Penn State athletics/courtesy
Led by quarterback Trace McSorley (above, middle), Penn State has won 15 of 16 games since losing at Michigan last Sept. 24.

Penn State enjoys productive bye week; loss at Michigan last year served as turning point for Nittany Lions

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Bye, bye, bye

Mike Gross of LNP Media Group writes about it being the best of all bye weeks for Penn State. A loss by No. 2 Clemson at Syracuse on Friday – one of several upsets over the weekend – allowed the Nittany Lions to leap from third to second in both major polls, as pointed out by Mark Brennan of (among others).

Gross notes that the Lions (6-0) are one of four unbeaten teams from a Power 5 conference, joining Alabama, Georgia and TCU, with their season-defining stretch coming up – home against No. 19 Michigan (5-1) on Saturday, at No. 6 Ohio State (6-1) on Oct. 28 and at No. 18 Michigan State (5-1) on Nov. 4.

One other thing to keep in mind, Gross writes, is there is a scenario under which the Nittany Lions could make the College Football Playoff without winning the Big Ten East, while the Buckeyes win the conference title and do not qualify for the CFP. That would be the exact opposite of what occurred last season.

Wolverines provided a wake-up call

Penn State has won 15 of 16 games since an embarrassing 49-10 loss at Michigan last Sept. 24 and that is hardly coincidental, writes Joe Juliano of As quarterback Trace McSorley told Juliano, the Nittany Lions did some serious soul-searching immediately after that defeat, and came to understand what it would take to be a top-tier team. Cornerback Grant Haley agreed, telling Juliano, “The way they played that game, that’s who we wanted to be. We realized that we’re better than this. We all took that hard look in the mirror, all looked at each other and said we’ve got each other’s back. I think that’s where it started, the chemistry in the locker room. The players really took on that huge leadership role, knew what they wanted to do to bring Penn State football back.”

Honoring his father

Rich Scarcella of the Reading Eagle/Times profiles cornerback Amani Oruwariye, who has 3 interceptions this season. The most recent pick came in the 31-7 victory over Northwestern on Oct. 7, exactly three years after Amani lost his dad, Alfred, to a terminal illness. “It meant a lot,” Amani said, per Scarcella. “I woke up thinking about him. It was in the back of my mind before the game.”

Ryan Monk departs

In addition to pointing out the Nittany Lions’ No. 2 ranking is their highest since 1999, Derek Levarse of the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader reports that walk-on defensive tackle Ryan Monk is no longer with the team. Levarse quotes court documents saying Monk was cited for public drunkenness and disorderly conduct on Oct. 11 in State College.

Joe Nastasi dips toe into coaching pool

John McGonigal of the Centre Daily Times writes that former Penn State wide receiver Joe Nastasi dons a great many hats while serving as the wideout coach at State College High School. “Sometimes you’ve got to be the counselor, the dad, and I mean that in a very good way,” Nastasi said, per McGonigal. “Not everybody comes from the same exact setup. I have a gift and ability to handle all walks of life and all kids and get them to where they need to go.”

Gophers beat Nittany Lions in hockey, earn split

As noted on the university’s official website, Brannon McManus had a hat trick as No. 7 Minnesota beat No. 11 Penn State 6-3 on Sunday, giving the teams a split of their weekend series. The Nittany Lions, who like the Gophers are 2-2, beat Minnesota 3-1 on Friday.

Women’s soccer team wins in OT

Also according to the university website, Laura Freigang scored in overtime as the 13th-ranked Penn State women’s soccer team beat Maryland 1-0 on Sunday afternoon. The Lions (10-3-2) limited Maryland (7-7-2) to a single shot in  the victory.

Memorable moment for Adrian Amos

The Chicago Bears tweeted out video of third-year safety Adrian Amos, a Penn State grad, taking his first NFL interception 90 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter of the Bears’ 27-24 overtime victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. Amos is a Baltimore native.

Also in the Land of 10

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