Kirk Herbstreit witnessed Penn State nearly knock off USC in thrilling fashion.

While the Rose Bowl didn’t cap off 2016 the way Penn State hoped it would, there was plenty of reason to believe in the Lions’ future. They could return every player who received an offensive touch in 2016, as well as offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead, who revived the Lions’ passing game.

With that in mind, it’s easy to see why the experts like the Lions moving forward. Count Herbstreit as one of them.

He predicted that Penn State would start the 2017 season in the top five:

At one point, that probably seemed like a far-fetched thought, even when Penn State was in the midst of its winning streak. But after watching the Lions’ B1G Championship comeback and highlight-reel 49-point outburst against USC, that’s not crazy at all.

The question is whether or not the Lions will be the top B1G team in the polls or if that title will again belong to Ohio State.

The way-too-early rankings will likely hit the internet minutes after the national championship next Monday. It wouldn’t be a surprise if other experts followed Herbstreit’s lead.