Two big names in college football history squaring off against each other with conference title hopes on the line. It doesn’t get much bigger than that.
This is another chance for members of this football team to play in a great atmosphere. Another chance for them to play on a national stage. Another chance to showcase Bill O’Brien’s team to recruits.
As the Ohio State game was two weeks ago, this is another one of those bigger than life games the Nittany Lions get to play. Add in the fact that it’s going to over 70 degrees Saturday in Lincoln and this will be a better atmosphere than all but a few bowl games.
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It’s just nine games into Bill O’Brien’s tenure and just nine games into the severe NCAA sanctions, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that Penn State football will not become irrelevant over the next four years.
First of all, as has been noted numerous times already, many thought this team would disintegrate this season. Of course, that hasn’t happened at all.
Secondly, many thought that even if the team would be decent this year, the real effects of the sanctions would happen in the next couple of years.
I’m not so sure.
As was noted by several writers last week, Purdue, Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Indiana and Northwestern are all still going to be in the Big 10. Those are all schools that Penn State should be competitive with – even under the worst circumstances.
Other than Ohio State, none of the other five schools are tearing it up this year either.
As far as scholarship numbers go, yes, not having a full complement is not a good thing. But let’s face it, this year’s team is playing with a number that’s not that far off from where they’ll be in the next couple of years.
In addition, recruits like Christian Hackenberg and Adam Breneman – to name the most high profile ones – are going to, not only make this team better but, attract more high profile recruits.
And, believe it or not, this year is almost over, which means the bowl ban is only for three more years. It may seem like a long time for fans and current players, but O’Brien will be recruiting players that can go to bowls.
Big games against the likes of Ohio State and Nebraska are reasons why players will still want to come to Penn State. So are the successful results against teams like Illinois, Northwestern, Iowa and Purdue this year.
Clearly, things aren’t as bleak as they were in July and August. Bill O’Brien and the players on this team have made sure of that.
Just as clearly, Penn State football will not be irrelevant in the next few years. Big wins this year have helped make sure of that.
A win in Lincoln Saturday would help even more.
Marty Valania covers football for nittanylionsden.com. Follow him @EastRecruiting on Twitter.