UNIVERSITY PARK — Penn State coach James Franklin didn’t say much about Ohio State and the impending trip to Columbus following Saturday night’s slaughter of UMass.
It had been a few hundred years since a group of Minutemen had taken a beating that significant, but few were worried about UMass, including Penn State.
Sure, Franklin mentioned the explosiveness of UMass’ offense and rightfully so. UMass entered the game with the 64th-ranked offense in the country— not bad for a team that came in 1-6– though Penn State’s defense quickly dismissed any chance there would be a close game.
It’s Sunday now and Franklin and his program have had plenty of time to enjoy the dismantling. Perhaps he’s even watched some more highlights with his wife.
All eyes for Franklin and company are now laser-focused on Ohio State as they should be. Let’s be honest: The focus on Ohio State has been there dating back further than the bye week despite this quote from Franklin Saturday night.
“Tuesday, I promise I’ll answer all your questions. Wednesday, I’ll answer all your questions,” Franklin said. “Trust me, it’ll have all my attention. And I know it’ll have all your attention and I’ll be happy to talk about it.”
Franklin mentioned his weekly press conference Tuesday and his post-practice availability Wednesday in that statement, which will be when he speaks to the media this week.
He can mention all he wants that they’re not focusing on Ohio State until this week and that’s probably partially true. Sure, they’ve not fully game-planned for them, but to dismiss they’ve not spent time on Ohio State is naive.
Regardless of whether Franklin and his staff have spent time on OSU, the college football world has certainly had this game circled on the calendar since the moment the schedule was released.
The magnitude of this game can not be understated with what’s at stake both nationally and within the Big Ten Conference. ESPN’s College GameDay will be on the ground in Columbus and the game is Fox’s Big Noon Kickoff as their game of the week.
Whoever wins will be in control of their destiny with only a date against Michigan in the way of a Big Ten championship game berth. The winner will also assuredly be firmly ranked among the top two in the country with this being the toughest matchup for those at the top to date.
On the flipside, the loser still has time to recover and stay relevant in the playoff conversation. Life does get harder for the loser, but the matchup with the Wolverines still lurks in the distance for both teams.
This is, to this point, the biggest game of Franklin’s career. With a win, he’ll solidify everything he’s done with PSU.
The 1-0 mentality.
The gripes about NIL and the facilities.
The validation of his contract.
For Franklin and Penn State, the time to beat Ohio State is now. PSU has a dominant defense and despite them not playing a team quite like Ohio State, their performances have still been impressive.
A win would go a long way for Penn State, far further than a win for Ohio State. What’s next is yet to be determined, but all eyes will be on Columbus Saturday afternoon.
Penn State needs to take advantage