Anticipation for THON game as season nears end

The Nittany Lions are 6-3. While a season filled with playoff aspirations has been all but lost, there is still much to play for. Penn State is still lobbying for a prestigious bowl game and some of the young and talented Lions could see more playing time as the 2018 season comes to an end.

Coming off Penn State’s first double-digit loss since 2016, coach James Franklin simply said, “We did not play well. We have to take responsibility for that.”

The final score last week was 42-7 but with less than a minute remaining in the third quarter, Michigan was only leading 14-0.

“When you see the final score, it would probably tell you something different if you hadn’t watched the game.” Franklin said. “Our defense did some really nice things.”

Penn State hosts Wisconsin this Saturday, hoping to extend its nine-game winning streak against Big Ten West opponents. The last time these teams played was in the 2016 Big Ten Championship game. The stage won’t be as big for this game, but James Franklin’s expectations haven’t changed.

“There’s no one in this building who’s comfortable where we’re at. Our standards and expectations are to win every game we play.” Franklin said. “We have very high standards on who we are and what we want to be.”

The high standards of Penn State will once again be tested this week. Wisconsin is coming in with the No. 1 ranked rushing attack in the country, anchored by sophomore running back and FBS-leading rusher Jonathon Taylor.  The Badgers are averaging a ridiculous 273 rushing yards per game, while the Penn State defense is allowing 172.2 rushing yards against.

Opposite Taylor, Miles Sanders has also done a great job of running the football this season. Sanders has eight touchdowns this year, is averaging 5.9 yards per carry and is only 152 yards away from 1,000 yards this year.

“Miles has shown that he can be a big-play back in this conference.” Franklin said.

Although the rushing defense hasn’t been spectacular this year the Nittany Lions have done a great job attacking the line of scrimmage. Their 7.4 tackles for a loss per game have them leading the Big Ten.

“We’ve just got to get a little better in each area every week.” Franklin said. “Our guys want the team to be successful. Right now we’re kind of waiting for someone to make a play.”

Trace McSorley has been making plays since he arrived in Happy Valley and this season is no exception. McSorley is second in the Big Ten this season with 14 points responsible for per game.  In addition to reaching 9,000 career passing yards last week, McSorley is only two touchdowns away from 100 career touchdowns.

Saturday’s game will be a THON day in Happy Valley. THON has raised more than $147,000,000 for families impacted by childhood cancer and come Saturday, the Nittany Lions will wear THON stickers on their helmets. Penn State vs. Wisconsin will kick off at noon. The Nittany Lions are currently 9-point favorites.





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