For Penn State fans, the season truly begins on Sep. 29.
Forget week one.
Forget the Pitt game.
Everything done in the month of September is in preparation for the quickly oncoming clash with Ohio State in The Beav (TM) on Sep. 29.
So, as a fan, it should be encouraging to see that not only has Penn State made progress each week, but that its progress has been fairly linear.
In their opening contest against Appalachian State, which it turns out may be pretty damn good, the Nittany Lions sleep walked through the first half, put together a stellar third quarter, and then fell right back into a daze before eking out a 45-38 overtime victory.
A week later, Penn State once again played mediocre football in the opening half of the game, allowing Pitt to stay within striking distance.
The second half, however, was a different story as the Nittany Lions outscored the Panthers 37-0 to make the final score 51-6.
It was 51-6.
Pitt lost at home, 51-6.
Pitt lost at home, to the team it considers its biggest rival, 51-6.
Pitt lost at home, in prime time, to a team it considers its biggest rival, 51-6.
Pitt lost at home, in prime time, on national television, to a team it considers its biggest rival, 51-6.
But I digress...
Everything began to come together in week three for Penn State as the Nittany Lions beat the ever-loving you know what out of Kent State to the tune of a 63-10 tail whipping.
(And easily covered the 35-point spread, for those interested parties).
It wasn’t a complete performance, though, as James Franklin’s squad sputtered and stumbled throughout the second quarter, in which it outscored Kent State just 7-3 thanks to a touchdown just before halftime.
That being said, the progression is evident.
Now, we can talk all we want about caliber of opponent, which has seemingly decreased with each subsequent week. But the Nittany Lions will need to play four solid quarters in order to knock off the Buckeyes in week five, and they’ve now gone from playing one strong quarter, to two, to three.
If Penn State can put together four quarters of football against Illinois on Friday, it will head into the official start of the season with all the momentum necessary to take down the Bucks.