James Franklin is an excellent coach. He’s a superb recruiter and expertise developer. He’s additionally come up maddeningly quick in massive spots.
Saturday night time was simply the most recent instance of his shortcomings, his determination to not take three knees up a degree with 1:46 remaining, in possession of the ball and the opposition with only one timeout left.
It wound up costing Penn State it’s opener, a gut-punch of a 36-35 loss in overtime that offers the Nittany Lions’ playoff hopes a extreme blow. Devyn Ford scored on a 14-yard landing run, giving Indiana an opportunity to tie it, a chance it might not have had in any other case. The Hoosiers received it in additional time — their first top-10 win since 1987 — on quarterback Michael Penix’s two-point conversion run which will or might not have been the fitting name because it appeared his left arm might have been out of bounds earlier than the ball crossed the airplane of the objective line.
It ought to by no means have gotten to that time. Afterwards, Franklin mentioned, “It’s my job to ensure everybody understands these conditions, and clearly proper there, that didn’t occur.” Ford clearly wasn’t conscious of it till it was too late, and he had scored a landing. It was a danger not value taking.
As an alternative of a feel-good, come-from-behind win, Penn State begins this shortened season with a brutal loss, the sort of defeat it has been unable to flee beneath Franklin, the kind of loss that has considerably overshadowed all the great he has carried out.
I wrote that very sentence on this area just a few weeks in the past. Franklin has elevated Penn State. He has led this system again into the nationwide dialog. It has received 11 video games three of the earlier 4 years.
However the Nittany Lions have didn’t take the following step. They haven’t gone from good to nice due to their incapability to win shut video games like this one. Final yr, there was a five-point loss at Minnesota. The yr earlier than, losses to Michigan State and Ohio State by a mixed 5 factors. And the yr earlier than, losses to the identical two groups by 4 factors.
A part of that’s on Franklin’s game-management points. A few of it’s on execution. Each had been components in opposition to the Hoosiers. Franklin didn’t have his crew able to play, trailing 17-7 at halftime. It missed three area targets. It out-gained Indiana greater than two to 1, 488-211, and but nonetheless suffered the damaging upset.
This recreation wasn’t merely misplaced on the botched play late in regulation, however at that time, the sport was received. A coach has to place his gamers in the most effective place to win. That’s the job. At occasions, that hasn’t occurred beneath Franklin’s watch at Penn State. That’s why this program has didn’t take the following step from good to nice.
Now, except Penn State can knock off Ohio State on Saturday, its playoff hopes are all however over. So is a shot on the Large Ten East title. Already, this season has gone sideways for the Nittany Lions with a loss that Franklin received’t be capable to shake anytime quickly. Will probably be a part of his résumé.
Getting a Greg up
Hand up, I used to be lukewarm on the return of Greg Schiano. I didn’t fairly get the obsession with Rutgers followers wanting so desperately to convey him again. Attempting to recreate previous success usually backfires. I perceive higher now. To be sincere, I used to be considerably bought after his introductory press convention, the keenness he confirmed that day, the fireplace he had in discussing the state college. It was obvious within the sort of teaching employees he put collectively and the robust begin it has gottten off to on the recruiting path. It was flat-out apparent on Saturday that this has a robust probability of understanding nicely, Schiano main heavy-underdog Rutgers to a convincing 38-27 victory at Michigan State, snapping a 21-game Large Ten shedding streak. Look, the Spartans is probably not any good. It was only one recreation. However all Schiano wants is a modicum of success this yr, to point out recruits and coaches the probabilities. With that in thoughts, he couldn’t have gotten off to a greater begin.
Hit & Mich’
From Jake Rudock to Wilton Speight to Shea Patterson, Jim Harbaugh’s 5 seasons at Michigan have been typified by underwhelming quarterback play. It has held again a gifted program that has failed to succeed in lofty expectations. Joe Milton could also be totally different. He waited his flip in Ann Arbor, and seemed able to being The Man on Saturday night time, producing 277 yards and two touchdowns in a formidable win at Minnesota. The junior, a former four-star recruit, was in a position to full 15 of twenty-two passes to 9 totally different receivers and in addition run for 52 yards, showcasing his potential to harm a protection in a number of methods. Harbaugh might lastly have his quarterback, which might give the Wolverines a leg up on their latest groups.
1. Alabama (5-0) (Final week: 2)
Jaylen Waddle’s season-ending ankle harm is dangerous for Alabama and dangerous for school soccer. One of many sport’s premier gamebreakers, Waddle is a deal with to look at and his loss is a major blow to the Crimson Tide.
2. Clemson (6-0) (2)
Three of the previous 4 years Syracuse has both overwhelmed Clemson or put a scare into the ACC powerhouse, because it did on Saturday, trailing by simply six factors late within the third quarter earlier than Trevor Lawrence and Co. pulled away. The oddsmakers ought to’ve thought-about that when making Clemson 46-point favorites.
3. Ohio State (1-0) (3)
As anticipated, the offense is electrical and the protection has work to do. There weren’t any actual surprises within the Buckeyes’ 52-17 rout of Nebraska.
4. Georgia (3-1) (4)
Stetson Bennett stays Georgia’s quarterback. Wrestle in opposition to Kentucky and that adjustments, particularly with Florida developing the next Saturday.
5. Notre Dame (5-0) (6)
I’m nonetheless not bought on the Irish as a playoff contender, however they at the least seemed like a possible risk in a 45-3 pasting of Pittsburgh after consecutive underwhelming wins.
6. Florida (2-1) (7)
After the COVID-19 breakout led to consecutive postponements, the Gators get a gentle touchdown spot at house in opposition to Missouri. Let’s simply say they received’t be packing the swamp, as coach Dan Mullen foolishly recommended previous to the unfold of the virus inside his program.
7. Cincinnati (4-0) (8)
Listen, Faculty Soccer Playoff committee. Cincinnati’s manhandling of SMU warrants your focus.
8. Oklahoma State (4-0) (9)
The offense has but to take off and the Cowboys are nonetheless undefeated, a nod to the shocking protection that’s permitting simply 9.0 factors per recreation, the third-fewest within the nation.
9. Texas A&M (3-1) (10)
With street video games remaining in opposition to Tennessee, Auburn and South Carolina, and LSU highlighting the house schedule, don’t be stunned if the Aggies win out.
10. Michigan (1-0) (NR)
Does Jim Harbaugh lastly have a potent offense? For one night time, it seemed prefer it, as Michigan rolled up 478 yards of offense in a one-sided win at Minnesota.
Dropped out: Penn State (0-1)
Heisman Watch (in alphabetical order)
RB Travis Etienne, Clemson
Three dashing touchdowns, two within the fourth quarter to place Syracuse away, and 106 complete yards for the longer term Sunday star.
QB Justin Fields, Ohio State
That’s the way you kick off a Heisman marketing campaign, by connecting on 20 of 21 passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns, and operating for one more 54 yards and a rating.
QB Mac Jones, Alabama
The superior numbers proceed for Jones as he threw for 387 yards on 25 of 31 passing in a blowout of Tennessee.
QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
This wasn’t his greatest efficiency — two touchdowns, an interception and season-low 62.8 completion proportion in a win over Syracuse — nevertheless it received’t damage him an excessive amount of, both.
QB Kyle Trask, Florida
The senior was off to a improbable begin, throwing 14 touchdowns, one interception and finishing 71.8 % of his passes, earlier than the Gators’ COVID-19-induced layoff.