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Giger: This week should be PSU’s last game of year

Photo from Penn State University Website/Heather Crowder

Let’s take the ball from them, so they can go home. We’ve already made them sacrifice enough for our entertainment and so that everybody could make their millions and millions of dollars off their efforts. Now, let’s do the right thing.

Penn State hosts Michigan State on Saturday in what very well could be — and should be — the final game of the season for the Nittany Lions.

Yes, there’s supposed to be a week nine schedule of Big Ten crossover games next week. But what’s the point of that right now, other than the TV money the games would generate?

So far, nobody seems to have any idea what week nine will even entail.

“It hasn’t even been clearly defined from the Big 10 what that last week is going to look like,” James Franklin said Tuesday.

“When that was decided, I don’t know if everybody kind of thought that the season was going to be like this,” he added.

What has the season been like?

One major challenge and sacrifice after another, for players and coaches all over the country, in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

Isn’t it time we let these guys off the hook. So they can go home for the winter a little earlier and enjoy whatever it is they can with their families and loved ones, the people most of them haven’t been able to see for several months because they’ve had one job and one job only during that time — to stay healthy so that they could play football.

WATCH: Franklin’s press conference Tuesday was perhaps his most interesting of the season

I’m a proponent of going ahead and canceling the week nine games in the Big Ten. We’ve got several teams around the league dealing with major coronavirus issues, including Michigan, which has had to have its annual showdown against Ohio State canceled.

The Big Ten has a major conundrum on its hands about what to do with Ohio State, which has not played the six games required to qualify for the Big Ten title game. But the Buckeyes may need that game so that they can get into the College Football Playoff, which would generate millions of dollars for the Big Ten.

Whatever the league decides with Ohio State, it should go ahead and call off the week nine games for everyone else. As the virus continues to explode throughout the country, we don’t need a bunch of crossover matchups that won’t mean much of anything to anyone, while also dealing with uncertainty all week about whether some of the teams will even be virus-free enough to play.

Even if week nine remains scheduled and Penn State is slated to play someone from the Big Ten West, there’s no guarantee that game will get played because of growing COVID issues and concerns at numerous programs around the league.

Now, a strong case can be made that the week nine game could mean a lot to Penn State. If the Lions beat Michigan State this week, they’ll be 3-5 with three straight wins. If they play again next week and win, that would be 4-5 with a four-game winning streak, and that very likely would give them a chance to go to a bowl game for a chance at a season-ending five-game winning streak.

I’m not going to diminish the significance of what a five-game winning streak could do for PSU heading into the offseason and next year. It would provide a major confidence boost for the program after the disastrous 0-5 start.

But let’s be real here: This year is such a freak, such an anomaly that we really can’t even put too much stock into a season-ending five-game winning streak. At least three of those wins would be against really bad teams, and who knows how much the week nine opponent or bowl opponent would even care about playing those games.

In some ways it would be the most hollow five-game winning streak in PSU history. And with everyone in the country hitting the giant reset button next year, it may not matter much anyway that the Lions are winning these games.

Is it even worth it to go to a bowl game this year? All that would be doing is extending the season and making sure the players would all have to miss a chance to be with their families during the Christmas holidays because they’ll be preparing to play in something like the Duke’s Mayo Bowl or the Guaranteed Rate Bowl.

I can guarantee that either would be the least interesting bowl game Penn State has ever played in.

James Franklin made this powerful comment Tuesday: “I can’t tell you what I would do for a hug from my wife and daughters.”

His family has been living down South for most of the year because his daughter, Addison, has sickle cell disease, a condition that could be very dangerous if she were to test positive for COVID.

How about we let Franklin end the season a little early, so that maybe he could be with his family for Christmas.

How about we do the same for all these Penn State players, and all the players in the Big Ten, by going ahead and canceling the week nine stuff.

Doing so would mean the 3-5 Lions almost certainly wouldn’t be going to a bowl game. But hey, there are more important things in life than sports.

One of them is being able to go home and enjoy life with your family.

Contact Cory Giger at cgsports12@gmail.com.

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Written By

Cory Giger is a 15-year veteran of the Penn State beat and a journalist with 28 years of experience. He has won more than 100 state and national journalism awards during his career, plus he's a voter for the Heisman Trophy in football and Wooden Award in basketball.

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