Typically, Penn State football celebrates its first win of the season in early September. 2020 is no typical year though. Today, the Nittany Lions got into the win column at long last, against a similarly disappointing Michigan squad.
Entering today’s game, the two teams were a combined 2-8. Michigan beat Minnesota to open the season and survived Rutgers in a wild triple overtime game. Penn State was winless, and has been about as hampered by opt-outs and injuries as any team this year.
James Franklin’s team pulled out the big 27-17 win this afternoon, avoiding what legitimately looked like a potential winless season. Led by Keyvone Lee, PSU ran for 254 yards and three touchdowns against Don Brown’s disappointing defense, while Michigan only managed 286 yards of offense.
This obviously doesn’t solve all of Franklin and Penn State’s problems. After the game, he gave a very honest takeaway from win No. 1 of the 2020 season.
How is James Franklin doing now? He won't say good. Stops himself: "I'm better," he says. "I'm better."
— Audrey Snyder (@audsnyder4) November 28, 2020
After the team’s loss to Maryland earlier this year, Franklin opened up about how hard the year has been on him. On top of the mounting losses, Franklin has been without his family, who are weathering the season in Florida, in order to protect Franklin’s daughter Addison, who has sickle cell disease.
“I’ll be honest with you, one of the things that I have not done a great job of handling, personally, that I have to be honest with myself, and honest with the team, and honest with you guys, is that I have not done a great job of managing my family being gone,” Franklin said at the time. “I have not. They’re my fuel. I go home, they’re able to pour into me, and I’ve not done a great job of that.”
One win, against another struggling power program, doesn’t change that fact. “Better” is definitely an improvement though.
Penn State closes out its season with a trip to Rutgers and home game against Michigan State over the next two weeks.