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Penn State Football Not Buying ‘Revenge Game’ Hype Ahead Of Indiana Rematch

Does anyone need a reminder of Penn State football’s season-opening loss to Indiana last October?

Well, James Franklin’s squad fell to the Hoosiers in Bloomington thanks to an overtime heartbreaker. Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. scored on a controversial two-point conversion call that locked up a 36-35 victory to jumpstart Indiana’s season.

In week five of the 2021 season, however, the fourth-ranked Nittany Lions have a shot at revenge at a 2-2 Indiana squad in a prime-time Beaver Stadium atmosphere. However, that’s not how Franklin wants his team to look at it.

“Our entire focus and energy is beating Indiana this Saturday, this season,” Franklin said. “Although previous records are interesting to look at…at the end of the day, all that really matters is you have to find a way to beat the team that you are playing this Saturday.”

Veteran defensive tackle PJ Mustipher saw plenty of the field in last year’s devastating loss to Indiana. Still, the senior echoed his coach’s sentiment Tuesday that revenge isn’t bringing any extra motivation to Saturday’s clash with the Hoosiers.

“Nah man, we don’t believe in revenge games,” Mustipher said. “We just focus on this week. We can’t focus on last year, because last year already happened. We can’t do nothing about that…We’re focused on getting ready for this 2021 Indiana team.

“They’re extremely talented, so all our focus is going into getting ready and preparing the best we can for them,” Mustipher added.

While the Hoosiers have opened this season 2-2 with losses to Iowa and Cincinnati, they still have plenty of talent. Even without revenge in mind, Franklin noted that the Nittany Lions will still look back at plenty of tape from last year’s matchup since Indiana returns a total of 22 starters to the 2021 squad.

One of those returners is Penix, who totaled 170 passing yards and two scores against the Nittany Lions last year. Before a torn ACL cut his sophomore season short, Penix racked up 1,654 passing yards and 14 touchdowns in six games played.

“He’s an elite quarterback. He can do it all, for real,” Mustipher said. “Being familiar with him, you get to see him, you’ve played against him, you know what they do a little bit…”

On top of his pure ability, Penix’s experience as a Hoosier could also play a role as he enters a hostile environment. After redshirting the 2018 campaign, the quarterback started six games in 2019 before hitting that same mark last season. He boasts 16 starts under center for the Hoosiers with a 12-4 record to boot.

“He’s a veteran that’s played a lot of football for them. Obviously, last year, he had a special year,” Franklin said. “He’s had to fight through injuries. I think all of that adversity, when handled the right way, helps you. That’s gonna be a key factor in this game — how well he plays and how consistently we can get to him.”

While the Nittany Lions say they don’t see any added motivation due to last year’s loss, perhaps they can just consider how closely the Hoosiers have played them in recent matchups. Even before the 2020 debacle, Tom Allen’s group lost by just a touchdown at Beaver Stadium in 2019 and by five points in Bloomington back in 2018.

No matter how the coaches and players look at it, Penn State is taking Indiana plenty seriously entering week five.

“Tom’s done a really good job. I think they’ve got a good scheme, I think they play hard, and I think they’ve recruited well,” Franklin said. “They’ve improved. That improvement has allowed them to win a few more games and has allowed them to play pretty much everybody in a competitive way.”

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About the Author

Will Pegler

Will is a senior majoring in digital and print journalism and is an associate editor for Onward State. He is from Darien, Connecticut and is a lifelong Penn State football fan. He loves a good 80's comedy movie, Peaky Blinders, The Office, and the New York Yankees and Giants. You can catch some of his ridiculous sports takes on his Twitter @gritdude and yell at him on his email [email protected]

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