No. 2 -- Daryll Clark, QB, Penn State
No. 4 -- Evan Royster, RB, Penn State
No. 6 -- Navorro Bowman, LB, Penn State
No. 7 -- Sean Lee, LB, Penn State
No. 12 -- Jared Odrick, DT, Penn State
No. 27 -- Stefen Wisniewski, C, Penn State
In terms of the conference, here is how that data looks:
The obvious discrepancy--given that ESPN seems to think the Buckeyes are going to win the title--has already been noted by one fan, generating a second blog post:
Edwin from Dayton, Ohio, writes: I find it interesting that you have (as do most experts) Ohio State a better team and the chosen team to win whe Big Ten even with an away game at Happy Valley. But when I look at your player rankings you have 6 Penn State players you your top 30, and 4 in the top 12. This would lead me to believe that Penn State is the better team. (Although I know this is not the case) how do you justify them having the perenial players in the big ten and them not being the best? Are you just playing devils adovocate to the lion share of people that think The Ohio State is the best Big Ten team?
This points to the fundamental matchup of the 2009 Big Ten season -- Penn State's star power vs. Ohio State's depth.
Ohio State has proven throughout head coach Jim Tressel's tenure that it reloads better than any other Big Ten team. The Buckeyes have recruited better than anyone else and stockpiled talent at key positions to avoid drop-offs after major graduation losses.
Penn State's ability to reload is not as guaranteed.
Have the Lions recruited well enough to replace Shipley, left tackle Gerald Cadogan and guard Rich Ohrnberger up front, as well as four starters in the secondary? We'll find out this fall.
Ohio State had only three players make my top 30 rankings -- quarterback Terrelle Pryor (No. 8), safety Kurt Coleman (No. 13) and defensive end Thad Gibson (No. 26). But the Buckeyes appear to have fewer concerns at the positions where they experienced major production losses.
These are all valid points. But the one factor that needs to be considered here is not just what positions are being replaced, but how well each team manages that position.
For instance, it is more of a problem for Penn State to replace a quarterback, historically, although Daryll Clark kind of rewrote history last year, as did Robinson in 2005. But we are not dealing with that position anyway.
Historically, Penn State has problems replacing offensive lines. Period. It always seems to take 2-3 years to rebuild a line after it is decimated by graduation. And this may be a weakness. We have also not done particularly well with receivers, but I have more confidence here because most of the guys that will be starting this fall got some playing time last season, and they have the benefit of an experienced QB to make their learning curve easier. And some forget that Norwood, Williams and Butler all did pretty well when they first started, though that doesn't guarantee success for the next group.
Defensively, the Lions have shown themselves over the past decade to put things together, with losses like Lowry, Zemaitis, Posluszny being issues that never seemed to materialize on the field--in other words, despite the loss of their talent, we plugged in new people and still had good defenses. I think we will be all right in the secondary and on the defensive line, despite our losses to graduation.
I don't follow Ohio State recruiting and development closely enough to breakdown individual units (O-line, D-line, LBs, etc.) but overall, they must do a pretty good job at recruiting and replacing to be in so many BCS title games and BCS bowl games.