I don’t know about you, but I had extra pep in my step this week. A victory dance can do that to a fan base and considering how bleak things looked heading into Ann Arbor, Michigan, I’d like to think another dose of sweet victory is just what Nittany Nation needs. No sooner had James Franklin taken a seat for his Wednesday evening post-practice press conference than the Nittany Lion roar of the internet lit up like a pinball machine as our old friend Trace McSorley threw his first touchdown pass in the NFL. He reminded us all what our head coach has done for this program on his watch; 2020 notwithstanding.
By the time Franklin left the podium, Myles Dread already hit the game-winner over VCU to let us all know that men’s basketball is alive and well at 2-and-0, despite the heavy hits it took during a rough and tumble off-season. Not to be outdone, our Lady Lions hit a buzzer-beater of their own on Thursday afternoon in a win over Rhode Island that preserved an undefeated start to Carolyn Krieger’s second year rebuild and men’s hockey notched their first victory of the year by toppling Michigan.
Speaking of the Wolverines, the dust had barely settled on our victory in the Big House when it was announced their football program was pausing all in-person activities and moving to a virtual-only landscape due to Coronavirus precautions; much like Maryland immediately after they defeated us. Wisconsin, Ohio State and plenty of others have also been forced to pause at various points this season as nearly 120 games have been cancelled or moved around to date. Somewhere in the midst of wins and losses, opt-outs, medical retirements, and QB controversies, it’s becoming clear we owe a debt of gratitude to James Franklin for keeping our Nittany Lions safe through this mess. Knock on wood of course, as the season dwindles down with only three games to go.
As for this week’s opponent, I’m putting out a Rutgers red alert on this one. The Big Ten tried to make Rutgers our rival when they joined the conference in 2014 and they gave us all we could handle that first year as the FrankLion era got its feet wet. It’s a notion head coach and former Penn State grad assistant, Greg Shiano, quickly put to rest this week. Should Shiano and co. steal a win over us on Saturday afternoon in Piscataway, you better believe he and the proud Rutgers fans will let us know about it for years to come, no matter what the circumstances were in 2020. Now, I gave up on pregame predictions weeks ago, mainly because things became so unpredictable, but if Maryland represented a day of reckoning then this battle with the Scarlet Knights is as must-win as it gets. Not because of their team, mind you, but because none of us want to get off the joy wave we’ve been riding all week long!