Wrestling, University at Buffalo, Coach Cael

Coach Cael Sanderson during the wrestling match against Buffalo at Rec Hall, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019. On Senior Day, Penn State defeat Buffalo 47-3.

Penn State's quest for a ninth NCAA title in 10 years begins in just under two months and starts when the Nittany Lions welcome the Navy Midshipmen to Rec Hall on Nov. 10 at 2 p.m.

They'll also look to extend their dual meet winning streak which currently sits at 59 consecutive matches dating back to Feb. 22, 2015.

Cael Sanderson's squad will compete in 14 dual meets for the fourth straight year, including a matchup against Ohio State at the Bryce Jordan Center.

As Penn State looks remain atop the collegiate wrestling world, here are the five duals to watch this season:

Penn State at Arizona State - Nov. 22

The Sun Devils came to Rec Hall last year as the No. 9 team in the country and got trounced 41-3 despite boasting an impressive lineup with five ranked wrestlers, including Mark Hall's longtime foe Zahid Valencia.

Penn State picked up seven bonus point wins, including a major decision from former three-time NCAA champion Jason Nolf and a pin his fellow former three-time NCAA time champion Bo Nickal.

The Nittany Lions will need to replace those two, but even without them in the lineup, Penn State beats its opponents by an average margin of over 25 points on the road, so the trip to Tempe likely won't provide much resistance.

Arizona State returns the three-time All-American and two-time NCAA champion Zahid Valencia as well as his brother and fellow NCAA qualifier Anthony, plus All-Americans Tanner Hall and Josh Shields.

Even though Arizona State returns many of its mainstays and integral wrestlers, with Penn State's lineup featuring Anthony Cassar and Shakur Rasheed again as well as Vincenzo Joseph and possibly Mark Hall and Kyle Conel, the Nittany Lions likely have the edge, though it could be closer than last year's dual.

Penn State at Lehigh - Dec. 6

This is another matchup where Penn State had a wide edge last year but where things could again be closer than in year's past.

The Nittany Lions shutout Lehigh 42-0, though the Mountain Hawks were missing several ranked wrestlers due to injury, thus making the score more lopsided.

There is hope for the Mountain Hawks though.

The last time Penn State traveled to take on Lehigh on Dec. 3, 2018, the Nittany Lions eked out just a 23-19 victory thanks to a timely decision by Anthony Cassar to give Penn State a 20-19 lead, its first of the match, in the second to last bout.

Penn State was without Vincenzo Joseph, Nick Lee's redshirt had yet to be lifted and Roman Bravo-Young wasn't on Penn State's team at that point, but the Nittany Lions certainly did show an uncharacteristic vulnerability.

It likely won't be as close this time around, but the Mountain Hawks return NCAA qualifiers in Josh Humphreys, Luke Karam and Jake Jakobsen as well as All-Americans Jordan Kutler and Jordan Wood, so a few upsets aren't out of the realm of possibility.

5th Session of the 2019 Division 1 NCAA Wrestling Championships

Nick Lee points to a fan after winning his wrestling match at the 2019 Division 1 NCAA Wrestling Championships, at the PPG Paints Arena on Friday, March 22.

Penn State at Iowa - Jan. 31, 2020

Penn State last wrestled Iowa on Feb. 10, 2018 at the BJC and won 28-13, though Iowa's Alex Marinelli upset then-two-time reigning NCAA champion Vincenzo Joseph to keep it competitive.

The Nittany Lions last traveled to Iowa City on Jan. 20, 2017 and Penn State won by 15 points again, downing the Hawkeyes 26-11.

Iowa's lineup features two-time NCAA champion Spencer Lee and All-Americans Austin DeSanto, Michael Kemerer, Pat Lugo and Marinelli.

Lee (125), DeSanto (133), Lugo (149) and Kemerer (157) are all at weights where Penn State has either struggled recently or has wrestlers who are fairly inexperienced, which could bode well for the Hawkeyes and could potentially tip the scales in their favor.

The Nittany Lions will still boast Anthony Cassar, Shakur Rasheed, Nick Lee, Mark Hall and Vincenzo Joseph, but this could likely be one of the closest duals Penn State has this season.

Penn State at Wisconsin - Feb. 7, 2020

The Badgers came to Rec Hall last season and kept it close, losing 24-13 and upsetting two-time All-American Nick Lee and NCAA qualifier Brady Berge while Penn State was without Shakur Rasheed and Vincenzo Joseph.

This year, the Badgers added former NCAA champion at 133 pounds Seth Gross while returning All-Americans Trent Hillger, Evan Wick and NCAA qualifiers Tristan Moran and Cole Martin.

Martin upset Berge while Moran upset Nick Lee and Wick beat Mason Manville who substituted for Vincenzo Joseph, which helped keep things close for the Badgers.

Lee went on to finish as an All-American for the second straight year and Berge qualified for his first NCAA tournament and they will look to avenge those losses and while Gross' edition helps, it likely won't be enough to overcome some of the mainstays in Penn State's lineup.

Mark Hall, Penn State wrestling, NCAA Championships

Penn State junior Mark Hall celebrates after his victory over Michigan's Myles Amine in the semifinals of the NCAA Championships in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 

 

Penn State vs. Ohio State, Saturday Feb. 15

This is likely the most anticipated home dual of Penn State's season as the Nittany Lions welcome the Buckeyes to the BJC.

Penn State traveled to Columbus last year where the Nittany Lions pulled off two upset wins, including Roman Bravo-Young beating Luke Pletcher and Nick Lee finally avenging a loss against Joey McKenna.

Bravo-Young's and Lee's wins gave Penn State an early lead which the Nittany Lions never relinquished as they won 28-9.

The last time Ohio State came here, Penn State won just 19-18 after then-unranked Anthony Cassar beat then-No. 1 Kollin Moore in the 197-pound bout to put Penn State up 19-15 with one bout to go.

The Buckeyes lost McKenna but had 2019's top recruiting class and bring back Moore, Ke-Shawn Hayes and Pletcher, which could prove to be another formidable challenge for the Nittany Lions.

Penn State likely has the edge here, but the Nittany Lions' final Big Ten dual of the year won't be a cakewalk.

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