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Way-too-early 2015 Big Ten football power rankings

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6. Penn State Nittany Lions

Christian-Hackenberg-Getty-ImagesThere’s little doubt that Penn State has talent on its roster, but there’s also little doubt that the expectations of this team didn’t square up with the reality of where the program actually was. Heading in to 2015 things appear to be a bit more realistic in the expectations department for the Nittany Lions.

Part of that has to do with the fact that Penn State finally had the lack of scholarships available the last two years finally catch up with it. The other part is the luster of the shiny, new head coach has worn off. Now it’s time to go about fixing the issues that exist on this team.

Issue No. 1 facing this team heading in to 2015 is finding a way to take the offensive line from being a weakness to a strength. The lack of production up front led to a lack of a run game and a severe drop off in production from quarterback Christian Hackenberg.

Hackenberg also must reassess his game in the offseason, as he wasn’t helpful to himself in many cases last season. The numbers slipped in a big way in 2014, with Hackenberg completing at a worse rate and throwing for eight fewer touchdowns and five more interceptions.

Thankfully just two offensive starters will be gone from last season’s team, meaning there’s a chance for a great jump in production. It will be needed though, as PSU will lose both starting defensive ends and one of the most productive linebackers in the Big Ten in Mike Hull.

While star defensive tackle Anthony Zettle and six others will be back for a defense that was statistically the Big Ten’s best in 2014. As long as that group is able to replace some of the bigger missing parts, this team has the potential to

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Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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