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Stats And Storylines: Weather-Related Variables

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Just one more Sunday morning after this before B1G football begins.

WEATHER Birmingham Photo by David Jones - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

With so many things already abnormal about this football season, Mother Nature may provide some plot twists late in the year. Typically the Big Ten wraps up the outdoor portion of the season in November, playing only the conference championship at an indoor venue during the month of December.

This time around, with the late start, the Lions will play three games after Thanksgiving, bringing the cold, messy weather into the mix. As long as it’s not a ‘wintry mix’ of rain and snow, or cold rain accompanied by a strong wind, the elements should not be a major factor. A few inches of snow during a football game, with little wind, doesn’t disrupt the flow of the game as much as it amuses fans watching at home on TV.

The last time Penn State played a game outdoors in a cold region of the country past November was at the Pinstripe Bowl, which took place in New York City on December 27, 2014. The weather was in the 50’s at one point during the game and overall did not impact the game. Snow may come into play when the Lions travel to Ann Arbor on November 28; it’s on the forecast the week before and after.

Here is the current forecast for State College in December.

As you can see the wintry mix weather and snow begins to feather into the picture early in the month. With a game at Rutgers on December 5 and one at home versus Michigan State a week later, it is likely that there will be some snow around for the Lions to deal with. That may not be the toughest obstacle for the players, sometimes an unseen force, such as the wind, can be tougher to deal with.

Penn State faces Indiana on October 24 and there isn’t any significant cold weather or precipitation in the forecast. The last time the teams squared off in Bloomington on October 20, 2018, the weather affected the game a great deal. There wasn’t any precipitation but the wind was blowing about as hard and steady as it ever has during a Big Ten football game. It was a brutal game to be a punt returner or a receiver on that day as well not just due to the crazy wind but also the game was played while the late afternoon fall sun hung just over the top of the stadium.

It doesn’t always take dramatic precipitation or cold to impact the game but this season we will get a chance to see the players perform in colder weather than we normally would. And while we may focus on the rain, snow or cold weather, it may be the wind that affects the game the most should it blow harder than normal. In Big Ten country there are weather fronts that can dive across the area quickly late in November and in early December. Drastic changes in temperature from one day to the next in the forecast typically will be accompanied by heavy wind as well.

Whether You Can Adjust

It will be interesting to see how the later start to the season and slightly more turbulent weather will impact the play of the games. Penn State is set up nicely should it be more difficult to throw the ball. A tallish, strong-armed quarterback throwing to a talented tight end is a nice option to have in tough weather. The Lions have that. A reliable offensive line and solid backs can make it easier to maintain drives and manage the clock as well. Coach Franklin’s team is all set in each of those categories.

Penn State has endured tough weather in the past and most of the games turned out to have lasting memories.

For fans, if allowed to sit in Beaver Stadium this year, there won’t be many complaints if the weather isn’t optimal. There will be no (official) tailgating but fans can still celebrate at home with friends. For fans missing the game-day experience, just stand outside for six hours. Maybe go ahead and dip one of your feet in a bucket of water so it’s a little soggy and then sit on a cold piece of metal and watch the game.