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Safety Marcus Allen contributed 12 tackles and a safety to Penn State's victory against Pitt.

Penn State drops in polls, opens as huge favorite against Georgia State; columnist fires back at James Franklin

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Numbers of note

As Penn State fans begin their work week, two numbers are likely to attract their attention.

The first is 5, as in the Nittany Lions’ ranking in the latest polls — as noted by the Land of 10’s Sean Keeler, among others. Though 33-14 winners against Pitt on Saturday, the Nittany Lions nonetheless dropped a spot from last week because of victories against ranked teams by No. 2 Oklahoma (at Ohio State) and No. 4 USC (Stanford at home).

The other number is 38.5, the spread for Penn State’s final nonconference game, Saturday against Georgia State. Greg Pickel of writes that it is the biggest opening number for the Lions since they were favored by the same margin against Florida International in 2007, a game they won 59-0.

Shots fired

James Franklin was certain to ruffle some feathers in Pittsburgh by saying the victory over the Panthers was “just like beating Akron” … and he did. Here’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Ron Cook:

Penn State wasn’t nearly as good as I expected, not in the national championship contender category, certainly not good enough for arrogant James Franklin to make an ass of himself by comparing Penn State’s 33-14 win over Pitt to its 52-0 win against Akron a week earlier.

Loose locker room

Safety Marcus Allen has emerged as the Lions’ “Dr. Feelgood,” in the estimation of Mike Poorman of Allen, Poorman writes, is the guy who has ignited locker-room celebrations after both of Penn State’s victories to date, and who has tweeted out video of it, as well. “We don’t ever want to take those feelings for granted coming out with a win every week,” another safety, Nick Scott, told Poorman after the Pitt game. “The locker room is blazing right now. We’re having fun.”

Balancing act

While the bulk of Penn State’s big plays came on offense in 2016, Mark Wogenrich of The (Allentown) Morning Call writes, it now appears that they could come from anywhere in 2017 — that this is a more well-balanced team than it was a year ago. The defense provided 5 sacks and forced 3 turnovers Saturday. Cornerback Grant Haley had an interception and a sack. Allen generated 12 tackles, one of which resulted in safety, and DeAndre Thompkins looms as a threat on punt returns; he ran one back for a touchdown in the opener.

Andrew Nelson returns

Saturday also marked a milestone for senior offensive tackle Andrew Nelson, who saw his first action since injuring his right knee last Oct. 8 against Maryland. He missed the final eight games of the 2016 season, as well as the opener this season. But as Pickel reports, Nelson saw time at right tackle in relief of starter Chasz Wright.

Field hockey team blanks Princeton

Goalie Jenny Rizzo backstopped Penn State’s third straight shutout as the third-ranked Lions beat No. 12 Princeton 2-0 Sunday on the road, according to the school’s official website. PSU (5-0) got goals from Katie Dombrowski and Aurelia Meijer, and Moira Putsch contributed a pair of assists.

Women’s soccer team falls

Phoebe McClernon scored on a free kick in the 62nd minute as No. 8 Virginia beat No. 5 Penn State 3-2 on Sunday in Charlottesville, Va. Ethan Kasales of has the details.

DaeSean Hamilton atones

Senior wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton had been disconsolate after a late drop proved costly in the Lions’ 42-39 loss to Pitt last season. As shown on video posted on a Twitter account known as Dr. Saturday — Yahoo Sports’ college football blog — he atoned with a brilliant one-handed catch in the rematch Saturday.

Also in the Land of 10

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