College football’s most important October story lines to watch

Forty names, games, teams and minutiae making news in college football (Irish hangover remedies sold separately in Evanston, where it’s been a month since Northwestern got drunk on victory over Nebraska):

MORE DASH: QBs Saying ‘I Told Ya So’ | League Rankings | September Review

FOURTH QUARTER

OCTOBER PREVIEW

Story lines for the month ahead:

A defining three-game stretch looms in the back half of October James Franklin (31) and Penn State. The Dash is going to go ahead and predict victory for the Nittany Lions Saturday against futile Northwestern. After that comes an open date, and after that comes three games against the other current unbeatens in the Big Ten—at Michigan Oct. 15, home against Minnesota Oct. 22, home against Ohio State Oct. 29.

At 4–0 and a presumptive 5–0, Penn State is close to shaking off the two-year malaise that gripped the program. The Nittany Lions went 11–11 in 2020 and ’21, remaining behind the Buckeyes and watching the Wolverines and Michigan State both surge past them. Franklin got a nice contract extension in the offseason after flirting with other jobs, but he hasn’t done much since 2019 to earn it. After standing pat with sixth-year senior quarterback Sean Clifford, adding some talented freshmen running backs, improving the offensive line and building elite units at tight end and in the secondary, Penn State has a chance to reassert itself against the best competition the league has to offer. If it goes well, a manageable November comes next.

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