Welcome back, college fooball

Is it just me or does it seem each year that it gets harder to wait for college football season to arrive?

Don’t get me wrong, I love summer and the beautiful weather — I am already counting down the days until the unofficial start to spring (Masters week) — but there is something that changes in the air once that football is kicked off each September.

I am not an NFL fan by any means, but boy do I love college football, and for local fans there is a lot to be excited about this season.

Gannon is coming off its second-best season after a 9-2 finish and a PSAC Western Division title last season. Fourth-year coach Brad Rzyczycki will lead the Golden Knights into one of their most anticipated seasons — possibly ever.

Liam Nadler will return under center for his fourth straight season. Nadler enters the 2015 campaign as Gannon’s all-time leader in six different categories.

Nadler won’t be Gannon’s only offensive threat this season. The Knights return many skill position players that led them to a PSAC-leading 41.4 points per game last season.

Running back Brock Jones will look to run his way into the Gannon record books after a breakout season last year. Jones will be joined by wide receivers Jesstin Hamm and Brendan Klemensic, as the Knights aim for the program’s first NCAA playoff appearance.

High hopes surrounded James Franklin and his Nittany Lions entering Saturday’s game against Temple; however, Penn State was unable to fulfill any of them. Penn State was upset by the Owls in a 27-10 loss, the first to Temple in 74 years.

Penn State’s biggest concern this season is the improvement up front of the offensive line. Keeping junior quarterback Christian Hackenberg standing is Penn State’s top priority if they want to improve from a 7-6 overall record and a 2-6 mark Big Ten play.

Erie fans following Pitt on Saturday were not saddened by the outcome of the Panthers’ season opener against Youngstown State (Pitt won 45-37), but rather what happened to the reigning ACC Player of the Year. Erie native and McDowell graduate James Conner will miss the rest of the season after tearing his MCL during Saturday’s game.

After scoring two TDs in the first quarter, Conner was tackled early in the second quarter and appeared to be fine after getting up and walking off the field on his own. Conner did not play the rest of the game, with coach Pat Narduzzi calling it “precautionary.” Narduzzi then announced on Monday that Conner would undergo season-ending surgery on his right knee.

DOMINIC SANSONE

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