Inside Slant

The Sports Xchange

November 06, 2018 at 11:22 pm.

Nittany Lions try to shake off blowout loss

James Franklin was quick and to the point when asked Tuesday if Penn State has lived up to his own expectations this season.

“No,” Franklin said.

“Obviously our standards and our expectation is to win every game we play. We have not done that for a number of reasons. I mean, I think you can list them all out but at the end of the day, we have not played up to the standard that we have.”

Expectations for the No. 20 Nittany Lions (6-3, 3-3 Big Ten) were sky high heading into this season. After a pair of two-loss seasons that saw them finish just outside of the CFP Top 4, the Nittany Lions were looking to finally crack the College Football Playoff field after coming so close each of the last two years.

But two months of lackluster offense, streaky defensive play and sloppy special teams have led to a trio of losses and have dashed those hopes. Now, the Nittany Lions have to recalibrate their expectations.

They want to win out and can still chase a New Year’s bowl destination.

They’ll have to beat a foe that’s given them fits first, however, when Wisconsin visits Beaver Stadium for a noon kickoff on Saturday.

Each of the last three games between the two programs have been decided by a touchdown or less. Penn State battled back in their last meeting to hand the Badgers a 38-31 loss in the 2016 Big Ten championship game.

But Penn State is coming off a different type of loss, a blowout to No. 4 Michigan. The Nittany Lions haven’t been on the losing end of a lopsided score like Saturday’s 42-7 beatdown since the last time they played in Ann Arbor — early in 2016.

“Obviously, the losses hurt,” Franklin said. “There’s no doubt about it. But I also want to make sure that we’re doing a good job of managing those losses and how we approach them and how we talk about them and how we recover and move on to the next win — or the next game.”

That comes against the Badgers who still have a West Division crown in mind, though the Badgers trail Northwestern after losing to the Wildcats two weeks ago.

They’ll bring the nation’s leading rusher into Beaver Stadium where Jonathan Taylor will look to add to his 151 rushing yards per game average.

“They are a talented team up front and he’s a very talented back,” Penn State safety Garrett Taylor said.

“But you know, I’ve been saying for a long time, I think we’re really talented as a defense. I think it’s going to start up front and I think our guys are going to do a great job of giving Wisconsin hard looks and getting knocked back off the ball and I think we’re going to come out with the right intentions on defense.”