Although the game is still nine months away, it’s never too early to look ahead to the Pitt-Penn State game.
Considering the final score of this year’s game and the fact that this is likely the last game between the two schools for awhile, Pitt will have plenty of extra motivation when they make the trip to Happy Valley.
It’s way to early to try and determine who will be the favorite to win the game but we do know that James Franklin’s depth chart is going to look nothing like the one he worked with in 2018.
There’s been a steady stream of news out of Happy Valley, with a handful of players deciding to leave the program.
Defensive tackle Kevin Givens, defensive end Shareef Miller and offensive lineman Connor McGovern and Ryan Bates announced they’d be leaving school early to enter the 2019 NFL Draft. Also, redshirt sophomore linebacker Dae’Lun Darien decided to transfer in order to be closer to his family.
This morning, former Woodland Hills star running back Miles Sanders also decided to take his talent to the pros.
The program is awaiting word on whether WR Juwan Johnson and OL Steven Gonzalez will also decide to leave early for the NFL.
Penn State already knew that the Citrus Bowl would be the final college game for seniors QB Trace McSorley, CB Amani Oruwariye, Chasz Wright, S Nick Scott, LB Koa Farmer and WR DeAndre Thompkins. Not counting Sanders, Johnson and Gonzalez, Franklin will be looking to replace 27 players that made contributions to a program that has won 30 of their last 39 games.
This is not to suggest that Pitt will have a huge advantage in this game because Penn State’s roster will still be littered with 4 and 5-star recruits albeit it inexperienced talent. Plus, Pat Narduzzi has plenty of things to worry about such as replacing two 1,000 yard rushers, three starting offensive lineman and getting consistent play from his quarterback.
What it does mean is that Pitt will have the advantage when it comes to experienced players, like it did back in 2016 when they beat Penn State, 42-39.
Will that be a big factor this year?
We’ll find out on September 14.