An interesting dynamic has played out at Penn State and Rutgers this week.
The Scarlet Knights have said they’re approaching this as another game -- but they acknowledged it’s not just another game. The Nittany Lions have also said they’re approaching this as another game -- but because it is just another game.
“We are just as motivated in this game as were for Akron,” James Franklin said. “And we are just as motivated for this game as we were for Central Florida.”
Said Kyle Flood, regarding his players: “I want them to be excited about this game. They should be excited about this game. Games like this are the reason you play college football at a place like Rutgers.”
Flood was inundated with questions about the Nittany Lions; Franklin begged for questions about the Scarlet Knights. The only thing fans want to talk about in Piscataway, New Jersey, is Saturday’s game; the only thing fans want to talk about in Happy Valley is reduced sanctions.
Said Franklin: “I know you guys are going to ask me 55 questions that don’t have to do with Rutgers, but I would like to talk about Rutgers, Rutgers, Rutgers -- and then maybe a little bit more about Rutgers.”
The first question of Franklin’s weekly news conference: Can you describe the atmosphere and emotions after the NCAA’s announcement?
“Were you on the phone when we said we were going to talk about Rutgers, Rutgers, Rutgers and more Rutgers?” Franklin asked with a laugh.
It's worth noting that Franklin mentioned “Rutgers” so much, because Flood hasn’t said “Penn State” once. He’s decided to refer to PSU as “the team from Pennsylvania” since ... well ... at least this fall.
Even among players, the contrast has been stark.
“Everyone knows it’s a big game. In the back of our minds, it’s a big game -- but we’re going to treat it like it’s any other game on the schedule,” Rutgers wideout Leonte Carroo said. “It would be a great win for the program, a huge win for the program and for recruits and for everything.”
Penn State linebacker Brandon Bell was also asked if, as a New Jersey native, he put any added emphasis on this game -- or if he thought his team at least watched its words this week, so as not to add any bulletin-board material.
“They’re obviously going to be looking for anything to fuel them up, as they’ve been hyping up the game a lot,” Bell said. “It’s their first Big Ten game; they should be excited. But, pretty much, we’re just looking at it as another game this week.”
So, there you have it. Two seemingly different mind-sets going into this game. We’ll see which one wins out Saturday ...
Now on to the links:
Michigan's Brady Hoke on fan angst: "We're not really happy, either."
Penn State amps up the noise at practice to prepare for Rutgers.
Kyle Flood deserves the breathing room from his two-year extension, NJ.com's Steve Politi writes.
Despite a loss, Mark Dantonio says Michigan State's goals remain within reach.
Previewing the Indiana-Bowling Green game.
Special teams mistakes are standing out to Ohio State and Urban Meyer.
Looking back on past meetings in the Maryland-WVU rivalry.
Nebraska is focusing on better tackling.
A look at Iowa's two defensive linemen and why the Hawkeyes are 2-0.
Darrell Hazell remains mum on Purdue's starting quarterback.
Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald calls his team's lack of toughness "an embarrassment."
Illinois is looking for a statement win against Washington.
Minnesota's players are trying to prevent muscle cramps with the help of pickle juice.