We hope you’ll start your day with us here at the Landof10.com as we work to prepare you for everything that you need to know – Monday through Friday – around the world of Penn State sports. Whether it’s football, basketball, wrestling, hockey, baseball or just a wild story we hope you’ll find interesting, we’re here to share it all with you.
This is your Penn State Wake-Up Call for Tuesday, Nov. 8. Let’s get started.
It’s on to Indiana
Penn State coach James Franklin did his usual game-week pivot on Sunday, tweeting the following:
Indiana, Indiana, Indiana, Indiana, Indiana, Indiana, Indiana, Indiana, Indiana, Indiana, Indiana, Indiana & Indiana pic.twitter.com/3xW2rDaQLE
— James Franklin (@coachjfranklin) November 6, 2016
That’s 13 “Indianas” in one tweet, if you’re scoring at home, Franklin’s method for turning his club’s attention away from its latest victory – Saturday’s 41-14 pummeling of Iowa – and toward the game against the Hoosiers on Saturday in Bloomington.
Nothing else matters. Not the five-game winning streak. Not the rankings (No. 12 in the Associated Press poll, No. 14 in the USA Today Coaches poll and a still-to-be-determined rise from No. 12 in the College Football Playoff rankings, which come out Tuesday).
Not praise, either – even if some did come from Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, as noted by Mark Wogenrich of The (Allentown) Morning Call:
“This is a totally different team than what you saw in September.”
And it is. Down 13-3 at halftime of the Oct. 1 game against Minnesota, the Lions appeared destined for a 4-8 or 5-7 finish that could have doomed Franklin. Now there is talk of running the table, finishing 10-2 and making a big-time bowl.
Which is why Franklin felt all those “Indianas” were warranted. Quarterback Trace McSorley certainly gets it.
“This is an awesome feeling. At the same time, as fast as we were able to climb the rankings, it can be taken away just as fast. So we’ve got to come to work every single day and prepare like we’re not ranked.”
Barkley enters the Heisman discussion
Josh Moyer of ESPN.com states the Heisman Trophy case of Nittany Lions running back Saquon Barkley (as others have), noting that he is averaging more yards per carry (6.3) than Florida State’s Dalvon Cook (5.8), has more 20-yard-plus runs (15) than Texas’ D’Onta Freeman (13) and has faced a more difficult stretch of defenses than most Heisman-worthy backs, such as San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey.
Operating behind a line that includes Big Ten Freshman of the Week Connor McGovern, Barkley has rushed for 675 yards in his last four games, twice eclipsing the 200-yard mark. He has generated over 200 all-purpose yards the last two, including a career-high 277 at Purdue. He leads the Big Ten with 1,055 yards on the ground to date, and has surpassed the 1,000-yard mark each of his first two seasons. His career total of 2,131 is 15th on the school’s all-time list.
At the same time, Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson seemingly has the Heisman sewed up, having produced a ridiculous 45 touchdowns to date. But that doesn’t mean Barkley doesn’t deserve to be in the Downtown Athletic Club next month.
Again, the last word belongs to McSorley.
“As a team we believe that he deserves that. If he ends up being in that talk, that’s awesome, because he’s one of our brothers.”
Nelson’s lunch-pail approach
Andrew Nelson, the Lions’ injured offensive tackle, showed up before the PSU-Iowa game wearing a hard hat and carrying a lunch pail. Lisa Byington, the Big Ten Network’s sideline reporter for the game, writes in her blog that Nelson did so at the urging of offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead, who wanted to make a point about matching the Hawkeyes’ blue-collar approach.
She also writes that Nelson had a different celebration for each Lions score, meaning he was a very busy guy Saturday night. So too was Barkley, as noted. And Barkley, as it happens, is an alum of Whitehall (Pa.) High School, which also produced Byington’s co-worker, BTN analyst Matt Millen, the former Penn State and NFL star.
She posted high school photos of Barkley and Millen, the latter unearthed by BTN associate producer Denny Blount.
PSU hockey also on the rise
The Penn State hockey team, off to a 7-1-1 start, has risen to 12th in the USCHO.com poll, highest in the history of a program that is in just its fifth year of Division I play.
Gordon Brunskill of the Centre Daily Times reports that coach Guy Gadowsky reacted in much the same way Franklin has reacted to his team’s placement in the polls:
“It’s too early to get too excited about the rankings. Nothing’s changed. We don’t really think much of it. We’re just moving forward.”
The Lions host Alaska-Anchorage (1-7) Friday and Saturday.
Also in the Land of 10
- Wisconsin revokes the season tickets of the fans who appeared at a game dressed as Barack Obama with a noose around his neck.
- Michigan is going to explore a sixth year of eligibility for running back Drake Johnson.
- Josh Langford, a freshman on Michigan State’s basketball team, returned to practice Monday, and is expected to be available for the season opener.