Penn State football chat, 8 p.m., Nov. 24

I certainly didn’t see that coming.

All factors pointed to Penn State dominating, or at least winning somehow, in Illinois this past weekend. Instead, it was like the Maryland and Michigan games were played all over again.

What happened to DaeSean Hamilton and Geno Lewis against the Illini?

What happened to DaeSean Hamilton and Geno Lewis against the Illini?

And the Nittany Lions found another way to lose a low-scoring, close decision late.

Let’s chat about everything that went wrong tonight at 8 … and, of course, maybe some things that went right, too.

Do the Lions stand any chance on Senior Day Saturday against Michigan State? Can they even go to another bowl but the Pinstripe in New York City?

We’ll talk about all of that, including recruiting, the Big Ten and more.

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How to keep the good times rolling in Illinois …

The Nittany Lions are feeling better about themselves now then they have in quite a while.

And who can blame them?

All of their fast, talented defenders are getting comfortable and confident in their first-time roles, and are producing. The running game is showing signs of life. Guys are getting healthy.

Getting Jesse James and the other tight ends the ball on frequent, shorter routes could help re-energize the passing game.

Getting Jesse James and the other tight ends the ball on frequent, shorter routes could help re-energize the passing game.

The Lions look like they’ve found their second wind as they face yet another rudderless Illinois outfit that doesn’t look even interested in playing defense for long stretches.

The Illini would be desperate for a fifth victory and an outside shot at a bowl game, but we’re not sure what really is left in them, at this point.

More importantly, Penn State looks like it means business this weekend — at least in everything but its struggling, somewhat mystifying passing game.

But a victory is a victory, especially this time of year. Who cares that a three-game winning streak would be against a most unimposing lot — Indiana, Temple and Illinois?

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Podcast: Bowl predictions for PSU

Frank Bodani and Jim Seip recap the Temple win, which pushed Penn State into bowl eligibility. They preview the Penn State matchup with Illinois. But most importantly, Bodani breaks down the scenarios that would have to take place to send Penn State to certain bowl games.

Posted in Akeel Lynch, Beaver Stadium, Big Ten, Bill O'Brien, Christian Hackenberg, James Franklin, Jim Seip, Mike Mauti, Penn State, Podcast | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Penn State football chat, 8 p.m., Nov. 17

The Nittany Lions have back-to-back wins for the first time since September.

Is Illinois the place where Christian Hackenberg finally gets back on track?

Is Illinois the place where Christian Hackenberg finally gets back on track?

Are they truly recovering and on a roll now?

Let’s chat about Penn State tonight at 8 as it prepares for a crucial road game against a not-so-good Illinois team. We also will look back over the resounding victory against a not-so-good Temple team.

There was the continued struggles of Christian Hackenberg and the return of key offensive linemen Donovan Smith and Miles Dieffenbach.

There now will be a bowl game, of some sort, too.

And I will be glad to talk about what that all means.

For starters, get warmed up on this: Becoming bowl eligible is the perfect time to reflect on how far these Nittany Lions have come in the past three years. Here’s my column.

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PSU podcast: A win against Temple will send Lions bowling

In 2012 it would have seemed inconceivable, but if Penn State can somehow string together two more wins this season it will record its third straight winning season, successfully navigating the first three seasons since NCAA sanctions were levied. But first things first, Frank Bodani and Jim Seip discuss why a win and bowl eligibility against Temple is a good possibility. Hint: A lot of it has to do with Penn State’s defense.

Posted in Akeel Lynch, Football, Frank Bodani, James Franklin, Jim Seip, Mike Hull, Ohio State, Podcast | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Quarterback comes to the Penn State recruiting rescue

James Franklin needed a quarterback.

He really needed a certain kind of quarterback at Penn State.

He needed a quarterback with a strong enough arm but who could also make plays with his feet.

He needed a quarterback who could do all of that, plus had a big enough frame to put on the kind of weight to absorb a pounding in the Big Ten.

James Franklin got his new quarterback after a recruiting visit for the Ohio State game.

James Franklin got his new quarterback after a recruiting visit for the Ohio State game.

He needed a quarterback now, not next year.

And Franklin did about as well as possible this late in the 2015 recruiting cycle when he received a verbal commitment from Indiana’s Tommy Stevens this week. He had scholarship offers from the likes of Nebraska, Michigan State and N.C. State but had been committed to the Indiana Hoosiers.

He ultimately fills the hole in the class left by premium prospect Brandon Wimbush, who left to join Notre Dame’s class.

Stevens is still highly-regarded but doesn’t come with the same level of recruiting hype.

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Penn State football chat, 8 p.m., Nov. 10

The Nittany Lions’ losing streak is history.

Has Bill Belton begun a late-season resurgence for an offense in desperate need?

Has Bill Belton begun a late-season resurgence for an offense in desperate need?

Of course, it took a record-breaking run and more top-shelf defense to even make that happen, barely, against the struggling Indiana Hoosiers.

What did you take away most from Penn State’s first victory since September? Let’s chat about it all tonight from 8 to 9.

We’ll discuss the continued struggles on offense … as well as how good this defense may possibly become. We’ll provide some insight on the Lions’ chances the next two weeks against Temple and Illinois.

Plus, we’re always up for some recruiting talk and a roundup of the Big Ten.

Meanwhile, check out my column today on why this Penn State defense is still underrated and why it will be even better next season.

Posted in Big Ten, Bill Belton, Chat, Fans, Football, Frank Bodani, Penn State, Recruiting | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Penn State Life on the Road: Taking it to the streets

My first meal on my first football trip to Indiana may have been the most underwhelming possible.

This was 1994, and because of travel snafus, I didn’t arrive at my Bloomington hotel until nearly midnight — a worn resort hotel surrounded by woods and farmland that felt a bit abandoned.

I think the cooks had long since left for the night, if not for the season. And so dinner was a pack of nuts from a vending machine.

This is why I vow never to nibble like that again on the road when covering Penn State football. Rather, I go with this motto: If you’ve got to eat, you might as well try to make it interesting.

So this weekend in Indianapolis and Bloomington was dedicated to food from the streets. That meant searching out food trucks for lunch and trying out a restaurant that specializes in “Asian street food.”

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The Penn State path to ending a losing streak … Hoosier-style

A somewhat desperate Penn State team finds itself at a football crossroads at their Big Ten oasis.

For years, it seemed that you went to Bloomington, Indiana only to rejuvenate and feel good about yourself for the road ahead.

Break the losing streak? Use your talented tight ends more, like 6-foot-7 Jesse James.

Break the losing streak? Use your talented tight ends more, like 6-foot-7 Jesse James.

At least that’s the way it used to be for the Nittany Lions, who could always bank on coming here and finding a victory. They came packaged as comebacks, blowouts or even nail-biting survivals. They were always were there.

However, everything changed last year with Bill O’Brien’s team. We figured they were set on running the Hoosiers out of Memorial Stadium, just that it never worked out that way. Indiana met every strike with a forceful counter-attack and sprinted away with things in the end for its first victory ever over the Lions.

It’s a bit of a different scenario this weekend: For one of the few times in this series, doubt swirls around most every facet of the day. The Lions haven’t left the field victorious in six weeks, so even the wounded Hoosiers cannot necessarily be counted on to comply.

That’s why Penn State fans may need to see this: The five keys to victory in Bloomington:

Continue reading “The Penn State path to ending a losing streak … Hoosier-style” »

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PSU struggles could end against Indiana

Frank Bodani and Jim Seip discuss the possibility Penn State could finally end its four-game losing streak against Indiana in Bloomington Saturday.

Posted in Akeel Lynch, Allen Robinson, Big Ten, Bill O'Brien, Christian Hackenberg, coaching staff, Fans, Football, Frank Bodani, James Franklin, Jesse James, Jim Seip, NCAA, Penn State, Podcast, Recruiting | Leave a comment