Phil Collins is a part of Penn State football.
Fans hear Collins’s “In the air Tonight” every year during the White Out game as the team is getting ready to take the field.
But coach James Franklin decided to take a break from Collins this week.
To put it mildly, Northwestern isn’t Penn State.
The fact that the two schools are in the same conference are practically the only similarity they share.
Penn State is one of college football’s most historically successful programs, with two national championships.
Northwestern fans once stormed the field to celebrate ending a 34-game losing streak. So the gap between the two programs is wide historically, and seems to be equality wide this season. Penn State’s 4-0 and ranked No. 6. Northwestern’s 2–2 and needed a 21-point fourth-quarter comeback at home to beat Minnesota at home last Saturday.
The announced attendance for that game was 20,148 at Ryan Field.
Meanwhile, at Beaver Stadium, Penn State drew an announced 110,830 for its 31-0 win over Iowa.
Penn State hasn’t played at Northwestern since 2017. Ahead of that game— which ended up being a 31-7 Penn State win— Franklin talked about the team needing to bring its own “juice” due to factors such as the game starting at 11:00 a.m. CT time and Ryan Field not being known for its raucous atmosphere the way Beaver Stadium is.
Penn State came into the game 5-0 and ranked No. 4.
Six years later, not much has changed.
Once again, Penn State will play Northwestern at 11:00 CT, undefeated and highly ranked.
Once again, Franklin’s picturing a BYOJ (Bring Your Own Juice) type of day.
“I think just being honest,” Franklin told reporters at Wednesday’s weekly post-practice media scrum. “Just being very honest about what it’s going to be like. These guys (Northwestern) are 2-0 at home. You look at Northwestern, they’ve typically had good home records. Why? Because it can be challenging to play there. They’re used to the environment. Other people may not be.”
“It’s going to be very different from what we played in last week. So just being transparent and honest. Are we internally motivated or are we externally motivated? But for me to act like it’s not a factor (would be wrong). It is, and we have to get prepared for it.”
A way to prepare for it, Franklin said, was to cut Collins’ hit out of the picture.
“Even our period 20, you guys (media) know, we usually play the Phil Collins, and it’s usually blaring, Franklin said. “They were asking me to turn it up today, and I said ‘no.’” “So just little things like that.”
Regardless of the environment, Franklin knows that Penn State playing well is the biggest key to leaving the state of Illinois with a win.
“At the end of the day, it’s going to be about us executing our jobs and our assignments and playing the game for each other and playing the game for our love of the game of football and for our teammates and playing up to our standard, no matter the circumstances,” he said.