It’s Indiana week. In the past, we would all be screaming “TRAP GAME!!!” at each other, but this week, there’s something else in the air — that’s right, it’s revenge. While James Franklin is (publicly) denying revenge being on Penn State’s mind, we all know this Penn State squad wants to right the wrongs of last year, and on Saturday, they’ll get their chance.
1. I’m Glad Penix Scored
That’s right, I said it. I certainly didn’t feel the way at the time, but I’m glad the refs upheld the Penix touchdown last October for a number of reasons.
- If we’re being honest, the 2020 season wasn’t even a real season. No fans. Limited practices. Fake season, no doubt about it.
- If we were to say the 2020 season happened, it’s only fair to count the games from Thanksgiving on since that was when the Big Ten was going to originally restart the season. And in that case, Penn State was 4-0. The Indiana game — and the four other games that I honestly don’t even recall — were basically the “hold on, I wasn’t ready” pitches for a toddler who is playing wiffleball with his dad. If we weren’t ready, it doesn’t count.
- In a world where we are acting like the 2020 season happened (note: it really did not), I like that Penn State gets to go through this season with a couple teams who need their rear-end kicked — Iowa, Maryland, Ohio State, and yes, Indiana. One might call it a Revenge Tour. Which is a name I totally came up with myself. No other relevant college programs have used the term “Revenge Tour” ever. Right here, right now, Penn State is the first one.
2. Another Night Game On ABC
Honestly, I have no idea why this is a night game on ABC. Sure, if before the season ABC wanted to scoop this up since both Penn State and Indiana were ranked, then it made a bit of sense to have it in primetime. But despite the Nittany Lions’ strong start, going back to Happy Valley for a 2-2 Indiana team, just two weeks after they were here, is quite the generous move from ABC.
I know we’re not getting Fowler and Herbstreit — instead, it’s McDonough and Blacklegde who are just as good, in my mind — but seriously, this has to be the first time Indiana is ever playing on primetime on ABC, right? Just an interesting move, especially considering an Arkansas at Georgia Top 10 matchup was the alternative. Power of the Big Ten, I guess.
3. “Running” “The” “Ball” Is For Losers Who Actually Have Stinky Offenses
Lastly, let’s talk about Penn State’s most previous game: a 38-17 win over Villanova. The major takeaway from the game? Penn State straight up stinks at run blocking. Out of the Nittany Lions three games this season, just one (Ball State) saw Penn State average over three yards per carry. Wisconsin and Auburn? Okay, we can perhaps chop that one up to them being really good Power Five defenses. But FCS Villanova? Woof. That one is a tougher one to twist into a positive.
Here’s the thing though: running the ball is for low-tier Big Ten teams like Rutgers and Michigan. Here at Penn State, we have the best quarterback in the Big Ten in Sean Clifford. We have the best wide receiver duo in the Big Ten in Jahan Dotson and Parker Washington. We have the best tight end trio in the Big Ten — especially if you don’t consider “run blocking” vital for the tight end position.
I’m not saying Penn State should stop running the ball entirely, but it’s 2021 — it’s all about the passing game. And fortunately, we have the second coming of Tom Brady in Sean Clifford. So less focus on “running” “the” “ball” and more focus on making sure Clifford takes home the Heisman.