It’s not often siblings get the opportunity to compete against one another at any level, let alone the highest level of college football. But fraternal twins Blake and Tyler Gillikin got that chance on Saturday, and although they weren’t on the field together, there were plenty of bragging rights up for grabs.
Penn State’s Gillikin, Blake, sits at No. 3 in Big Ten punting average with 44.2 yards per game; his brother Tyler serves as Northwestern’s long snapper. Saturday’s contest was the first time the brothers had ever played against one another.
Coming off one of the best games of his career, Gillikin shed some light on the afternoon — including what it was like to be his brother’s opponent. “It was great, obviously seeing him play — I haven’t seen [Tyler] play in two years,” Gillikin said. “That was awesome being in the same place as him, giving him a big hug before the game was awesome. This is our only head-to-head matchup, so I’ll definitely be pushing for bragging rights on this one.”
Playing is one thing, but as parents, it’s almost impossible to pick sides in this Big Ten sibling rivalry. So, the Gillikin family came up with a compromise by splitting their rooting interest right down the middle — literally:
With custom-made Gillikin jerseys, Blake and Tyler’s family took to Ryan Field in style. Aesthetically, the gear is about as unique as gear can get, but the story behind the jerseys — and more specifically, how they got to Ryan field — is even better.
“Both my grandparents and both my parents have that jersey,” Gillikin said. “It was sewn together in Atlanta, and my mom shipped it up to Pennsylvania, Connor McGovern’s mom helped her out. They got it all printed and everything, so that’ll be a nice memento from this game for the rest of our lives.”
The Gillikin family stuck to their word, remaining relatively neutral watching their boys compete against one another. “We kind of had two sides,” Gillikin said. “My mom really didn’t want to cheer at all because she felt like she’d be cheering against one guy. My grandfather was like ‘It’s great, whenever anyone scores, I get to cheer.'”
It’s an experience the Gillikin family will surely treasure for the rest of their lives as their boys continue their respective careers. Penn State’s Gillikin leaves Evanston as the victorious son, but this game wasn’t just about a little sibling rivalry.
Gillikin was faced with stiff winds all day long and still managed to boot a long of 50 yards and down three balls inside the 20-yard line. Gillikin showed some emotion during the game — and who could blame him? His unit was rolling, wind or no wind. “This stadium’s pretty tough to play in because of the wind,” Gillikin said. “My brother said it’s probably the windiest he’s ever seen it. I’ve never punted in a windier practice or game.”
While Penn State’s kicking game may be suffering as of late, its punting game is among the conference’s best. Luckily, the Nittany Lions sided correctly in this sibling rivalry.