Penn State is on quite a roll. The Nittany Lions (7-2) have won five straight games and are ranked tenth in the College Football Playoff rankings. Since beating Ohio State in October, they have won their last two games – at Purdue and against Iowa – by a combined 65 points.
They have been, in short, one of the best teams in the country.
And yet, many analysts feel that this Saturday’s game – Penn State will face Indiana (5-4) in Bloomington at 12 p.m. ET – is a trap game.
Penn State head coach James Franklin insists it won’t be.
“I think first of all Indiana is a good football program,” Franklin said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “I think Coach (Kevin) Wilson has done a good job. Offensively, they’ve been able to score points on everybody. He’s done it since he was at Oklahoma. And then their hire, Tom Allen, on defense has really kind of made them more balanced, and they’ve done a nice job. You could make the same argument for us when we played Purdue: a different environment than what we have here at home, a team that was playing better. They had played Nebraska the week before and were beating them at halftime. The Big Ten has gotten to the point, I think you could make an argument, (of being) maybe the best conference in college football – specifically the East with Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State all in the same side of the conference. But not only that, the other teams in the conference have really done a nice job, so you better come ready to play week in and week out or you’re going to get yourself in trouble. We see it all over the country in every conference. If you don’t come prepared each week, you’re going to get beat.”
Franklin has done a wonderful job at Penn State this season. After finishing 7-6 in 2014 and 2015, he has Penn State ranked in the top 10 and once again a player on the national stage.
Internally, not a lot has changed for Franklin. But externally? Absolutely.
“I think externally, yeah, there’s no doubt about it,” Franklin said. “You go on campus, there’s definitely differences. The emails that are sent to my administrative assistant now compared to before are different. But internally, we don’t change anything. We don’t talk about it. As a coach, I’m paranoid Sundays through Fridays trying to do everything I possibly can to help this team get prepared so we can go out and be successful. On Saturdays, we just go play. We just try and enjoy it and we prepare like crazy so we sleep well on Friday night and wake up Saturday confident and ready to play. But we don’t talk about those other things because they really don’t matter. All that matters is do you find a way to be successful this week? You put a bunch of weeks together, you see what happens at the end of the season and you go from there. We don’t get caught up in it. Like I said, if you drink the Kool-Aid, you’re going to get cavities. We just focus on our process.”