Luck Favors The Lions As The Wins Pile Up
What a difference a month has made for Penn State football. Where it seemed as if Murphy’s Law was in full effect in games against Pitt and Michigan, the team’s flipped the script over the last four contests. Penn State is playing its signature brand of football and isn’t showing any sign of stopping anytime soon.
Sure, the team is performing like many thought it should given the talent it boasts on paper, but no dominant performance is complete without a little bit of luck. Today, luck came in the form of timing — like when Jason Cabinda’s brief helmet issue forced Brandon Smith into action during the third quarter. Smith’s subsequent interception set up Penn State’s scoring drive that helped break the 17-17 stalemate and crack the contest wide open. “I came up to him right after and was like, ‘That must’ve been God’s work right there,'” Cabinda said. “For my helmet to break like that and for him to go out there and make that play, that was huge. I love the rotation we have going on right now at linebacker.”
But it hasn’t been all luck for the Nittany Lions. This team is brimming with talent, and the play of guys like Trace McSorley, Saquon Barkley, and others was refreshing to say the least. But during the past month’s tear, elite-level play has become the norm for the Lions. It’s given the coaching staff confidence — so much, in fact, that offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead called Barkley’s 81-yard touchdown before it even happened. “He called the play and told the O-line, ‘Block it right and 26 is gonna take it for 80,'” Barkley said. “It was kind of funny after I scored the touchdown. Obviously I believed in him and he believed in the call. The O-line did an amazing job on that play.”
The growth this team has exuded is tremendous; 117 points over the last three games and no turnovers in the last 10 quarters of action have this team riding a wave of momentum like no other. But luck also favors the prepared, and there’s no denying this team came ready to play. The Lions didn’t succumb to the dreaded trap some predicted it might coming off such an enormous victory the week prior.
This team was confident, and accomplished a goal Franklin set during practice leading up to the game: Penn State brought the juice. “I didn’t have a sense that we weren’t in the right mindset,” Franklin said. “We actually gave them juice boxes like my daughter drinks. We tried everything.”
Penn State’s incredible October surge has it ranked for the first time in five years and in a position that it hasn’t been in for a long, long time. With momentum on its side, who says something special can’t happen? These Nittany Lions believe in themselves, and it’s evident on the field. James Franklin wants another White Out, too, so the Lions might not even need luck.
On to Iowa.