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Gameday Observations: Indiana

For the first time in forever, Penn State fans had a reason to get out of bed on a Saturday this weekend.

Penn State football’s glorious return was warmly welcomed by fans near and far. And although the team’s most loyal supporters couldn’t attend the Nittany Lions’ matchup against Indiana in person, there was lots of fun to go around.

Here a few things we noticed from the couch, computer, and (virtual) tailgate lots.

Jonathan Sutherland Debuts Sleek No. 0

Safety Jonathan Sutherland made Penn State football history by becoming the program’s first player to wear No. 0.

The honor, made possible by an NCAA ruling earlier this year, was said to be reserved for a player who embodies the team and encompasses its values.

“The individual wearing zero represents all of us and drives our culture. He is a tough, dependable, disciplined, physical leader who inspires teammates with his accountability and production,” the team said in its announcement last weekend.

It’s no surprise that the safety/special teams guru received the honor. Many of his teammates called him a top choice to wear No. 0 when the Nittany Lions announced a special teamer would wear it.

Penn State Debuts New Sideline Gags, Signs

The Nittany Lions’ bench turned a few heads in the third quarter when it debuted a brand-new “turnover thank-you card” after safety Lamont Wade picked off Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr.

“We appreciate your contributions to a brighter future for us and our program. Good looking out!” the card reads.

Penn State wound up generating two turnovers against the Hoosiers, including a forced fumble in the second quarter. Following a generally impressive performance on that side of the ball, it’s safe to say we’ll certainly be seeing more uses of the new sideline gag moving forward.

James Franklin’s team also debuted a few new play-call cards, one of which bluntly read “third down” in big green letters. Neat!

Penn State Moms, Families Show In Full Force

As any Nittany Lion knows, there’s nothing greater than a Penn State mom. Luckily, dozens of them were able to travel to Bloomington to support their sons Saturday.

The Big Ten unanimously ruled it wouldn’t allow fans to attend games this fall but said it would work to bring student-athletes families into stadiums if allowed by local and state guidelines.

Nittany Lions Show Off New ‘Unity’ Logo

Penn State modified its black shoes and basic blues whites Saturday when it debuted a new uniform patch and logo to highlight its commitment to fighting social injustices.

The design, which features two arms joining atop a Pennsylvania outline, comes after the NCAA gave teams the go-ahead to make social justice statements on their uniforms.

“Penn State football student-athletes will wear a logo in competition this year to symbolize our journey for unity,” the team said in a statement announcing the logo. “Our goal is to construct a culture of respect, appreciation, and empathy for all differences. We are a country, state, and institution rooted in diversity, shared experience, and hope.”

The Nittany Lions will wear the new logo on their uniforms, helmets, and warmup shirts this season. Although they may be a bit underwhelming to some, I feel they’re a great addition and help us remember there’s bigger things to worry about than college football.

James Franklin Rocks Badass Shades

Penn State’s 36-35 loss to Indiana was heartbreaking all around. But if there’s one positive, it’s that James Franklin absolutely rocked the sunglasses look and looked even more intimidating thanks to his branded neck gaiter.

Courtesy of Penn State Athletics

I mean, the guy looked like he was straight out of “Top Gun” or “The Terminator”! Of course, Franklin ditched the shades once the sun set a few hours into the four and a half-hour (!) game. Maybe that’s why Penn State lost…

Regardless, Franklin and his Terminator doppelgänger agree on one thing: “I’ll be back…”

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State with distinction in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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