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Tuesdays With James

Tuesdays With James: Franklin Talks Ohio State

Penn State Head Coach James Franklin

No. 13 Penn State is 6-1 this season, and coach James Franklin loves to stress his team’s goal of going “1-0” every week.

After Michigan handed Penn State its first loss of the season in embarrassing fashion Oct. 15 in Ann Arbor, Franklin’s team got back to winning this past weekend, pounding Minnesota, 45-17.

This week, Penn State is looking to finish a week undefeated for the seventh time in 2022, and that won’t be an easy task. Penn State is facing a team that many feel can win a national championship: No. 2 Ohio State.

Franklin has his weekly press conference Tuesday in Beaver Stadium’s media room. “Tuesdays With James” will highlight some of the session’s key points. 

JAMES ON WHY PENN STATE ALWAYS KEEPS IT CLOSE WITH OHIO STATE

Franklin’s record against Ohio State is 1-7, and many fans will use that to criticize the coach.

Yes, going 1-7 against any team is frustrating.

But going 1-7 against Ohio State is less shameful than it would be against most teams, and its not like Penn State hasn’t had its chances to beat the Bucks.

Penn State lost to Ohio State in 2017 and ‘18 by a combined two points, and the other four of the other five losses have been by 13 points or fewer.

The only time a Franklin-coached Penn State team for blown out by Ohio State was 2015, when Ohio State took care of Penn State, 38-10.

It’s also fair to note that Franklin was in just his second season in 2015 and had yet to build up Penn State’s program.

So why is Penn State arguably more competitive with Ohio State head-to-head than any other school?

“I think that’s a fair question,” Franklin said, “and I think that’s one of the things that maybe frustrates people. I’m not talking specific to Penn State; I’m saying, in general, there are certain weeks you feel like you match up better whether it’s scheme or there’s certain weeks whether you match up whether it’s personnel better than other weeks. There’s no doubt about that.

”You may have an injury at a position or two, and that position is where their strength is. There’s a lot of things that factor into it.”

“But to your point, that’s the challenge, right? You’ve got to be able to; you’ve got to be able to feel like you can line up and matchup from a skill and athleticism perspective with an Ohio State one week, and then say you make it to the Big Ten Championship and you play Wisconsin, that’s a very different animal that you’re getting ready for, and you have to either have the depth or the diversity within your personnel to do it.”

JAMES ON PENN STATE’S DBS VS. OHIO STATE’S WRs

Penn State has Joey Porter Jr., Kalen King, Jaylen Reed and Zaire Wheatley in its secondary.

Ohio State has Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Marvin Harrison Jr., Emeka Egbuka and Julian Fleming.

Something has to give.

“That’s (the secondary) a strength of ours for sure,” Franklin said. “We have a lot of confidence in those guys, and we are going to need it.”

JAMES ON TURNOVERS AND EXPLOSIVe PLAYS

Turnovers and explosive plays are always vital. But in a game like this, in particular, they can decide who wins and loses.

“I think turnovers are important every single week,” Franklin said. “It’s one of the most important stats in football. That, and explosive plays. I think to your point, obviously, the bigger the game that people talk about, the bigger the game, those stats are magnified. Explosive plays are magnified. Turnovers are magnified because the margin of error is smaller in those types of games. So, it’s always important, but it’s magnified in games like this.”

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