The plot thickens for the Nittany Lions and their 2014 campaign, as the NCAA lifted the post-season ban during the week, giving the now eligible-to-be-bowl-eligible Lions a raison d’être. Now, they’re playing for something other than pride, and now, each game takes on new-found significance, especially for the seniors.
This week, the undefeated Nittany Lions (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) kick off their 2014 Big Ten conference schedule with an away game versus the undefeated Rutgers Scarlet Knights (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) in a battle of Big Ten leaders. Will scarlet billows start to spread? (Cheap pun, I know, but that’s my three pennies’ worth.)
Highs and Lows
Penn State is entering the game on an emotional high due to the lifting of sanctions, whereas Rutgers is feeling the sting of having one of their all-time stars, Ray Rice, expelled from the NFL for fiance-beating. Both teams had lackluster wins over semi-competent opponents last Saturday. However, the game is being played in High Point Solutions (LOL) Stadium in Piscataway, which represents an emotional edge for the red horsemen.
There’s been lots of trash talking of a sort, inspired by James Franklin’s arrogant assertions about recruiting in the area. Offensive Coordinator Ralph Friedgen was Franklin’s boss when he took over as head coach of Maryland after Ron Vanderlinden went to Penn State. Friedgen was later fired by Maryland. Furthermore, Rutgers players from Pennsylvania who were snubbed by Penn State are somewhat vocally pissed off over it. This is the sort of stuff that fuels rivalries. Dare I say that this could eventually turn into a border war if Franklin can’t put his money where his mouth is?