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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Allen Robinson crossed his arms during Penn State's media day and lingered near the end zone, a place he found plenty -- 11 times to be exact -- during last season's record-breaking run.

Despite the familiar surroundings, the stonefaced junior seemed out of place with the focus on his accolades. He routinely dismissed talk about last season's Big Ten-leading 77 catches and 1,013 yards. And on three separate occasions, he labeled his year as "decent" before deflecting praise to teammates or addressing the offseason.

[+] EnlargeAllen Robinson
Matthew O'Haren/USA TODAY SportsAllen Robinson says he still has room for growth on the football field, despite pulling in 77 catches last season to break Penn State's single-season receptions record of 63.
"I don't know, Allen," said one reporter. "I think it was a little better than decent."

Robinson offered a slight shrug but didn't crack a smile: "I'm just trying to come open and make plays when my number's called."

The junior wideout is coming off one of the most surprising performances from one of the program's most surprising seasons -- but he's not looking back. After shattering the school's long-standing single-season receptions record (63) as a sophomore, surpassing the likes of PSU greats Bobby Engram and O.J. McDuffie, Robinson said he's focused on 2013.

So maybe it shouldn't come as a surprise he declined to talk much about that record. He didn't want to talk about it much last season either. His parents opted to use the word "relief" when describing it, and the two paused when asked just how much Robinson has brought up the fact he sent those PSU record books back to the printing press.

"I don't remember him bringing it up once since January," his mother, Tracie, said. "I really don't. He just doesn't talk about his achievements."

Added his father, also named Allen: "He hasn't brought it up, not once with me. Allen talks the most about him and Adrian Amos, as far as D-back and wide receiver. That's what he talks about, about making each other better."

Neither Robinson nor his family are even sure where that record-setting pigskin is. It's not resting on a desk inside his dorm, nor is it on the family's mantle. The Robinsons said they never really thought about it; a Penn State spokesman said he didn't think anyone ever pulled it aside for the museum located inside the very stadium Robinson set the record.

Not that the younger Robinson really seems to mind. He's looking ahead. Without an experienced quarterback, the wideout with the 37-inch vertical took it upon himself this summer to organize the team. He'd wake up every morning at exactly 5:05 -- just enough time to rush to the football building by 5:30 -- lift, then grab a quick breakfast before heading to class and later sending out mass texts for some 7-on-7s or extra route-running drills.

"He was the one initiating all those sessions," wideout Matt Zanellato said. "There were some times where we'd be doing so much that Fitz (strength coach Craig Fitzgerald) would send out a text saying, 'Take this afternoon off. You guys need to relax.'"

Robinson mostly heeded Fitzgerald's words, "but it's just me trying to be a leader. And a lot of it's how good do we really want to be this year? Do we want to be 8-4 again -- or do we want to be 12-0?"

The 6-foot-3 wideout, the recipient of last year's Richter-Howard Receiver of the Year Award, is nine pounds heavier this season. He's faster, he's become accustomed to all the receiver spots, and he's improved his route-running. Put simply, the Big Ten's best wideout is even better.

Assistant coach Stan Hixon has taught quite a few great ones, such as Buffalo Bills' leading WR Stevie Johnson and first-round draft pick Michael Clayton. Robinson reminds him a bit of Clayton -- "tough, tough, tough" -- but Hixon believed the player affectionately known as A-Rob still has a ways to go in 2013.

"He's going to be really good," Hixon said. "But he's just good right now. With the guys I've been around, he's got that ceiling. He has the potential to be better, so my expectation is higher than what a lot of people think."

Robinson, as serious a player as there is on the Nittany Lions, was relayed that message from Hixon: Good, but not yet really good. The Michigan native glanced down, trying to conceal a quick grin -- the first and only smile in 15 minutes of speaking.

"I would say he's right," Robinson said.

"There's a lot of things I can do to improve my game. Last year, I had a decent year -- so I'm just trying to improve off that. There were some catches last year I didn't come down with, so I'm just trying to improve."

That became the third, and final, time Robinson used "decent." So, clearly, those records and those accolades are in the past for the Penn State receiver. He's hoping last season isn't a highlight -- he's convinced it's just the beginning for him and these Nittany Lions.

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- It was a record-breaking day for Penn State.

Allen Robinson set the Nittany Lions' single-season receptions record in the first quarter, and Matt McGloin set a school record for yards in a single season and career touchdowns.

Behind a strong offensive effort -- highlighted by performances from Robinson and McGloin -- the Nittany Lions overcame a slow start to throttle Indiana 45-22 Saturday.

Robinson now has 73 receptions, surpassing the record of 63 set by former PSU greats Bobby Engram and O.J. McDuffie. McGloin boasts 3,071 passing yards this season and 45 career passing touchdowns.

With the win, Penn State's record improves to 7-4 (5-2 Big Ten), while Indiana falls to 4-7 (2-5 Big Ten).

It was over when: Zach Zwinak crossed the goal line for a 1-yard touchdown late in the third quarter. The Hoosiers were building momentum, but that score put an end to it. PSU led 35-22 at that point, and Indiana wouldn't threaten again.

Game ball goes to: Robinson. Not only did he set the single-season receptions record on his first catch of the game, but he caused problems for Indiana all day. He was responsible for the Nittany Lions' first three touchdowns and finished with 10 catches for 197 yards.

Stat of the game: 482 -- Penn State's offensive yardage in the first three quarters, when the game was still in doubt. Indiana couldn't stop the Nittany Lions on the ground or through the air.

Turning point: In the third quarter, with Indiana trailing by only six, Bill O'Brien found his team facing fourth-and-10 on his opponent's 33. He decided to go for it -- surprise, surprise -- and McGloin found Brandon Moseby-Felder for a 12-yard gain. That key play set up a touchdown.

Unsung hero: Gerald Hodges. With the injury to Michael Mauti, Penn State's other outside linebacker stepped up. He showed just why he's a Butkus Award candidate with 12 tackles and an interception. Hodges was this defense's playmaker Saturday.

Unsung hero, part deux: Cameron Coffman. With no help from the running game, Coffman was forced to throw often -- and he did a pretty good job. He threw two interceptions, but one came when he pressed while trailing by three touchdowns. He finished with 454 passing yards.


Allen Robinson's turning point at Penn State might have been the low point for everyone else.

The transfers of several key Penn State players both before and after the NCAA leveled sanctions against the program in July was labeled charitably as a setback and, seemingly more realistically, as a disaster. Arguably no position group suffered more than wide receiver. Top target Justin Brown bolted for Oklahoma. Devon Smith, a returning starter, left the team in June before the sanctions hit and eventually landed at Marshall. The team's top returning pass-catcher was Shawney Kersey with five receptions in 2011 -- and he, too, would eventually depart the team.

Many wondered who would catch passes for Penn State in 2012. Robinson knew the answer. It's why he viewed Penn State's summer turmoil as something different -- an opportunity.

[+] EnlargeAllen Robinson
Rich Barnes/US PresswireAllen Robinson went from three catches as a freshman to tops in the Big Ten in TD grabs this year.
"As the sanctions and everything else happened, my expectations for myself got a little bit larger," Robinson told ESPN.com. "We had Silas Redd leave, Justin Brown leave. We didn't have that many guys [left], so I definitely knew I'd have a bigger role.

"I just wanted to produce when my number was called."

Has he ever. Robinson not only has cemented himself as Penn State's No. 1 wide receiver, but he's also quite possibly the best in the Big Ten.

The 6-foot-3, 201-pound true sophomore leads the Big Ten in both receptions (57) and receptions per game (6.3) -- nearly a full catch more per game than any other player in the league. He also leads the league in touchdown receptions (8) and trails only Wisconsin's Jared Abbrederis in receiving yards per game (76.6). Robinson also holds the team record for receptions by a sophomore and needs just seven receptions to break the Penn State single-season record of 63 held by both Bobby Engram (1995) and O.J. McDuffie (1992).

While senior quarterback Matt McGloin is the most pleasant surprise in Penn State's suddenly potent offense, Robinson, who had just three receptions as a freshman in 2011, isn't far behind.

"I knew I would have to step up for this team if we wanted to win some games," Robinson said.

Robinson notes that the transfers, particularly Brown, increased his ability to make an impact. First-year Lions coach Bill O'Brien sees thinks differently.

"He knew whether Justin Brown was here or not," O'Brien said, "that he was going to be a major part of this offense."

O'Brien knew before anyone else what type of season Robinson could have. Robinson immediately caught O'Brien's eye during winter workouts, weeks after the coach had taken the Penn State job.

"You could see right away that he was a big kid that had very, very smooth athleticism," O'Brien said. "He could come in and out of cuts real well."

Spring practice only increased O'Brien's confidence in the young receiver. O'Brien brought in his offense from the NFL's New England Patriots, but Robinson was a quick study.

Robinson showed the staff he could play both outside receiver spots as well as the slot, unique versatility for such a tall receiver.

"He caught the ball real well in the spring," O'Brien said. "We knew going into the summertime that we had a guy there who had a chance to be really productive for us."

O'Brien tabbed Robinson as a co-starter with Kersey on the post-spring depth chart. Brown and Smith also were named starters at receiver.

Robinson spent much of the summer working with McGloin, named in June as the Lions' starting quarterback. They built a chemistry that has repeatedly shown up in games, particularly in the red zone. Between Sept. 8 and Oct. 20, Robinson caught touchdown passes from McGloin in five of six games, including three against Navy and two against Northwestern.

"Matt has thrown that ball that you guys see in games to me hundreds of times [in workouts]," Robinson said. "Matt definitely trusts me in those situations to go get it, and I definitely trust and believe in him that he's going to make the throw."

Robinson has embraced the detail-oriented approach needed to succeed in O'Brien's offense. While the Lions might not be perfect on every play, "we can try," Robinson said.

O'Brien oversaw one of the NFL's top passing offenses with the Patriots, but he hasn't had many weapons quite like Robinson.

"We had guys in New England that were about 5-foot-9, 5-foot-10 for the most part," O'Brien said. "We had Randy Moss there, but obviously Randy Moss is a Hall of Fame player. Allen is a tall guy, he runs well, he can jump, he's got really good hands, he's very smart. He can do a lot of different things on the route tree. He's not just a vertical threat. He can run underneath things. He can catch screens.

"So he's got a very unique set that really I haven't been around in my career."

Robinson saw a big opportunity after Brown's departure, but he was sorry to see Brown go. Brown took Robinson under his wing when Robinson arrived at Penn State, and the two roomed together on road trips during the 2011 season.

They still talk regularly, mostly not about football, although Robinson noted Brown's strong performance for Oklahoma in last week's victory against Iowa State.

"Justin is still a really good friend," Robinson said.

Brown made his choice, while Robinson opted to stay at Penn State. Not surprisingly, Robinson and other Lions young standouts such as defensive end Deion Barnes have been asked frequently whether they'll stick around State College after the season. Robinson has consistently affirmed his commitment to the program.

"Hearing [questions] about transferring and things like that, it does kind of overwhelm us sometimes, but you have to deal with it," he said. "Coach O’Brien always tells me the opportunities to make big plays are definitely going to be there.

"It definitely gives you some insight on what I could potentially do here."
Thanks to user Lavar A. from Silver Spring, Md., for inspiring this post:
We're coming up on the one-year anniversary of Nebraska joining the B1G and pretty much have completed a cycle of sports. How would you rate this experiment? Was the first year good for Nebraska and the B1G? Any surprises? How does it compare to PSU's first year in the B1G? In football, what do you think Nebraska's chances are to pull a PSU in their 2nd year and run the table?

Before delving into these questions, let's look at how the two teams stacked up.

PENN STATE, 1993

Record: 10-2 (6-2 Big Ten, 3rd)
Bowl result: 31-13 win against Tennessee in Florida Citrus Bowl
Regular-season highlight: Penn State rallied from a 37-17 third-quarter deficit at No. 24 Michigan State to win 38-37
Low point: 24-6 loss at No. 3 Ohio State
Record versus ranked opponents: 3-2
Final rankings: No. 8 AP, No. 7 coaches'
Stats: first in Big Ten in scoring (32.3 ppg), fifth in points allowed (17.9 ppg)
First-team All-Big Ten selections: 3 (TE Kyle Brady, WR Bobby Engram, G Jeff Hartings)

NEBRASKA, 2011

Record: 9-4 (5-3 Big Ten, 3rd in Legends division)
Bowl result: 30-13 loss to South Carolina in Capital One Bowl
Regular-season highlight: Nebraska dominated Michigan State, handing the eventual Legends division champ a 24-3 beat-down in Lincoln
Low point: The week after the Michigan State triumph, Nebraska fell to 2-5 Northwestern on its home field
Record versus ranked opponents: 2-2
Final rankings: No. 24 AP, No. 24 coaches'
Stats: fourth in Big Ten in scoring (29.2 ppg), seventh in points allowed (23.4 ppg)
First-team All-Big Ten selections: 4 (RB Rex Burkhead, K/P Brett Maher, LB Lavonte David, CB Alfonzo Dennard)

Penn State undoubtedly had the better first season in Big Ten play, but the teams shared some similarities. Both had the ability to put up points but underwhelmed a bit on the defensive side. Both struggled against the league's elite teams: Penn State's only losses came against Ohio State and Michigan, while Nebraska fell to BCS bowl participants Wisconsin and Michigan. Nebraska actually has the best win between the two squads, against then-No. 9 Michigan State, but the Huskers also have the only bad loss (Northwestern at home). The teams had about the same number of first-team All-Big Ten players (four versus three).

The Big Ten was a stronger league in 1993 than it was in 2011. Wisconsin won the Rose Bowl and the Big Ten went 4-3 overall in the postseason with its top four teams -- Wisconsin, Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan -- all winning games. The Big Ten went 3-5 in bowl games last season with losses by Wisconsin, Nebraska, Ohio State and Penn State on Jan. 2.

To answer Lavar's question, Nebraska's first year in the Big Ten turned out OK, not great. Some of us, including yours truly, overestimated the difficulty the Huskers would have moving to a new league. Although Nebraska delivered some impressive performances, it also had some clunkers (Wisconsin, Michigan) and seemed to be a bit fragile in handling success.

Can Nebraska replicate what Penn State did in its second year as a Big Ten member (12-0 record, Rose Bowl championship)? It will be extremely tough, but the Huskers are confident they can take a giant step this fall. The key for Big Red will be to mirror Penn State's evolution on offense. The Lions went from a good offense in 1993 to a record-setting one in 1994, as they had the highest scoring average (47 ppg) for a Big Ten team in the modern era and averaged a league-record 48.1 points in league games. Nebraska returns eight starters on offense and will be in its second year in coordinator Tim Beck's system. The Huskers also expect to make upgrades on defense after backsliding in 2011.

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