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Penn State Football

‘A Pretty Big Ten Win’: Penn State HC James Franklin Pleased With Team’s Fight at Illinois

Photo by Matt Lynch, Nittany Sports Now: James Franklin

Penn State football’s win at Illinois Saturday left a lot of fans understandably dissatisfied.

Yes, Penn State won, and sure, it even covered a two-touchdown spread.

But fans who watched that game saw multiple reasons for aggregation.

For one, Penn State turned Illinois over three times in the first quarter and only scored 13 total points off those turnovers. As a result, Illinois went into halftime down a manageable 16-7. Penn State also made plenty of physical and mental errors.

Physically, receiver Malik McClain dropped two passes that would have been first downs.

On the mental side, Penn State committed seven penalties for 70 yards, including offenses by the team’s top OL, Olu Fashanu, and receiver, KeAndre Lambert-Smith.

It wasn’t perfect, and coach James Franklin knows that.

At the same time, Franklin’s always appreciated how difficult it is to win by any margin in college football.

“That was a pretty Big Ten win on the road,” Franklin told reporters in his postgame presser. “I appreciate winning. It’s hard to do. You watch college football, each week, there’s games where there’s upsets, and games where you have to grind it out. So that was a big-time win for us on the road, especially when you kind of take all that factors that we look at into it.”

Evidence from as recently as today back up Franklin’s point. No. 3 Florida State only beat Boston College by two, and No. 15 Kansas State lost at Missouri on a 61-yard field goal.

Sixty one is one yard shy of the yards Penn State held Illinois to rushing— 62.

Franklin noted that stat, as well as the defense forcing five turnovers.

But he also noted that, despite the offense receiving criticism for its play, Drew Allar and company not turning it over was a key point in the win.

“Everybody’s going to talk about the five turnovers, and then deservedly so, they should be,” Franklin said, “but then the other thing is our offense not turning the ball over as well. You do those things, you’re going to win a lot of games. Those things obviously have a huge impact.”


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