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Preseason predictions: Penn State

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Three predictions for Penn State this fall:

1. Sean Lee shows everyone what they missed -- Torn ACLs can sidetrack a player's career, but Lee has taken every step toward a complete recovery. He'll regain the form he showed in 2007 and contend for the Butkus Award as the leader of Penn State's defense. Lee and Navorro Bowman will form arguably the nation's top linebacker tandem and the Nittany Lions will rank among the league leaders in run defense.

2. Evan Royster leads the Big Ten in rushing and then turns pro -- From talking with Royster in the spring, I get the sense he's ready to be The Man in Happy Valley. His consistency and seasoned running style will command more carries this year, and he'll take on as much of a featured role as afforded to him on an egalitarian team. Royster will exceed his carries, yards and touchdown totals from 2008 and then move on to the NFL.

3. Penn State will lose a road game -- We all know the schedule is favorable, but Penn State has four tricky Big Ten road games against Illinois, Michigan, Northwestern and Michigan State. The Lions fell the last time they visited Champaign and East Lansing, and they never win in Ann Arbor. Northwestern could be a trap game, sandwiched between Michigan and the Nov. 7 showdown with Ohio State. Penn State has great leadership, but it will stumble once away from Happy Valley.