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The Revitalization of Penn State Football

College football is back and this weekend gifted college football fans a perfectly wrapped package. Some may not view that package as perfect as others, with upsets such as unranked Texas over #10 Notre Dame, #15 Houston over #3 Oklahoma or Wisconsin over #5 LSU. Overall, if this weekend was a glimpse of what’s to come this football season, fans better buckle up. It is going to be a joyously thrilling ride.

The Revitalization of Penn State Football

Penn State opened against Kent State in Beaver stadium on Saturday afternoon. Although initially connections weren’t as smooth, the Nittany Lions managed to record 354 total offensive yards–105 yards recorded by sophomore running back Saquon Barkley. Not only did Trace McSorley show his emergence as the new leader of the offensive, but the 107,000 fans in attendance in Beaver Stadium, as well as the countless others watching via television, were able to see just how versatile the defensive side of the ball can be throughout the season. Penn State has a deep group of defensive backs; a total of eight were played against Kent State. If each of those eight are consistently ready to play come each game week, opposing teams are going to have their work cut out for them in preparation on the defensive side, alone.

Revival of a Rivalry—Keystone Classic

This coming Saturday, the Nittany Lions will travel 150 miles west to Pittsburgh, PA. They face off against an old rival, University of Pittsburgh, in Heinz Field. News was just released that the game is to be televised on ESPN. Currently, the Nittany Lions have a 50-42-4 advantage over the Pittsburgh Panthers. They will look to add to that record at noon Eastern Time.

The Panthers opened their season, Saturday, with a win against Villanova (28-7); but the true highlight was the return of junior running back James Conner who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in November 2015.  He showed the resilience to not only return to the game of football but earn his starting position as well. The Nittany Lions will be battling the physical toughness of Conner. He recorded 17 carries for 53 yards and a touchdown. They will be battling his mental toughness as well.

On paper, the Nittany Lions seem to have the advantage in that they are a more balance team offensively. Against Kent State, the Nittany Lions recorded 209 receiving yards and 145 rushing yards as opposed to Pittsburgh’s 175 receiving and 86 rushing yards. However, anything can happen in rivalry games. Emotions and the will to win become stronger; such games establish which school truly dominates the state in regards to football. If the rivalry is as strong and polarizing as former players and students of both respective schools claims it is, Saturday is promising to bring an electric feeling to the state of Pennsylvania. This game will only be the beginning of the rebirth of another classic rivalry.

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