2018 felt like a roller coaster ride for Penn State football, with sky high expectations brought back down to earth following losses to B1G powers Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State - to say nothing of near losses to Appalachian State and Indiana.
So while a 9-4 record will feel good on paper... Penn State fans no doubt feel that there was a bit left on the table. And at first look, it's easy to see why many aren't sure change is coming.
Trace McSorley is gone, as is RB Miles Sanders, but that hardly means the team will take a step back. Indeed, there's plenty of reason to believe that 2019 will be a big year in Happy Valley.
Here are the games we expect to prove it...
Penn State at Iowa - Saturday, October 12 (Iowa City, IA)
Though separated by a division, these two have put together some absolute classics over the past two years - from McSorley's Miracle in Iowa City to the defense's last stand in Happy Valley against Nate Stanley a year ago.
And as we turn our attention back to Kinnick Stadium for their October date in 2019... we could be in for the best one yet.
Stanley will return for his senior year, and with how close his Hawkeyes have come to pulling off the upset against PSU - you can bet we'll see one of the best games of his career.
Meanwhile for the Nittany Lions, this road game will be their first true test of the 2019 season, and if they win in Iowa City, then they'll turn right around for a shot at a conference-shattering upset...
Penn State vs. Michigan - Saturday, October 19
Here's a fun fact - in the past two seasons Penn State and Michigan have played to a combined score of 49-55, which would seem like a close match-up if not for the fact that the home team in each of those games won by an average of 32 points.
So while last season's trip to Ann Arbor proved fruitless for the Nittany Lions in a 42-7 loss, they'll return home this season to host the Wolverines - and the pendulum could swing back to PSU's favor once again.
But more than just getting revenge for a lopsided defeated, a victory over the Wolverines, whose strong 2018 and huge numbers of returning talent should no doubt leave them in thick of the B1G race, it's the kind of victory that could upend expectations for the season - and make PSU a dark horse candidate for a B1G championship.
Penn State at Michigan State - Saturday, October 26 (East Lansing, MI)
The final game of this stretch will come when Penn State visits East Lansing for one more road game before Ohio State looms in the distance.
While it might be easy to scoff at the season the Spartans had (including a comical 6-0 loss to Oregon in the RedBox Bowl), they'll still remain a tough draw throughout the season... let alone at home in Spartan Stadium.
This is in no small part to Brian Lewerke who, while he had a season in 2018 that can be best summarized by this clip...
... he is nonetheless still the QB that threw for nearly 3,000 yards his sophomore year, and was once pegged as the future of B1G QBs.
He'll be back with plenty to prove in 2019, and with a defense full of returning talent, Penn State would do well to believe they'll get the very best of Mark D'Antoni's squad next fall.
Ready to get on your way to game day?
With more than 4,000 homes across the country - including over 350 home rentals available for Penn State game day - Rent Like A Champion will keep your team closer to the action this season!
Click below to start searching for your perfect game day getaway now...