburn fell out of the top-25 this week after a loss to Georgia but my view of them hasn't necessarily changed because, well, there are only a few teams in the country that wouldn't take a beating from the Bulldogs at the moment. Auburn nabbed a nice road win at LSU two weeks ago. The Tigers sit at 4-2 for the season overall with a road game against No. 17 Arkansas on tap for this Saturday. Win that and they should return to the top-25, if not the top-20.
The Wildcats claimed a massive win in FCS land last weekend, winning on the road at No. 3 James Madison 28-27. Penn State remains the only loss on the season for the 4-1 Wildcats, who sit at No. 6 in the polls heading into a game with Albany this week.
Stock way down
The Hoosiers are among the bigger disappointments in college football to this point. After entering the season ranked, they currently sit at 2-3 with their wins coming against Idaho and Western Kentucky. All three of their losses have come against top-10 teams, but Indiana hasn't been particularly competitive in any of them, losing by an average of 22 points in those three contests. With three more top-10 opponents coming in their next seven games, the Hoosiers have a difficult road ahead of them toward becoming bowl eligible.
By virtue of beating the Nittany Lions after they lost their starting quarterback in Sean Clifford, Iowa can now dream about the College Football Playoff. The Hawkeyes are the No. 2 team in the country and do not have another ranked opponent remaining on their schedule this season. Anything but an appearance in Indianapolis for the Big Ten title game would be a massive disappointment for Kirk Ferentz and his team.
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