2016 record: 11-3, 8-1 Big Ten
Last Way-Too-Early ranking: 5
Returning starters: 9 offense, 7 defense, 2 special teams

Key losses: C Brian Gaia, WR Chris Godwin, DE Evan Schwan, LB Brandon Bell, SS Malik Golden, OT Paris Palmer, DE Garrett Sickels

Outlook: After breaking through under coach James Franklin last season, the Nittany Lions will try to stay neck-and-neck with Michigan and Ohio State in the Big Ten. Penn State went into spring practice needing to find big-play receivers and pass rushers. Juwan Johnson and DeAndre Thompkins seem capable of helping replace Chris Godwin’s production on offense, and end Shareef Miller and linebacker Jarvis Miller look like guys who can get to the quarterback. As long as quarterback Trace McSorley and tailback Saquon Barkley stay healthy, the Nittany Lions should be a CFP contender for the second straight season: