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College GameDay Skeptical Of Penn State’s Injuries, Iowa Fans’ Boos

All week long, we’ve heard Penn State and Iowa fans go back on forth on accusations of faking injuries and booing student-athletes. We even saw hell freeze over when Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi took James Franklin’s side. However, College GameDay’s hosts and analysts don’t seem too inclined to take a side.

Live from Athens, Ga., on Saturday, ESPN’s flagship college football morning show spent a few minutes in its morning broadcast diving into last week’s Penn State-Iowa matchup and the fallout from it. More specifically, the spotlight landed on Iowa’s injury-booing and head coach James Franklin’s defensive comments.

Iowa fans tirelessly heckled Penn State’s defensive injuries last weekend — there’s just no way around it. A few days later, head coach Kirk Ferentz doubled down on the booing and said the Hawkeye faithful probably “smelled a rat.” Ferentz’s argument still doesn’t add up, though, and College GameDay host Rece Davis isn’t buying it, either.

“Taking a dive to slow down Iowa is sort of like putting out glue boards to slow down a three-toed sloth,” Davis said during the show. “I mean, could you even really tell the difference?”

Against Penn State, Iowa posted just a 33% offensive success rate, which wound up as the nation’s 11th worst last weekend, according to ESPN. The Hawkeyes’ huddle-up offense didn’t indicate much of a high-tempo attack, either.

Davis noted that both Ferentz and Franklin are buying into “different truths” following the game. Although he said slowing down Iowa isn’t very necessary, Davis noted some Penn State injuries did happen to follow some big gains.

Franklin estimated that 70% of his injured players didn’t return to the game, and captain and defensive tackle PJ Mustipher had his season ended after going down on the Hawkeyes’ fifth play of the game.

Desmond Howard, a proud Michigan football alum, said Franklin’s five-minute speech defending Penn State’s injuries was a little overdramatic, particularly comments that booing hurt players is tainting college football. The longtime GameDay host argued crowd reactions shouldn’t get to you in college football.

“The thing is, there are people who are faking it out there sometimes, but you never know. You should never let the crowd control your emotions because they’re irrelevant to the whole equation, to be honest with you,” Howard said. “If you’re letting the crowd control your emotions, you’re in the wrong sport.”

Kirk Herbstreit, who’s usually seen as one of Penn State’s largest closeted fans, offered little support for Franklin or the Nittany Lions. The former Ohio State quarterback said faking injuries is nothing new but remains highly unethical.

Analyst David Pollack took a particularly tough stance against Iowa special teams coordinator LeVar Woods mockingly falling over on the sideline after a Nittany Lion went down.

“It’s like when kids talk trash — that’s one thing,” Pollack said. “But coaches don’t come in and talk trash to kids.”

Now a week removed from Penn State and Iowa’s clash, it certainly feels like time to move on, especially considering there’ll never be a definitive “winner” of this kind of argument. It’s possible these two teams could meet again to vie for a Big Ten title, though, but Penn State would likely need to run the table and win its remaining six games. Either way, it feels like there’s a rivalry brewing between these programs.

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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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